Greenside Mining Company
The Greenside Mining Company owned the lead mine in Glenridding from the 1820s until it went into liquidation in 1920. It was a very significant presence in the valley and the biggest employer. [The mine continued in operation, only closing in the 1950s after a serious accident in 1952 killed four men]
According to a local amateur historian Warren Allison, the Greenside Mining Company bought Place Fell House and the surrounding estate in 1890. The property consisted of a nine-bedroomed mansion (Place Fell House), a four-bedroomed cottage (then called Broad How, now known as Wordsworth Cottage), a barn (now converted into a house), some stables and over 18 acres of land. A Captain Borlase stayed at Place Fell House until the middle of 1891, then moved to the cottage. After that Place Fell House was rented to William Sewell, another Greenside employee.
The 1891 census shows the following occupants of Place Fell House:
At some point (we think possibly the 1970s) a woman came to the door and said that she had lived in the house as a child. Her name was Barbara Sewell and she was born in the house in 1894. She also mentioned that her mother’s maiden name was Kilner, and that her parents had moved to Lancaster in the early 1900s. This was interesting because up until quite recently one of the panes of glass in the window of the main bathroom had the name W. Kilner scratched on it.
Barbara Sewell also said that she understood that Place Fell House was originally the dower house for Patterdale Hall (a dower house is a house set aside for a widow, usually on her late husband’s estate). However we have not found any evidence to connect the original owners, Elizabeth and William Wilson, with Patterdale Hall so this is unlikely to be accurate. The only connection we have established between Place Fell House and the Marshall family who owned Patterdale Hall is that we know that Frank Marshall at least stayed at, and possibly lived in, the house in 1888. This may have been where the dower house theory came from.
The Greenside Mining Company owned the estate until 1920, and Place Fell House was run as a lodging house during this period. The 1901 census shows John Blaylock from Kirkandrews as the head of household.
John Blaylock was still running Place Fell House as a lodging house in 1911 at the time of the next census:
The Greenside Mining Company put the entire Place Fell House estate up for auction on Tuesday 21st August 1920. At that time Place Fell House was still let to John Blaylock, but he had ‘given notice of his intention to leave’ on 11th November 1920.
The auction papers describe the estate as ‘a medium sized Residence, with Cottage, Garage and other buildings’.
The Particulars of the sale describe Lot 1 (coloured blue on the plan below):
‘A CHARMING FREEHOLD RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY known as PLACE FELL HOUSE, Situate at the foot of Place Fell, 5 minutes’ walk from Patterdale, with Church, Post and Telegraph Offices; and 5 minutes’ walk from Lake Ullswater, connected to Penrith (distant 15 miles) by Coach and Steamer Services, together with
TWO CLOSES of ARABLE LAND adjoining, and extending to the Goldrill Beck, the whole containing 3 Acres, 2 Roods and 35 Perches
PLACE FELL HOUSE, which is approached by a good Road, is charmingly situated, and commands a fine view of the surrounding Country. It is substantially built and in excellent repair, and contains Three Reception Rooms, Large Kitchen, Pantry, Scullery, and Lumber Room on the Ground Floor; Four Principal and Five Secondary Bedrooms, Bathroom (h. & c.) and separate W.C. on the First Floor.
There are good Storage and Wine Cellars in the Basement; also good Kitchen and Flower Gardens.
This is one of the most Desirable Small Properties in the Lake District. It is worthy of mention that the Estate for some years belonged to WILLIAM WORDSWORTH, and one of the Title Deeds bears the Poet’s Autograph.’
The map also shows:
Lot 2 (coloured green on plan), described as ‘A freehold cottage with a Piece of Ground adjoining, formerly known as Broad How, but now called ‘Wordsworth Cottage’ - 3 roods and 36 perches.’
Lot 3 (coloured yellow) ‘two closes of well watered pasture land’ – 4 acres 1 rood and 6 perches.
Lot 4 (coloured red) ‘Two freehold meadow and pasture fields.’ – 9 acres.
There is no record of how much the estate was sold for, but it seems likely that it was bought by Sam Hinchcliffe, a solicitor living at Ghyll Foot, who then sold off the different parts of it. Later in 1920 he advertised Place Fell House in The Times. We do not know how much he paid for the estate at auction, but we have always understood that the advertised price for Place Fell House in The Times was £1,200.