Cockermouth - the Lake District.
Welcome to the EDGE Guide to Cockermouth. Cockermouth, northern gateway to the lakes, is perhaps best known as the birthplace of William Wordsworth, one of the most famous poets England has produced. However, there is considerably more than that to this wonderful town.
Cockermouth has something of a reputation for good shopping and has a great many amenities and activities of a high standard, these include: Wordsworth's house (open to the public)- four museums - a sports centre with an excellent swimming pool - golf - fishing on the Derwent and Cocker rivers - horse and pony riding - walking - Lakeland Sheep & Wool Centre - climbing - sailing - tennis - squash - sheep dog trials - cycling - football - cricket - fell racing - Cumberland Wrestling - Gurning.
Gurning is a Cumbrian speciality: the contestant pulls a series of ridiculous facial expressions while wearing a horsecollar round their neck: highly entertaining and usually performed in pubs.
Cockermouth has it's own brewery- Jennings which makes excellent real ales, and supplies many of the pubs in and around the town as well as across Cumbria and beyond. You can go on a guided tour through the brewery and sample its produce.
Cockermouth is a handsome town with a long and wide street, Main Street, where you will find many shops and amenities. Leading off Main Street on the south side are more picturesque streets and squares offering more interest to the shopper.
This is the bustling centre of Cockermouth on Monday, market day. Cockermouth was granted a market charter in 1221.
The majority of the town is to the south of Main Street, to the north is the River Derwent overlooked by Cockermouth Castle.
Exploration of Cockermouth is rewarded by the discovery of fine old buildings, alleyways and streets. If you walk up to the Church Rooms past All Saints Church and the Town Hall you will come to a plaque on the wall that refers to the old Grammar School that stood here and where Fletcher Christian, who led the Mutiny on the Bounty, was educated.
Cockermouth: a short history: top
Stone Age man (around 10,000 years ago) left traces in the Cockermouth area. There is a later earthwork above the town called Tute Hill, of which little is known. Four miles or so to the east is Elva Plain Stone Circle (3,000 to 2,500 BC).
The area has always been fertile farming land, and the two rivers that meet here would provide early settlers with fresh water and fish.
The Romans built their fort Derventio at nearby Papcastle across the River Derwent. It was one of the larger forts in northern England, though like many others it was robbed of stone after the Romans had left, (some was used in the walls of Cockermouth Castle) and not much survives.
Cockermouth doesn't feature in the Domesday Book of 1086, being under the control of the Scots at the time. Soon after it was taken by the English and the castle was founded shortly after, around 1106.
The castle was built in a good defensive position overlooking the town and later was able to fend off a superior Scots force who invaded in 1387. The castle again saw action during the War of the Roses and the English Civil War.
Mary Queen of Scots stayed a short while in the town before going to Carlisle, staying at Cockermouth Hall.
As already mentioned Fletcher Christian and William Wordsworth were of this Parish, so also was the noted scientist John Dalton (1766-1844), Fearon Fallows - astronomer and John Peel the huntsman made famous in song by John Woodcock Graves who also lived here.
Nearby Crummock Water.
In 1965 51 towns throughout the UK were designated 'gem towns' by the Council for British Archaeology, and considered to be of such importance to the national heritage that their preservation was recommended. Cockermouth was one of them, deservedly so.
Cockermouth: OS ref NY 125305 Sheet 89. Get the map.