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.
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 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
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.
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