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Visit-Whitehaven 2013-2019 part of Cumbria Media. (C) All rights reserved. Permission must be obtained to reuse published materials.

Architecture

In Whitehaven there are over 250 listed buildings, many of which tell a story of Whitehaven's past.

Because of these listed buildings, Whitehaven was recently declared as a 'gem town' by, The

Council for British Archaeology. This is an award given to only 51 towns in Britain.

 

19-20 Irish Street

This building is considered to be of national importance. It is a rare example of early 19th century

architecture. The building, like many in Whitehaven, is Italian in style. It was designed by Sidney

Smirke, the brother of Sir Robert Smirke. Sidney was also responsible for the design of the surface

buildings at Wellington Pit, the Candlestick Chimney and the reading room in the British museum.

 

St. Nicholas Church

St. Nicholas Church was consecrated in 1883, having replaced an earlier chapel on the same site.

Following a fire in August 1971, all that remains of this church is its magnificent tower. The gardens

of the church were once covered in headstones, until the creation of a graveyard on Low Road, in

1855. Mildred Gale, the grandmother of George Washington, the first President of the United States

of America, was buried here, along with her baby daughter and a Negro servant. The exact location

of the grave is unfortunately unknown. In the gardens of St. Nicholas Church are memorials to the

miners who lost their lives down the Whitehaven mines. The four entrances to the gardens are

adorned with fine wrought iron gates which were taken from the tomb of Sir James Lowther following

the demolition of Holy Trinity Church.

 

St. James Church

This church is said to have the finest Georgian interior in the county. The building was constructed in

1752 and consecrated by the Bishop of Carlisle in July 1753. The church was designed by

Whitehaven's most famous engineer, Carlisle Spedding. The clock was the work of a local

blacksmith. The fine plasterwork on the ceiling is the work of two Italians, Arture and Baggiotti. The

Altar piece is "The Transfiguration of Christ" by Guillio Cesare Procaccini (1548-1626), it was formerly

housed in the Escurial, Madrid. It found its way to France, then, after the revolution it was brought to

England. It was presented to the church by William, third Earl of Lonsdale. In 1909 the organ was

added to the church. St. James became the parish church for Whitehaven in 1977 following the fire

at St. Nicholas Church.

 

Whitehaven Castle

The castle in Whitehaven is built on the site of an earlier mansion which was known as the Flatt. Sir

John Lowther bought the Flatt on October 1st 1675. In 1769, following a fire, Sir James Lowther had

the Flatt rebuilt in its present form and changed its designation to Whitehaven Castle. The castle

remained in the hands of the Lowther family until 1920, when following an auction, it passed into the

hands of the local health service. In 1926 the castle became the Whitehaven and West Cumberland

Infirmary which continued to operate until 1964 when a new hospital was built at Hensingham. The

castle remained in use as a geriatric unit, until closure in the mid 1980's. The castle is now currently

under private ownership.

 

The Market Place

The right to hold a market in Whitehaven was granted in 1654 and confirmed in 1660. The majority

of the buildings in the market place have been there since the mid 17th century. Situated in the

market place is the market hall. The present building is on the site of an earlier hall which had been

designed by Sir Robert Smirke (Sir Robert Smirke is perhaps best known as the architect of the

British Museum in London). When the hall opened in 1819 it was known as the Butter Market, here

dairy produce and poultry was brought to be sold. The present building in the market place was

designed by T. Linneas Banks and was opened in June, 1881. The ground floor was used as a

market, while the upper floors have been used for a variety of purposes including a dance hall,

cinema and museum. The market hall is now home to Whitehaven's tourist information centre.

 

Moresby Hall

Moresby Hall is the oldest residence in West Cumbria. It is a Grade I listed building due to its

historical and architectural importance. The building retains many of its original features. The oldest

part of the house has an original Pele tower. This once had unrestricted views of the coast, allowing

protection from invaders using the shore. During the 18th century the Hall fell into disrepair, it was

used as a farmhouse for some time, then in 1910 it was restored and re-emerged as a small manor

house in 1955.

 

The Theatre Royal

The Theatre Royal dates back to 1769. Originally the building was known as Roper Street Theatre.

The theatre was modelled upon the theatre in Bath. It became known as the Theatre Royal in 1778.

The theatre closed for refurbishment, and was reopened in February 1869. The building was again

remodelled in 1909, then in the 1930's it closed. In 1960 the building was demolished to allow an

extension to be built to the adjacent printing works. Following alterations in 1978, this building

became Michael Moons antiquarian bookshop. Mr Moon has now moved to new premises on Lowther

Street.

 

25 Roper Street

This house was home to Daniel Brocklebank, a famous shipbuilder during the 18th century. The

famous shipping line T. and J. Brocklebank, which Daniel's sons owned, evolved into Cunard, and as

such, is the oldest shipping company in the country.

 

30 Roper Street

This building was constructed in 1743 by James Spedding, the son of Whitehaven's famous mining

engineer Carlisle Spedding. The building was intended to be used as both a dwelling and offices. The

entrance on Roper Street has a doorway which is decorated by an acorn finial, this is a reference to

the Spedding coat of arms.

 

5 Cross Street

This house on Cross Street was built in 1701, it was home to the famous artist Mathias Read who

lived in Whitehaven until his death in 1747. Mathias came to the town as a young artist. He painted

several pieces and his work was in considerable demand. He did altar pieces for St. Nicholas Church

and Holy Trinity Church, he painted several views of Whitehaven, the most famous of his works, 'A

birds eye view of Whitehaven', was painted in 1738.

 

151 Queen Street

This house, built in 1733, was the home to the merchant William Gale. William was the younger

brother of George Gale whose first wife, Mildred, was the grandmother of George Washington - the

first president of the United States of America. this house is one of the earliest of Whitehaven's large

houses to have survived to present day.

 

NOTE

Georgian architecture was developed in England out of the Classical Revival which dominated Europe

during the Renaissance and Enlightenment.

The Georgian style name comes from the kings of Great Britain who ruled England while Georgian

architecture was popular. From 1714 until 1820 England was ruled by George I, George II and George

III.