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Cockermouth

Cockermouth
Cockermouth
Tim Herrick

Cockermouth stands at the meeting place of the River Derwent and the River Cocker. This interesting market town is a great centre from which to explore the Lake District. William Wordsworth was born here in 1770, the son of a local attorney. The family house (Worsworth house) is now a National Trust property, open to visitors. Several other famous people originated from Cockermouth and the area around the town. Fletcher Christian, who led the mutiny on the Bounty, was born here as was the physicist James Dalton. Strangely, these three very different sons of Cockermouth were born within six years of one another into a small community.

A castle stands at the entrance to the town when approached from the direction of Keswick. The building has a terraced walk with wonderful views of the surrounding countryside. There are also interesting dungeons. The castle is a 12th Century Norman construction but many of the stones, with which it was built, came from an earlier Roman building in the area. There were later additions to the castle, but most of it is now in ruins. It is not normally open to the public apart from during the annual Cockermouth Festival each July.

There are many attractive buildings in the town, most dating from the Georgian period but some much earlier. The original church was All Saints on Kirkgate, originally endowed by Henry Percy in 1395, and described as “the most ancient and beautiful specimen of gothic architecture in the North of England”. Unfortunately, this did not survive and was replaced by an 18th Century building which burned down to be replaced in turn by the present church in 1854. The church is worth visiting as it has some fine stained glass windows and interesting carving on the pillars.
Another establishment, Christ Church, was constructed on South Street in 1865 and was considered reactionary at the time. It contains galleries on iron columns.

Cockermouth is an attractive town with much to offer the visitor. It has a wide range of restaurants and cafés, including a recommended vegetarian eating place. There are plenty of small shops and various entertainment venues. These include the Kirkgate Arts Centre. In addition to Worsworth house, other attractions are Jennings Brewery, Cumbria’s only independent brewery, and the 16th Century Printing Museum.

© 2018 Lake District Guide