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Henry Irwin Jenkinson 1838-1891

Updated: May 22, 2022



Champion of the Keswick Trespasses

This blog aims to shine a light on the life and work of Henry Irwin Jenkinson, most probably best known as a writer of guide books. An advocate of the joys of fell walking Henry dedicated much of his time to ensuring that the generality could have free access to open spaces.

Henry fell in love with the Lake District when he moved to Keswick in his early twenties and so made the town his home for the rest of his life. He referred to himself as “A mountaineer, tourist and writer of guide books”. I would add that he was also the driving force behind the creation of a public park for Keswick and champion of the public's right of access to the summit of Latrigg Fell, the outcome of which had far reaching implications. Here's his story.


Henry was born on the 22 December 1838 to Robert and Mary (nee Shillito) Jenkinson in Brotherton West Yorkshire. Both parents were from local families and they remained in Yorkshire all their lives. They had seven children, five of whom moved away to set up home in different parts of the world:

-Robert Ebeneezer 1828-1884: Bachelor, remained in Yorkshire all his life, buried in York.

-Mary Jane 1830-1896: when thirty-one emigrated to New Zealand with her husband James Speight one of the founders of Speights Beer Co. still in existence.

-Benjamin Shillito 1832-1896: moved to Stratford, East London in his thirties with a young family where he lived for the rest of his life.

-Elizabeth 1834-1908: when forty-five (1879) emigrated to New Zealand with her husband Rev. Thomas Tonkinson and five children aged between 1 & 11 years old.

-James Jackson 1836-1900: in his early twenties emigrated to Canada then moved to the States where he settled.

-Henry Irwin 1838-1891: in his late twenties moved to Keswick in the Lake District. Author of walking guides and champion of the rights of access the fells. Bachelor.

-Frederick Herbert 1841-1853 died aged eleven years old.

Henry's father had died when he was nine years old and his younger brother Frederick when he was fourteen. Three of his siblings emigrated and his mother passed away in 1866 leaving two older brothers by the time he was in his early thirties.

This photo was taken c1875 in central London.

Standing on the left is Henry's brother-in-law Rev Thomas Tonkinson, on the right Henry and seated his brother Benjamin.


Henry studied mechanics at the York Institute of Popular Science and Literature graduating in 1858. At the Yorkshire's Union of Mechanics Institutes in the summer of 1857 he was awarded a certificate in algebra, geometry, mensuration and trigonometry in the Society of Arts Examinations. On graduating, at the awards ceremony October 1858 he was handed a first class certificate for arithmetic, second geometry and third for trigonometry.

Presumably Henry worked in this industry until in 1865 when he moved to Keswick, where he took up the position of station master at the recently opened railway station, (the station was opened to passenger traffic on 2 January 1865) A position he held until 1869.

In 1873 the post office directory of Cumberland and Westmorland has him listed as a commission agent based on the High Street, an occupation that he maintained all his life.


Henry was a keen fell walker and took an interest in the geology and topography of the Lake District. So much so that when Flintoft's famous model of the Lake District was exhibited at the town hall Keswick in 1871 he took on the role of curator. It was at this exhibition that he met Edward Stanford the publisher of maps and guide books (a business that is still going today). Henry put forward his idea for a guide book to the Lakeland Fells and so began his literary career.

There is an account of this meeting plus a description of Henry in The Graphic 31st August 1872, written by “An Old Man” who was in fact William White, principle doorman at the House of Commons. Here's a snippet:

I was rather surprised when I saw Mr. Jenkinson. I had fancied that I should see a tall, sandy, Cumberland man; but Mr. Jenkinson is not that, not a Cumberland man at all, I learned, but a Yorkshire man. Nor is he so tall as most of the men are here. He is of the middle height, has no surplus flesh to carry, is well and compactly built, and, as one could soon see, very lithesome and active. Then there is nothing in his outward appearance to incline you to think that he could perform such all but super human feats as that which I have described. He received me frankly, and at this and other interviews I learned the story of his book. He had long been inspired with a desire to write a guide-book of this district. When in the summer of last year Sir. Edward Stanford, the eminent publisher of maps and books at Charing Cross, called to see the (Flintoft's) model, he expressed this desire to the publisher. Mr. Stanford encouraged him. Whereupon, as soon as the season was well over, Mr. Jenkinson set about preparing for his work.”

In 1872 Henry's first book “Jenkinson's Practical Guide to the English Lakes with maps' was published by Stanford. Henry was 33 years old at the time. He personally did all the walks and collated all the information in this comprehensive volume.

The success of this book encouraged him to write six other guide books, all using the same methodology and published by Stanford's;

-1872 Practical Guide to the English Lake District plus Windermere section and Keswick section. The English Lake District guide had nine subsequent editions and was last printed 1893 with a foreword by HD Rawnsley.

-1873 Eighteen penny guide to the English Lake District. 5 subsequent editions.

-1874 Isle of Man. 3 editions plus Smaller Guide to the Isle of Man. 3 editions.

-1875 Carlisle, Gilsland, Roman Wall and Neighbourhood, 2 editions plus Smaller guide, 2 editions.

-1876 Isle of Wight, 3 editions plus Smaller Guide to Isle of White, 5 editions.

-1878 North Wales, 4 editions plus Smaller Guide to North Wales, 3 editions.

-1879 Tourist guide to English Lake District, 7 editions last printed 1892

Also with other publishers:

-1873 Epitome of Lockhart's Life of Scott published by Adam & Charles Black Edinburgh

-1879 European Politics-a series of letters published Keswick

So for Henry the 1870's was spent touring, walking and writing. The following decade his focus shifted as he took up causes that would vastly improve the lives of the people of Keswick and beyond.


On the 10 April 1880 the Keswick Guardian published a letter by Henry expressing his concern that the land known as 'Fitz Park' was going to be used for building plots and called for action to be taken before it was too late. The land was predominately owned by Mr S H Le Fleming of Rydal Hall and at that time could be hired for grazing and public events.

A Mr Thomas Hewetson (who was to become the main benefactor) saw this letter and raised the matter of a need for a recreation ground in Keswick with his good friend Mr John Fisher Crosthwaite the local bank manager. This led to a meeting being called later that same month to discuss the local authority purchasing the ground and turning it into a public park. A committee was established as follows: Chairman: Mr J Fisher Crosthwaite of the Cumberland Union Bank, Secretary: HI Jenkinson, and Treasurer: Mr P Thompson.

The entire area of the Recreation Ground comprised of 'Low Fitz'' belonging to Mr le Fleming of Rydal Hall, and a small parcel of land 'High Fitz' owned by the Keswick Hotel Company. On the 20th April the committee met with Mr le Fleming's agent to discuss the purchase of the land. Throughout the summer negotiations took place through Henry between the land owner and the Hewetson's and by November the committee was ready to call a public meeting to discuss the 'Proposed purchase of a recreation ground for Keswick'.

So it was on a Tuesday evening in mid November that a large number of people gathered at the court buildings in Keswick to discuss the scheme. From reading the transcript the main feeling was that the local people did not want the land built on. Mr Fisher Crosthwaite stating that their rights had been so encroached up that;

“In Keswick they had not a scrap left (of public land). They were literally without any recreation land whatsoever, except for which they paid or where they were found to be trespassers”.

The motion was put forward and unsurprisingly passed almost unanimously (only 6 against) to pursue the project. The committee was confirmed plus about 80 members who would go ahead and start the fund raising in earnest. The estimated cost of the project was £8000: £7500 for the 28 acres of land £500 for works.

Over the following 18 months letters written, fêtes organised and money collected. Henry as secretary had his work cut out, corresponding regularly with the Hewetsons. The local people organised a bazaar to be held over four days in August 1881 which raised a whopping £880.

Thomas Hewetson who had encouraged this scheme from the outset, had since relocated to Tunbridge Wells however he still maintained an interest in his home town. Along with his brother Henry they became the main benefactors, donating £4100 by 1882 which had increased to £5250 by 1887. There had been a suggestion by the people of Keswick to name the recreation ground 'Hewetson Park, but the brothers would have none of it.

By February 1882 the purchase of the land for the park was nearing completion and a public meeting was called by the Park Committee at which an announcement was made by the chair Canon Battersby to a packed room. They were just £200 shy of the full amount required and a proposal was made to sell the Towns Field currently belonging to the local Council and seldom used in order to make up the funds. The motion passed unanimously to much applause. As with any public scheme there were opponents and detractors, but they were few and far between as the majority of the population of Keswick were behind the project.

By end of April 1882 the purchase was complete. Two years on from the original meeting. Quite an achievement! Plans were drawn up for the lay out, put out to tender and works commenced in earnest in 1883. The grounds were laid out in a very ornamental style following the designs by Mr Fletcher a landscape gardener from London, and spaces apportioned for games. The trustees reserved the right to close 'Low Fitz' for nine days of the year for shows and games. By the following year the recreation ground was in full use, with a bowling green and cricket pitch.

It was necessary to continue raising funds to cover the costs of ongoing work. However by March 1887 a small debt had accrued resulting in the trustees putting an appeal in The West Cumberland Times to try and clear the £600 debt owed by The Fitz Park Recreation Ground Fund in time for the Queen's golden jubilee celebrations to be held that summer.

So on the 25 June 1887 Keswick celebrated the Jubilee with a huge parade starting from the town centre to Fitz Park where a gala was held. (Henry was also secretary of the Jubilee Committee). A podium was set up in the park from which the local dignitaries and committee members addressed the crowd. Mr Crosthwaite, took to the stage and to huge applause and the astonishment of Henry,. announced that the park fund was free from debt. This had only just been achieved and Mr Crosthwaite choose the time when people were gathered in celebration to tell the crowds. After all the thank yous especially to the Hewetson brothers, Henry addressed the crowd to huge cheers. The total cost of the project had been £9746.

An article in the English Lakes Visitor later that year detailed a public meeting where a proposal was put forward that 'some form of appreciation to Mr Jenkinson needs to be arranged for all his efforts that enabled Fitz Recreation Ground to be created'. It is heartening to know how highly Henry was regarded for all the work he had put into this project. It wasn't until after his death that this recognition came to pass.

Out of interest, Hardwicke Drummond Rawnsley (1851-1920) one of the founders of the National Trust, was at the jubilee celebrations as he had supported the project and attended Fitz Park trustee meetings. He moved to the Lake District firstly to Wray Lake Windermere in 1878 and to Keswick in 1883.

1887 was a busy year for Henry and his associates......


In the century following the Enclosure Act of 1750 a large percentage of common land across the country shifted to private ownership which led to some long standing public rights of way becoming increasingly inaccessible. The industrial revolution together with the birth of the British tourism industry in the mid nineteenth century meant that access to green open spaces for pleasure took on a new importance.

As a means of challenging these closures the National Footpaths Preservation Society was created in 1884 and it wasn't long before local groups began to emerge. In the Lake District it was HD Rawnsley who in 1886 set up the Keswick and District Footpaths Preservation Society (KFPS) with Henry as secretary and treasurer, and two vice presidents; Rev William Colville and William Routh-Fitzpatrick. The society's slogan was 'arbitration, not war’ so with this in mind had invited local land owners on to the committee, all of whom declined.

As an aside, it is worth noting that also active at the time was the Lake District Defence Society (LDDS) formed in 1883 by HD Rawnsley that was particularly against the expansion of the railways and mining industry in the Lake District. Henry attended these meetings but was not on the committee.

The main purpose of the Keswick FPS was to oppose illegal closures of long established footpaths by landowners whilst recognising that when using these rights of way the public had a duty to respect the owners property. To this end the KFPS decided to focus on three disputes in particular; the ancient right of way through Fawe Park owned by Mrs Spencer Bell which connects public boat landings, the access to the top of Latrigg Fell the land owner being Miss Spedding and the Derwent water footpaths across Mr RD Marshall's Castlerigg estate.

Photo: Andrew Smith. Pastures, looking at Latrigg Fell, Keswick. CC BY-SA 2.0

The KFPS committee had hoped to come to amicable agreements with the landowners however negotiations with Mrs Bell and Miss Spedding were fruitless. The association realised that to settle these disputes legal action would be required and to this end in July 1887 a Footpath Guarantee Defence Fund was set up managed by Henry. As this was seen as a national issue articles and adverts appeared in publications across the country as well as locally requesting donations. The Duke of Westminster and the Bishop of London were among the subscribers.

At a meeting of the KFPS held on Monday 29th August 1887 the decision was made to trespass Fawe Park and Latrigg Fell on 30th August 1887. An account of the event was published in the Manchester Times Saturday 3rd September. It is worth noting that Mrs Spencer-Bell 's 22 year old son had drowned in a yachting accident on Derwent water September the previous year as reference is made to her conduct.....

"ASSERTION OF PUBLIC RIGHTS IN THE LAKE DISTRICT... the Keswick and District Footpaths Preservation Society.... at a meeting of the committee of the society on Monday evening a sub-committee was instructed to make arrangements for asserting the public rights to the paths in question in such a manner as the solicitors to the society should recommend, the society holding themselves responsible for the result. After this resolution had been come to, notice was given to Mr. Spedding and Mrs. Bell, through their solicitors, that the society would assert the public rights on the following day at ten o'clock in the morning in the case of Fawe Park, and at three o'clock in the afternoon in the case of Latrigg.

In accordance a number of members of the society, headed by Mr. Fitzpatrick -acting as president in the absence of the Rev. H. D. Rawnsley- and by Mr. H. I. Jenkinson, secretary of the association, proceeded to Fawe Park on Tuesday at 10 o'clock, and were loudly cheered by the inhabitants as they drove through the town. The first obstruction met with was a gate interlaced with thorns and barbed wire, and backed by a number of oak trees. Some of Mrs. Bell's servants were there, and announced that their mistress would meet the party in a few minutes. Shortly afterwards the lady arrived, and protested against trespassing upon her private property. She expressed regret that among the trespassers were many whom she had before thought were her friendly neighbours, but who were now taking part in the oppression of a widow by asserting an imaginary right which would not give a quarter of an hour's enjoyment to anybody, while it would destroy her happiness and cause her to give up her home. Such proceedings would cause not only her but the resident gentry to leave the neighbourhood, and when they were gone no visitors or tourists of any account would come to the place. This would ruin the railway and the hotel keepers, and Keswick would be left in poverty and desolation. She looked upon them as her enemies, and thought it was nothing less than robbery to take people's private property in this way. No people of any value to the district would come to live where there were such hungry sharks.

Mr. Fitzpatrick, on behalf of the association, said they had a painful duty to perform, but it should be done with as little annoyance to Mrs. Bell as possible. They were sorry to resort to this course, but had no alternative; and if they were wrong, Mrs. Bell would have her remedy in a court of law. Mr. FitzPatrick then gave orders for the barriers to be removed, which was quickly done by a blacksmith who had been taken for the purpose, and the way having been cleared a charabanc was driven through with about ten occupants, other members of the association following on foot. Several smaller obstructions were removed as the party proceeded, and after the asserters of the public right had reached the other side of the hill, where the public road from Newlands to Borrowdale is reached, they returned by the same way they came. By this time the barriers had been replaced, and they had to be cleared away again.

In the afternoon similar means were taken to assert the right of way to the top of Latrigg by way of Mr. Spedding's garden to what is known as the Terrace Walk."

The KFPS met again two weeks later and further trespasses were proposed and agreed upon unanimously. The following account of the trespasses was published in the West Cumberland Times 1st Oct 1887:

"THE DISPUTED KESWICK FOOTPATHS. DEMONSTRATION AT FAWE PARK. PULLING DOWN GATES, FENCES, AND BARRIERS. On Wednesday week at a largely attended meeting of the members of the Keswick and District Footpaths Preservation Association a resolution was carried unanimously that the sub-committee should be empowered to arrange as they might think best for the removal of the barriers which had again been placed on Latrigg and at Fawe Park.

It was agreed there would be a public demonstration for the removal of the Fawe Park barriers on Wednesday, September 28th, leaving the Keswick Market Place at 2.30pm and another to Latrigg on Saturday, October 1st, at the same hour.

Mr W. Routh Fitzpatrick, one of the vice-presidents (acting far the Rev H. D. Rawnsley, vicar of Crosthwaite, the president. who is away from home), the Rev A. R. Goddard and Mr Henry I. Jenkinson. the hon. secretary and treasurer directed the afternoon's operations. Charabancs and several private conveyances were driven to Fawe Park, while there were enthusiasts on horseback. A great many people rowed across the lake in boats, and a still greater number walked from Keswick and the surrounding villages... before three o'clock the conveyances reached Nichol Ending on the opposite side of the lake from Keswick. Here a large crowd had already congregated, and before the proceedings had been in progress ten minutes there must have been fully 500 people present. A pleasing feature, in this connection, was the large muster of ladies, who seemed to take quite as great an interest in the attack as did their more muscular relatives and friends.

It was previously known that Mrs Spencer-Bell, being away from home, would not meet the party. On the last occasion when Fawe Park was visited it will be remembered that Mrs Spencer-Bell made a series of speeches.... did more to increase the determination of the members of the Association and the towns people to assert their rights than all the efforts of the leaders of the movement could have accomplished in a very long time.

The party on coming to the obstruction, at Nichol Ending, observed that Mr Graham, solicitor. Carlisle, Mr Joseph Breatch, solicitor, Keswick, and a good many of Mrs Spencer-Bell's workmen and servants were congregated inside the gateway, and on the slopes of the surrounding wood. Mr Jenkinson and those accompanying him went to the barrier immediately they alighted from the vehicles. Mr Graham advanced to the blocked gate, and addressing Mr Jenkinson and those assembled round him said: On behalf of Mrs Bell I have to protest against you, or any of you removing this or any other fence on Fawe Park Estate, and give you warning that you, and each of you, will be held liable for any acts you may commit in removing these fences. (In answer to a question from Mr Jenkinson he added:) I am Mr Graham from Messrs Saul's Carlisle, Mrs Bell's solicitors. Mr Jenkinson replied: We are going to have the obstructions cleared away and the road opened. (loud cheering)

There being indications that further parleying might be anticipated unless some check was put on by those in authority, an appeal was made to Mr Fitzpatrick who was still on the 'Enterprise', for instructions. Mr Fitzpatrick; We are not going to have any speech-making today. Everything necessary was said when we were here last time The obstruction must be removed and the conveyance pass through. (Renewed cheers).

Mr Jenkinson; The gentleman represents Mrs Bell on this occasion, and you have heard what he has said to the sub-committee who came here. The committee think it is not necessary now that we should come here to talk. We think this is a public road; we are positive about it, and do you think it would be right of us to forego this public right because you come here objecting? You do not tell us why you object.

Mr Graham; I say it is a private road.

Mr Jenkinson: And we say it is not. Whatever you may say we are going to take these obstructions away and go over this road as a public right. I, as secretary of the Association take upon myself the responsibility that these men must at once remove the obstructions (Great cheering)

Four or five men carrying huge crowbars another whose implement was a pick-axe, and an experienced blacksmith, had been engaged by the Association in order to carry out the work which required to be done in a skillful and proper manner,. This was agreed upon that the Association could be satisfied as to there being no unnecessary damage done.

The gate had been secured by locks and bolts; barbed wire was stretched across from fence which borders the wood right down to the fence on the boat-landing side. Thorn branches and various other means of obstruction were woven into the gate and adjoining railings. The blacksmith quickly severed the wires, and removed the bolts, while it was only two or three minutes work getting the gate off its hinges. This accomplished the trunks of eight oak trees had to removed. The timber had been laid across the road behind the gate and as the hill rises immediately the gate is passed, the position is a somewhat awkward one. A few minutes longer sufficed to place these obstructions at the sides of the road.

Those who were not helping in the work with their hands cheered on those who were hauling the logs about or pulling down the gate. Others made merry at the pains and penalties which were promised on a board facing the gate, the wording being:- Notice.- Any persons found damaging gates fences, trees, shrubs, or taking away ferns, or otherwise trespassing upon this estate will be prosecuted.

Some doubt seemed to exist is the minds of one or two present as to whether the men were pulling down the proper fence and Mr Jenkinson said: We know exactly about all those things-these gateposts and everything. We have asked our solicitors about every point, and if you will trust us we shall do what is right. (Cheers.) Shortly before a clear passage had been made Mr Jenkinson said: You don't do a single thing to injure any part of Mrs Bell's property. (Hear Hear). We have workmen specially to do this work. I ask you, as I asked you on Latrigg, will you pledge yourselves that you will do no damage? Those who will pledge themselves hold up your hands. (Nearly every one present lilted their hands in response, and a hearty cheer followed.) Mr Jenkinson then asked that the "Enterprise" should be allowed to go first, after the guides, the other vehicles and the people following orderly after.

Whilst this was going on Mrs Bell's solicitor made note of the three main protagonists and despite there being a number of Mrs Bells servants and workers present no one attempted to stop the proceedings.

And so the charabanc and its entourage made its way through Fawe Park to to great cheers. There were many other obstructions placed along the road however with the 'crow bar brigade' close to hand these were all easily removed,. On reaching Grange Road end the group then retraced their steps and returned unhindered. When once again at Nicol Ending a final post and fence was removed in order to reopen a smaller public footpath. Several of those present walked along this path in order to reclaim it. Henry announced to loud cheers that a new sign would be erected declaring it to be a public footpath and the road a public right of way.

Before the crowd dispersed Henry thanked all those present for undertaking the trespass in a peaceful and orderly manner. He then went on to talk of the importance of joining the climb to the top of Latrigg Fell which was to take place the following Saturday fearing that if people neglected their duty that “you may possibly help to sacrifice the public right to go to every mountain top in Great Britain. There are thousands of people all over the British Isles helping you, who are expecting you to do your duty on that day

By now news had spread of the proposed mass trespass to the top of Latrigg Fell on the 1st Oct 1887, the matter having gained national interest. Samuel Plimsoll (former MP for Derby and 'The Sailor's Friend') had sent a telegram saying he would attend with two friends.

Here is a report of the event taken from the West Cumberland Times Wednesday 5th October 1887:


Nothing of the kind has ever been known in the Lake District before, and if there are parallel cases anywhere in Great Britain the officers of the Keswick Footpaths Preservation Association know not of them. Remarkable indeed were the scenes which were witnessed on Saturday at Greta Bank and on the slopes of Latrigg, and not the least feature worthy of note was the immense concourse of people who assembled to assert the public right of way to the summit of "Skiddaw's Cub." There were several attractions. The first was the splendid autumn day on which it would have been little less than a sin on the part of anyone to have remained indoors if they were free to take a walk in the open air.

Again it was known that Mr Samuel Plimsoll, who when member of Parliament for Derby earned a worthy and world-wide renown as the sailors' friend. The third reason why there was such a large gathering was the chance of "fun" in the removal of the barriers; while the last, and certainly not the least was the opportunity minded of a pleasant walk to the top of Latrigg by the now famous Terrace Walk and Calvert Road. The morning trains brought many people from western towns - Cockermouth, Workington, Aspatria, Maryport, and Whitehaven - to join the popular protest. At half past two there was a fine muster in the Keswick Market Place. Hundreds of persons had for nearly an hour previously been walking towards Greta Bank, and the conveyances which had been engaged by the association were followed by hundreds more.

The first of the charabanc was occupied by Mr Routh Fitzpatrick, one of the vice-presidents, Mr Henry Irwin Jenkinson (the hard working hon. secretary), the Rev A. R. Goddard, Dr Black, and other members of the committee, besides seven or eight newspaper representatives. The second char-a-bane comprised: the guides, a blacksmith and " the crow-bar brigade" This body, which was composed of a dozen stalwart young fellows in their working costume, attracted a great deal of attention. Each man had either a formidable crowbar, a pickaxe, a shovel, or some other implement which would be of service in the removal of any kind of obstruction from a tarred stone wall to the contents of a marine store such as was exhibited five weeks ago at the entrance to the Terrace Road. A hearty cheer was heard when the vehicles drove off, shortly before three o'clock, Several estimates were made during the afternoon of the numbers present. Nobody calculated on less than 2000 where another estimate was nearer 3,000; probably a figure somewhere between the two would be nearest the mark at the time Mr Plimsoll was speaking.

When a halt was made it was seen that Mr Joseph Broatch (Messrs Broatch and Gandy, Mr John James Spedding's solicitors) was waiting within the gate, and near to the silo were eight or nine of Mr Spedding's men servants. The gate was secured by a chain, and on the front of the gate was painted an indication that the rood was private. At the back? wall was the pile of timber, old iron, and heaps of rubbish which, when a few gallons of tar had been poured over it, served as a barricade on the occasion when the Association had paid a visit to the place. No attempt was made to defend the road by the men who were at the hall. The great crowd in the road was a very orderly one, and the work of Superintendent Taylor, Cockermouth, Inspector Richardson, Keswick, and the officers who were with them, was very light. A rousing cheer was given when the conveyances were bought to a stand. Hats were also waved and the cheers renewed when the officers rose to speak.

Mr Fitzpatrick said: Ladies and gentlemen, my duty is a very brief one, and I do not intend to inflict upon you a lengthy speech. I am today representing our president, the Rev H D Rawnsley,....but who, by absence is prevented from discharging his duty as leader of the association today. I need not tell you a twice-told tale. All you present know the history of the Latrigg dispute, and we are here today, as we were before, on the 30th August, to assert the public right of way by the Terrace Road and Calvert Road. (Hear, Hear) We have taken no steps without due deliberation and consideration, without obtaining evidence, and without submitting our case for counsel's opinion. We have also tried every way to bring about an amicable arrangement with Mr Spedding, without result. Are we to wait till it suits Mr Spedding's convenience to address legal proceedings, and is he in the meanwhile to be allowed to barricade a road which we must be forgiven for claiming as a public road till the matter be decided one way or another in a public court of law?

The society have decided that the barricades shall not be allowed to remain up, and it will be my duty, as soon as a few other gentlemen have addressed the meeting, to order them to be removed (Hear. Hear.) One thing let me beseech you, let none of us exhibit any personal feeling towards Mr Spedding of a hostile character. He very likely thinks he is in the right, and until the case is investigated in a court of law we cannot positively say that he is not. When you proceed up Latrigg, I request you will kindly follow the leaders of the society, keeping to the paths, and doing as little damage as possible. I also request that you will kindly not trample on the trees that have been spread on the path way.

The Rev. A R Goddard was then asked to speak. He said: …..I am very glad that so many of the ministry of the town of Keswick have stood side by side in this matter. I think, therefore, these two points are the only ones I have to make remarks upon. It is very unpleasant, and we would be glad to see Mr Spedding come and open his gates, and say, "Come in, friends; if you will respect my property I will respect your rights" but as he has not done so this was the only course that was left to us. (Applause).

Mr Jenkinson who was greeted with sustained. applause, was the next speaker. He said: "in the position of honorary secretary to the Footpath Association it is my duty to thank you for having come in such numbers to protest against the closing of these old public paths. (Hear hear) Mr Spedding and others have said you were not in earnest, but today you are showing to the world a spirit which will kindle such a fire as will light up all the British Isles. (Hear hear) Latrigg must be the watchword and the question of access to our mountain tops having been disputed we must not rest satisfied until the ancient rights have been conceded (applause) or the question is discussed and settled on the broadest principles (Hear Hear). If we have no right of access to the summit of Latrigg we have no right to ascend other similar mountains in Great Britain. Proud ought all to be that we have so advanced in education, in taste, and in patriotism, that the people can rise in such numbers to demand to be allowed to enjoy the natural beauties of this lovely district. We are not asking for money or for political power; but for a continuation of one of the simple rights of our forefathers to enjoy one of the natural rights of man, a communion occasionally in the midst of our toil with the spirit of nature and all that is great and beautiful. Who, possessed of these things by birth or accident can be so mean or selfish as to damp such noble aspirations. If such there be, they are unworthy of any high position amongst their fellow men. (Applause.) The day has come when birth and station, riches and power, have duties, and if they are possessed by those who are unworthy, and who misuse them, the people will demand that such persons be brought down to the post they are best able to fulfill. (Applause.) We are all fellow-travelers in the Journey of life, and is it right that one should misuse his high position and privileges to add to the misery instead of the happiness of the rest? I maintain that these miserable, selfish people, with dispositions naturally so perverse, should be looked upon as the pests of our race, (hear hear)—and some steps ought to be taken by law to prevent, or counteract, their evil tendencies. (Applause) How much better for themselves, how much better for everyone, if they would practice a little of the truest and highest selfishness, by adding to their own happiness, in adding to the happiness of their fellow men? (Applause.)

During the late Jubilee you had this spirit brought prominently forward in almost every town and village of Great Britain. Here, in Keswick, we had our Jubilee bonfires and the formal opening of the Fitz Park, and almost every one subscribing his mite towards the extinction of the Park debt. Why not, on so fitting an occasion, have helped to knit the people together, and gained their affection and esteem by settling this vexed question of access to Latrigg? No, this was too high an ideal for those who would have had to do the work. Rather, in a mean, selfish spirit would they alienate the whole town and country in the endeavour to satisfy their childish natures. (Hear, hear.) This being so, it is our duty to protest in an earnest, orderly spirit, before all England, that, come what may, we will not acknowledge defeat, or give up the contest, until success has crowned our efforts. (Applause.)

In this spirit I have guaranteed in the name of everyone of you, that we will walk to the top of Latrigg and back without doing any unnecessary damage and I must ask you all here to pledge your word, by holding up your hands, that you will support me in this endeavour, and show yourselves worthy of such confidence. (Applause.) I must ask you, and especially the children, not to touch even the black berries, or what are better know to most of you as brumlikites (Laughter and applause.) Those of you who will pledge yourselves hold up your hands. There was a hearty response, nearly every hand been lifted.

This was followed by " three cheers for Jenkinson " on the call of a person in the crowd. Mr Jenkinson then added: I believe you are all aware that a gentleman came from London the day before yesterday specially to assist us in gaining this path and other paths His name Samuel Plimsoll. (Great cheering.) I believe, although I do not see him, that I am justified in saying he will come forward and say a few words. (Applause.) Mr Plimsoll occupied a seat on the second charabanc, and on Mr Jenkinson's invitation he rose to speak. On being requested, he, although with some difficulty. got through the crush and was accommodated with a place on the first vehicle. Before he climbed up, however, he suggested, amid some laughter, to Mr Jenkinson, that "it would be well to pull the gate down now." The committee would not assent to such a course.

Mr Plimsoll was received with renewed cheering, then took his place on the charabanc, and spoke with much flourish and some length. In essence he reiterated the point that the right of access to Latrigg was not just a matter for the people of Keswick today but for the people of England to be able to access all mountain tops and to secure this for future generations.

He made fun of both the landowners in question to the joy of the crowd and vilified landowners. He talked of the legal aspects of the case and went onto say that what was needed so as to prevent a lot of expensive law suits popping up over the country was that a short Act needed to be passed in Parliament and a “commission formed to deal with the subject of closed footpaths on the application of three or more private people, and ADMINISTER SUMMARY JUSTICE upon those who attempt to close them. (Applause.)”

I advise this gentleman to take his defeat which he is going to receive this afternoon (laughter) here, and not venture to re-close that gate. I would recommend him not merely to remove all obstructions, but to cut down and remove all the trees he has planted to obstruct the view, and to put seats (Laughter, which was succeeded by applause) for the accommodation of the people who want to go and enjoy the landscape.”

He cited many of the aristocracy and big landowners who have set an example by allowing people onto their land for pleasure. Mr Spedding should follow the example of better men. He spoke of the 'insolence of wealth' that a small minority of landowners have in believing that the general public do not have the means to make a legal challenge and claim all or themselves. Mr Plimsoll finished by saying

Well I think I have said pretty well all I had to say, butt will say one last word to you. Some of the petty tyrants are not content with 97 per cent of everything that's going, but want to take the other 3 from the poor working people who produced them. (Great applause). I want to say to those, "Be wise in time, if you wont be guided by the easy snaffle of public opinion you shall be restrained and controlled with the bit and curb of Parliamentary restraint! (Loud and continued applause.)”

Once the speeches had concluded the order was given by Mr Fitzpatrick to remove the obstructions. Addressing Mr Broatch, he said: Will you kindly have these obstructions moved so as to prevent us having the necessity of removing them? Mr Broatch: There are no obstructions. Mr Fitzpatrick: The gate is fastened; it must be removed. Mr Broatch: I have a simple duty to perform. It is but one duty, and it is to protest on behalf of Miss Spedding against anyone coming over these roads because it is private property, and anybody who goes over will be liable for trespass. If any damage is done they will be held responsible. Mr Fitzpatrick: Force the gate.

The men were proceeding to carry out the order when Mr Jenkinson interposed and again appealed to them to respect the property, and to do no harm. The gate by this time had been opened by the blacksmith and the people streamed through. A procession was soon formed and the people went four or six abreast singing 'Rule Britannia'. Mr Jenkinson stopped the procession and asked that the singing should be stopped, so as to give no annoyance to Mr Spedding or his servants. It is a well-known fact that Keswickians will do almost anything for Mr Jenkinson, yet this was too much to ask and after being momentarily stopped the singing was commenced again, this time louder than ever.

As the glorious landscape came into view the spirits of "the attackers" rose higher, and more joyously they asserted that " Britons never shall be slaves." The gates on the road were hasped, and it was not till the junction with the Spooney Green Road that any real obstruction was met with. Two hurdles had been driven into the ground here. Some of the "crowbar brigade" had the hurdles propped against a neighbouring tree in a few seconds, and the people passed on. There could not have been fewer than 2,500 persons climbing to the top, and not a single disorderly one amongst them. It was evident that everyone enjoyed the walk, and scores who had never been on the Terrace Road before were loud in their praises of the fine landscape. At two other places on the route hurdles had been placed across the paths, but these were speedily removed, and the vast concourse of people pressed on to the summit.

On reaching the top of Latrigg, a halt was made; and on the call of Mr Jenkinson, three hearty cheers were given for Mr Plimsoll, and the members of the Press. Cheers were also given for Mr Jenkinson, who, in acknowledging the compliment, said the people of Keswick had again done their duty in upholding these ancient rights of way, and it now rested upon the people of England to support them in what had been done. He then announced that in the course of a few days the people of Keswick would have conceded to them by Mr Marshall several paths, including a grand walk through Great Wood and over Walla Crag. At this three rousing cheers were given for Mr Marshall.

A walk was then made to the north end of the summit and after three more cheers had been given for the sympathisers who had been unable to attend, the proceedings terminated.

The ascent of Latrigg by way of the Terrace Road was made by several parties on Sunday, the gates being unlocked. However, towards evening the gates were again closed, and remain so.

It is worth noting that following on from the above account is this report in the West Cumberland Times also on Wednesday 5th Oct 1887 stating that the obstructions on the disputed road at Fawe Park which had been removed the previous week by the KFPS trespass had been re-erected;

immediately after the supporters of the society had left the scene, re-erected and considerably strengthened. The action of Mrs Spencer-Bell in so persistently blocking the road, appears to have roused the ire of many of the young men of Keswick to such an extent as to result in a forcible expression of their opinion, at a remarkable demonstration held on Sunday afternoon, when upwards of a hundred of them met at Fawe Park. Without giving any notice beforehand of their intentions, they proceeded to demolish and remove the several barricades, and so effectually did they accomplish their work that the road was quite cleared of obstructions. On Monday morning our Keswick reporter paid a visit the place. He found the two large stone gateposts at the road end at Nichol Ending had been pulled up and each broken into two pieces, rendering them unfit for further use. A large quantity of brushwood which had been placed at the first obstruction after Wednesday's proceedings, and the wooden gate, had been thrown to the other side of the undisputed road. The eight heavy trunks of trees had been put aside, and the wire netting had also been removed. At the far end of the road an attempt bad been made to pull up the iron gate pillars, but without success, for one of the posts taken up last Wednesday had been put in again and more strongly secured than it was before. The iron gate had, however, been twisted off its hinges, and in its present state it cannot do duty again. The entire road in dispute was quite clear of obstructions, and several people visited the place on Monday. The affair much commented upon in the town Generally the action of the youths meets with approval, yet, at the same time, regret is expressed that Sunday should have been chosen as day for the demonstration.

Yesterday (Tuesday) we were informed that the barriers at Fawe Park had been re-erected, and that there is to be another demonstration at Fawe Park this (Wednesday) afternoon."

The president of the KFPS Rev HD Rawnsley had not been present at the organised trespasses however news had got to him as to the proceedings which prompted him to write the following letter which was published in the Pall Mall Gazette; “Absence from England has prevented me from seeing till today the correspondence in your columns about the Keswick rights of way. I hasten to assure your readers how entirely the committee of the Keswick and District Footpaths Association deprecate personalities of any kind in this matter. Those who have attended its meetings will know how the officers and members of the society have insisted again and again that the matter is one which neither the public or the landowners can allow to fall to the level of personal abuse-and one. too, which is so intricate in its bearings and far-reaching in its results that since the 'give and take' and friendly overture as suggested by the society in each case has been refused, it could only well obtain peaceable and just solution by appeal to a higher court. It is because the matter in its ultimate issue must affect a larger England than our little Keswick vale that the committee are the more anxious to steer clear of petty little local squabbles and to claim for all they do in a national cause the dignity of principles and an honourable dealing between the private and public rights that are now so unhappily opposed."

Mr Rawnsley's letter, Mr Jenkinson's speeches and the conduct of the committee of the KFPA make it clear that they saw a bigger issue with regards to the rights of access to the countryside by the general public and do not want to make this a local issue focusing on personal grievances.

Also in the same paper an article referred to the many leading newspapers having comments about the Latrigg dispute: The " Leeds Mercury," after summarising the case. adds that a veritable agitation exists in the Lake District on the subject of access to the summits of hills, and now that the preliminaries to a lawsuit are clear, it may be that the differences will without delay be carefully sifted in the courts, expensive as that process is, with maps, and a retinue of oldest-inhabitant witnesses.—A long article appears in Monday's "Daily Telegraph" in which the question at issue between Mr Spedding and the Association is discussed.

A letter Henry sent to the English Lakes Visitor later the same month illustrates how the Fawe Park and Derwent water disputes were considered as local issues, whereas the right of access to the summit of Latrigg had national implications. Here is a snippet of his letter printed 22nd Oct 1887: “but that other disputed road—the one leading to the top of Latrigg—is closely connected with the question of the right of access to almost every mountain top in Great Britain. It is the knowledge of this fact which makes me, as a guide writer and a lover of mountain climbing, determine that, Come what may, the question must not be allowed to rest until, by reason of ancient usage, by moral right, or by Act of Parliament, all are allowed to visit our mountain summits, and gaze on some of the most magnificent and beautiful scenes that this land affords”.—Yours faithfully, HENRY IRWIN JENKINSON. Keswick, October 19th, 1887."

The ensuing court case was heard the following year in July 1888 at the Carlisle assizes. The appeal for funds to cover the costs of the case had begun in July 1887 when the Footpath Guarantee Defence Fund was set up. It continued right up until the case was heard with letters in publications across the country. The members of the KFPS being personally responsible for the outcome.

English Lakes Visitor 9th June 1888: from a KFPS meeting: I am informed that £2,000 will be necessary to meet an adverse decision. Shame that justice should be so dear! but so it is, and the Society must be prepared for the worst, though the worst is not anticipated. The following resolution was passed with only two dissenting at a crowded meeting of the members of the Footpath Society: " That this meeting empowers the sub-committee to make arrangement, for asserting the public rights to the paths on Latrigg and on the Fawe Park estate in such manner as the solicitor of the society shall recommend, and that the society holds itself responsible for the result." The Society authorised the committee to assert the claims of the public, and the members are morally bound to take their share of the responsibilities incurred in the carrying out of their behest.

Following are the main points from their day in court from an article in the Lakes Chronicle and Reporter Friday 13th July 1888.

The case: THE PUBLIC RIGHT OF WAY TO SKIDDAW. SPEDDING V. FITZPATRICK AND OTHERS was held at the Carlisle Assizes presided over by Mr Justice Grantham on Friday and Saturday 6/7 July 1888, the plaintiff was Miss Jane Spedding, and the defendants were: William Routh Fitzpatrick, Henry Irwin Jenkinson, Rev AR Goddard, Hardwicke Drummond Rawnsley clerk in Holy Orders and others.

The KFPA set up a claim of going to Latrigg hill from 'the road known as " Spooney Green Lane," and so wandering about and over the said hill'. The defendants had also set up a right of using a private occupation road on the plaintiff's estate known as the Lower or Terrace Road, which runs at the foot of Latrigg.

The plaintiff set forth that the defendants had committed various acts of trespass. The defendants alleged that what they did was of right and that they had paid into Court £1 to cover any damage done in the assertion of that right. Mr. Littler, Q.C. were for the plaintiff (instructed by Messrs. Broatch and Gandy, Keswick); and for the defendants there appeared Mr. Bingham, Q.C.; and Mr. Kenelm Digby (instructed by Mr. Lowthian, Keswick).

Mr. Littler opened the case for the plaintiff, Mr. Joseph Broatch, solicitor to the plaintiff, was then called, and deposed to the trespass committed by the defendants and the damage done.

Mr. Bigham then opened the case for the defendants at some length, and then proceeded to call evidence of users. The following were the witnesses, some of whom—in consequence of infirmity through old age—had had their evidence taken by commission. He then read out 20+ statements from Keswick residents who were 65 years old and over, Mr. Bigham said he had a lot of witnesses of the class just examined, but he did not think he need call them all.

Mr. Littler asked why Mr. Jenkinson, the secretary of the Keswick Footpaths Association, had not been called, or any of the leading members of that Association. Mr. Bigham said that Mr. Broatch, the plaintiff's solicitor, a member of the Association, and his friend could call him. Mr. Jenkinson, however, was present, and could be cross examined if desired. Mr Jenkinson, the author of the " Practical Guide to the Lakes," was then called and cross-examined by Mr Littler. He was examined as to the description given in his guide dated 1872 and 1875 of the best way to the top of Latrigg as described in his guide. In that book he advised the tourist to "follow Spooney Green road until the shoulder of Blencathra came in view." Asked why he put that in his guide in preference to Terrace Road, he said that some ladies had complained of finding the hill side so steep that they had slipped down, therefore he selected Spooney Green road as the easier. He said that in his opinion as good a view was be had at the gate on the Zigzag-road as if they went to the actual top of Latrigg, which was only a few feet higher; but on the day of the public demonstration they went to the actual summit of the hill by the path running eastward about 237 yards from the gate. Examined by Mr Bigham: That path was really an old fence, and in order that no mistake might be made in the assertion of the right, one guide went on each side of the fence, which is really a raised mound which some people think had been connected with some Roman camp. It had never had a hedge upon it. When they came to the end of that ridge they could go 88 yards further to the highest point. They went there because he claimed the view from the top of Latrigg. By his Lordship: The lower Terrace road is now of little importance to the public, who have Spooney Green lane.

This concluded the case for the defendants. The Judge suggested that a consultation might lead to an amicable settlement of the case. Mr Littler offered to give up Spooney Green lane and permit people to go to the top of Latrigg so long as no mischief or trespass was done; but the plaintiff could not recognise any right. Mr Bingham said the concession of Spooney Green. lane was nonsense, because that was already admitted to be a public way. He admitted, however, that the Terrace road was not necessary to the public to secure them the enjoyment of the walk to Latrigg and the view from the top, because they could now go by way of Spooney Green-lane.

The counsel had an interview with the Judge in private, and after an hour's consultation returned to court, when Mr Littler said he had given the case, most anxious consideration, because he knew the extreme desire Miss Spedding and Mr Spedding to live in the same harmony with their neighbours which had always existed. He hoped neither side would regard it as a victory, and that the public would recognise their duty to protect the property through which these rights had been conceded.

Judgement was entered for the plaintiff as regards the Terrace-road, and for the defendants as regards the Zigzag or Latrigg road, subject to the terms agreed The Judge said he felt that the settlement was equitable and honourable, and he commended the good feeling which had been exhibited on both sides.

By the time Henry got back to Keswick early evening news that the right of way to the top of Latrigg by the Spooney Green Road and zigzag path had been secured had already reached there and a large number of people had assembled at the Station: to give Mr. Jenkinson and the other defendants in the case a cordial reception. The Keswick Brass Band was present, The Rev. H. D. Rawnsley, Mr. Fitzpatrick, and some others did not arrive till the 8.30 train. When the 6.30 train drew up at the platform and Mr. Jenkinson made his appearance a loud cheer was given by those the platform, and was quickly repeated by the crowd waiting outside. Mr. Jenkinson tried to say a few words to the crowd at the station, but the enthusiasm was so great that it was almost impossible for him to be heard. A procession was then formed and the demonstrators marched into' the town, the band leading the way playing "See the Conquering Hero Comes" With the strains of the band were mingled the cheers of the crowd who brought up the rear. Opposite the Station Hotel a large number of visitors, tourists, and others were assembled, and when Mr. Jenkinson and his escort arrived there they had to make a halt. At the urgent request of some of the visitors Mr Jenkinson at this point gave a speech. He congratulated the people upon the stand which had been maintained in face of the attempt to deprive the public of their right to the top of Latrigg, and contended that they had gained all they desired. He did not care at all for the Terrace Road, so long as they had an undisputed right to go by the Spooney Green road to the top of Latrigg, from which was one of the loveliest views of the whole district. The procession then continued its way into the town, where the triumphant demonstrations were continued the whole evening.

Photo: Mick Garratt. Spooney Green Lane CC BY-SA 2.0

So a compromise had been reached. The KFPS had from the outset been offered such a compromise, the giving up of the Lower Terrace road, over which they claimed rights, but which had ceased to be of little importance since the railway bridge had been constructed and the taking in exchange, as a right, the access to the mountain summit by the zigzag road. So Miss Spedding claimed the Lower Terrace road, and for the defendants the upper road to Latrigg Top (accessed by Spooney Green Lane) each party bearing their own costs. Although this was a victory for the KFPS there were some who thought Spedding could have agreed this without going to court & should have paid all the costs and that KFPS should not have ceded Terrace Road.

The Speddings' though were not gracious in their defeat and the issue did not go away as this article in the West Cumberland Times from the 29th September 1888 explains;

The way to the top of Latrigg has been reopened, as the result of the action at the Carlisle Assizes; but barbed wire fencing has been set up on each side of the way, and the rights of the people are thus restricted to the narrowest possible limits. The cruel fences prevent them wandering at will, as formerly, about the crown of the mountain, and enjoying the several views. Narrow is the way, indeed, which now leads to this paradisical summit—narrow the mind which planned it, and which seems to delight itself in contriving schemes for curtailing the enjoyments of the people.

Also a large number of young fir trees had been planted which, when fully grown, would block out the views from the top of the hill.

What of Fawe Park? Mrs Spencer-Bell took no legal action with regards to the reclaiming of the path through Fawe Park most probably as she would have lost her case and was counselled against it. However this didn't stop her from making the road impassable to carriages and erecting a fence with the sign-age saying 'Private Road'. As a local newspaper article printed September 1888 commented that this most probably wouldn't deter local people who knew of the dispute, but would put off visitors.

Letters and articles continued to appear for a couple of years regarding the disputed footpaths. In 1890 a couple of letters appeared in local newspapers inquiring after the activities of the KFPS as no further action was being taken regarding other rights of way locally.

As with the Fawe Park dispute, access to footpaths on the Derwent water Estate was considered a local issue. The owner Mr RD Marshall (who was a member of the LDDS) had prevented access to some of the footpaths on his estate in the early 1880's. Both Marshall and the KFPA agreed that some of these were public. Rights of access to others, however, were disputed and lengthy negotiations began. Both Marshall and the KFPA wanted to avoid legal action, and both adopted a give-and-take attitude with the KFPA giving up access to some paths as long as they were allowed to use others. Because of the number of paths involved the discussions were complex and lengthy. An agreement was finally reached in July 1990 but not without causing a division within the society.

What became of the KFPS? In the summer of 1890 there are reports of Henry being unwell. He continued with administrative duties but his physical strength was greatly reduced and he died the following year. Around this time Mr Routh Fitzpatrick left the KFPA following a difference of opinion with the committee over the Derwent water footpath disputes and so the society lost the two people who led passionately from the front. Also Canon Rawnsley had decided to put his energy into resolving public access issues through legislature and therefore wanted to keep landowners onside and so the activities of the KFPA fizzled out.

So did Latrigg become'the watchword in the question of access to our mountain tops' as Henry had hoped? Well for a short time. The Latrigg Fell dispute was a test case and set a precedent. Some Landowners removed recently erected fences and footpaths reopened. Indeed in Dorset when Viscount Portman in 1890 closed off the paths to Hambledon & Hod Hill just outside Blandford the subsequent meetings cited the Latrigg case. However the right to roam our countryside and the question of access to common land is an ongoing one.

'If we have no right of access to the summit of Latrigg we have no right to ascend other similar mountains in Great Britain' Henry Irwin Jenkinson Oct 1887

Photo: Andrew Locking. View of Keswick from summit of Latrigg.


By 1890 Henry's health was beginning to fail him as the energy he had put into his work was taking its toll, he was only 51. Before moving onto the final year of his life I want to mention the other projects he put time and effort into especially his passion for organising events that would bring local people together.

The Keswick Old Folks Dinner

First held in December 1872 the Keswick Old Folks Dinner was an annual event originated by Henry, the purpose of which was to bring together local residents over sixty years old, from all backgrounds one afternoon between Christmas and the New Year to share a dinner and entertainment. It was a great success and continued for many years with an average around 200 people attending. There were still reports in the local papers of the 'Old Folks Do' as it came to be known, in 1919.

Here's an account from an early gathering from the Penrith Observer 6th Jan 1874. You'll see many familiar names involved with the event:

'KESWICK: DINNER TO THE AGED POOR. a committee of Keswick gentlemen (Mr H.I. Jenkinson Mr. J. F. Crosthwaite, Mr. R. Mumberson, & Mr. Fisher Banks) were enabled, on Wednesday last, to provide the old folks of the town, over sixty years of age, with a substantial dinner. The tables were set out in the Oddfellows' Hall. Several old people from a distance had conveyances sent for them, and at the time appointed, 160 were comfortably seated. The viands included soup, turkey, goose, roast and boiled beef, mutton, chicken, tarts, puddings, &c. Much praise is due to Mrs. Gill, for the way in which everything was served up.

It was indeed a pleasant sight to see so many old people dressed up in their best, and enjoying the good things before them. The oldest couple were Mr. and Mrs John Harrisen, of Row, both of whom had reached the age of 76 years. The oldest man was Mr. John Twentyman, (87 years), and the oldest woman Mrs. Thompson, (84 years), known as the "quilter," who has during her lifetime quilted 3.170 quilts, which had taken many thousand miles of thread to finish them. Those who could not possibly attend through infirmity had dinner sent to them—making the number altogether 219!'

Once dinner was finished the chair was taken by Mr. J. F. Crosthwaite and the vice-chair by Mr. Mumberson. There were speeches thanking all who had had a hand in organising the event with Mr. Jenkinson acknowledged as the founder of this festive meeting, and then the entertainment began. Once the festivities had concluded 'Conveyances were then in readiness to convey several of the old people to their respective homes. One and all expressing themselves highly gratified with the afternoon's proceedings.'

It became a tradition at the gathering to remember all those who had died during the past year and to acknowledge the oldest residents, and the average age of those over 60. Not everyone in Keswick was supportive of the event. The local temperance society were unhappy that beer was served, and wrote to the local paper accordingly. The committee gave the assurance that alcohol was not abused and no one forced to drink it!

Although Henry was one of the organisers he rarely spoke at the do. However at the dinner held in December 1884 he was Vice Chair of the proceedings and addressed the gathering. This account from the English lakes Visitor 3rd Jan 1885 gives an insight into his thoughts on the purpose of the gathering and society in general.

The VICE-CHAIRMAN said that although he deeply felt the honour the committee had done him by placing him in the vice-chair, he would rather have been a silent listener. Mr. Mumberson had generally taken the position, but last year Mr. Lancaster was appointed. His opinion was that it should be taken in turns by the committee, though he would exclude the clergy. (Laughter. Mr. Rawnsley: Hear, hear.) The speaker was very glad Mr. Rawnsley said "hear, hear." (Laughter.)

Although they were delighted to have the presence of the clergy and to hear their addresses, still the committee were anxious to avoid class or denominational feeling. At one time it was said the Bishop might grace the table with his presence. If he had come he would have had a hearty reception, and his wisdom and wit would have been listened to with pleasure, but he would have had to give precedence to their chairman and take his seat as a guest. He had always been pleased to see Mr. Mumberson in the vice-chair as a representative of the Nonconformists. He was glad to see the Rev. Mr. Colville enter the room, for he would take that place. The two vicars present would understand his remarks and see how it was they were not asked to take that prominent position which appeared to be theirs by right. They were all glad to see Mr. Marshall amongst them, and though they hoped Mr. Crosthwaite would take the chair for many years yet to come Mr. Marshall would, by his position as lord of the manor, be the right man to follow.”

After a few more general remarks, he said “the desire to please and be pleased constituted one of the chief charms of this old folks' dinner, and made it regarded as the most social and pleasant meeting held during the year. This was the principle which actuated the committee, and it was curious that there are people who will persist in looking upon it as a charity dinner. Others look askance, and say the money was wasted and might be more profitably spent. After considering these different views the committee have decided not to let the movement drop, and he thought they had acted rightly. The money comes without canvassing. As an example, he might mention that Lieut.-Col. Campbell, who lives in Kent, takes such an interest in the movement that he always sends a handsome subscription accompanied by his hearty good wishes. (Applause.) Everybody seemed to look with affection upon Keswick, no matter whether they are born here, live here for a few years, or come as tourists. Perhaps this arises from the beautiful scenery and the fact that we are surrounded by mountains, which seem to make us into a little separate world. At these meetings people come together in a thoroughly Christian spirit, not to see and to be seen, but to proclaim a religion of universal brotherhood, which they were too apt to forget through pride, and class distinctions which are the great bane of English social and political life. Anything which has a tendency to bridge over these deserves our fostering care. There must be different grades of society, but that does not necessarily imply estrangement. He wished those who objected to this gathering were present that they might see the happy kindly spirit dwelling amongst them, and that they might all return home the better and happier for it, was his earnest wish. He closed by proposing the health of the Old Folks...”

Henry attended his last OFD in December 1890. At the planning meeting held earlier in the month Henry who had acted as honorary secretary for eighteen years, “desired to be relieved from office, but while there was a disposition to relieve Mr. Jenkinson of any work connected with the office, it was felt that he should be attached to the movement and his name was continued as hon. sec. Mr. T Crowden... kindly undertook to give all the assistance to Mr. Jenkinson that might be required.”

In later years HD Rawnsley became chairman of the organising committee of the ‘Old Folks’ Do’ and very rarely missed the event. His last appearance was Christmas 1919 when he presided over the dinner- (from the HD Rawnsley website).

In the English Lakes Visitor published 31 Dec 1898 there was an article about the OFD mentioning a photo album:“... the resolution to have, photographs taken of three of the oldest " men bodies " and three of the oldest " women bodies." They were to go to Mr Henry Mayson's at their leisure, and each was to have a copy, and a copy was to be placed in the Museum, in an album, with portraits of Mr Jenkinson the founder, Mr Fisher Crosthwaite for 23 years president, and the subsequent presidents.” It would be great to see that album, if it still exists.

It is worth noting that Henry had also wanted to organise a 'young folks do' to be held at New Year but this idea never got off the ground.

Out of interest

Henry was also noted for the following happenings, worthy of articles in the local papers:

-There was a lost tourist Ennerdale August 1876, Henry led the search and assisted in the recovery of the body for which he received in gratitude from the man's widow and children a valuable gold hunting key-less chronometer watch and chain and compass with inscription. The Lakes Chronicle Oct 1876

-He organised the Derwent water amateur regatta and athletics sports August 1877. Unfortunately the day was a wash out! “Even Mr Jenkinson couldn't do anything about the weather.”

-Henry arranged a tour for the Skiddaw Rock Band among the principal Cumberland towns. Concerts were held at Cockermouth, Workington, Maryport, Whitehaven, Keswick, Penrith and Carlisle. The Skiddaw Rock Band comprised of Mr Daniel Till, of Keswick, and his two sons with vocals by two ladies Miss Till and Miss Armstrong. The Westcumberland Times 4th Oct 1879 reported: The history of the rock harmonicon has elsewhere been written, and the character and constitution of the musical stones have been fully described by the Rev J. Clifton Ward, of geological fame. Mr Till and his sons were engaged eight years in perfecting their unique instrument. It consists simply of stones, eighty in number, and varying from half-a-foot to four feet in length picked up on Skiddaw and the neighbouring mountains. But these simple fragments of rock, under the hands, or hammers, of Messrs Till, can be made to produce—in harmonious concatenation—the most dulcet sounds in universal nature. A musical stones harmonica is kept at the Keswick museum.


In 1890 Henry's health was starting to fail him and by the spring of 1890 reports of Henry's ill health were making the local papers. This from the Penrith Observer 27th May:

Mr. H. I. Jenkinson, of Keswick has not been a great deal heard of during the last year or so, and we very much regret to learn that broken health is the cause of his retirement from public affairs. No more genial man, nor one more worthy of esteem, ever trod the streets of Keswick, and there is scarcely a visitor to the English Lake District who does not owe some of the pleasure there obtained to the self•sacrificing labours of Henry Irwin Jenkinson. The public memory for services rendered is notoriously short, and it is to be feared the gratitude of a large section of Englishmen is to be measured by an equally short span. We have had many opportunities in years gone by of noting the extraordinary capacity for work possessed by Mr Jenkinson, and have frequently marveled how he managed to get through it. It is a matter of common knowledge that frequently his own affairs were neglected in his anxiety and zeal for the public welfare, especially of the community in which he lived. Certainly the people of Keswick have had in him a servant such as is rarely found, for the simple reason that his services were gratuitous. No thought of reward, we thoroughly believe, ever entered his head, his sole aim being to secure the rights and enjoyments of the people. Mr. Jenkinson found ample recompense in a walk round the Fitz Park, watching the children, the youths, and the adults of the town, to say nothing of the thousands of visitors, enjoying themselves in that miniature fairyland. To his indomitable energy, patience, and skill the public owe the preservation of many valuable rights. The Keswick and District Footpaths Preservation Society, in its early stages especially, meant Mr. Jenkinson, the other officers and members being only too willing to follow his lead, and since Mr. Jenkinson's illness the Society does not appear to have done the slightest good. Beyond the service rendered in the directions already indicated, Mr. Jenkinson has done more than any other single person, by means of his graphically written guides, to popularise the beauties of the Lake District. We are informed that by way of recognising Mr. Jenkinson's public services lists have been opened at the banks in the town. As there cannot be a question that his long-continued work on behalf of his fellow-men has been the chief cause of his break down, it is sincerely to be hoped there will be a worthy response to what is nothing lees than a call to duty.

At this news his friends set up the Jenkinson Testimonial Fund. Lakes Herald 30th May 1890 “We are informed that by way of recognising Mr. Jenkinson's public services lists have been opened at the banks in Keswick. As there cannot be a question that his long-continued work on behalf of his fellow-men has been the chief cause of his break down, it is sincerely to be hoped there will be a worthy response to what is nothing less than a call to duty. -The Odd Man.”

He recovered to the extent that by the end of the year he was writing letters, attending a meeting of the Fitz Park Trustees on the 6th December 1890 at which reference was made to his ill health. At this point Henry was not willing to step down despite his friends concerns, even so Mr T Crowden was voted in as assistant secretary.

His friends concerns were well founded, The following year in May 1891 whilst in Ingleton quite some miles from home, Henry suffered a severe stroke which paralysed him:

Lakes Chronicle 29th May 1891: REPORTED ILLNESS OF MR H I JENKINSON. It was reported in Keswick last evening that Mr. Henry Irwin Jenkinson had been seriously ill at lngleton. As far as we can learn Mr. Jenkinson was seized with paralysis, and speechless when the news was dispatched to Keswick.

His brother Benjamin had him brought to a hospital in East London so that he could be near to his family. He died on the 28th Aug 1891 aged 52 at Brentwood, Essex and he was buried at West Ham Cemetery in the September. His brother Benjamin and niece with her husband (Emily Ada Birks nee Jenkinson & George Birks) were the chief mourners.

Henry never married and lived in lodgings. He died financially poor, indeed with liabilities of over £100, as reported in the English Lakes Visitor 15th April 1893. A small amount was still outstanding by the end of 1893 and an appeal was made at the Old Folks Dinner in December that year.

There were many tributes published in the local papers all expressing the high regard with which they held Henry and give some insight into his character.

-West Cumberland Times 2nd Sept 1891:

DEATH OF MR HENRY IRWIN JENKINSON. It is seldom that intelligence of the death of a well-known member of a community evokes a greater expression of sympathetic feeling than did the news of the demise of Mr Henry Irwin Jenkinson when it reached Keswick on Saturday morning... His name will ever be a revered memory so long as Keswick has a history. To know him was to know one of the most unselfish of men. He was so devoted to the work of making the lot of his fellow men run on pleasant lines in this world that he had an utter unconsciousness of self, and exercised his talents wholly for the public good... Keswickians have lost a champion of their rights who can never be replaced. His courageous action in the matter of opposing the landowners who sought to close paths and roads over which the public sought rights of way should secure for him a never to be forgotten name amongst visitors to the Lake District. The town of Keswick would not now boast of its beautiful Fitz Recreation Grounds if there had been no Mr Jenkinson, for to him alone belongs the honour of its existence as a park. His labours on its behalf were never relaxed from beginning to end and his connection with it. In all things affecting the interests of Keswick Mr Jenkinson evinced a keen interest, and with the townspeople his opinion carried considerable weight. There is not a man living today who will be more missed than Mr Jenkinson in Keswick.

- English Lakes Visitor 5th Sept 1891:


In the death of Mr. Henry Irwin Jenkinson, Keswick has cause to mourn the loss of a true friend. He came here a young man more than quarter of a century ago, from Yorkshire, to take office as station-master. He soon learned to love the Lakes and mountains with an ardour which was the distinguishing feature of his character. At a later time while he had charge of Mr. Flintoft's model he was induced by Mr. Stanford to write his " Practical Guide to the Lake District."... The book was given its right position, and to-day is the recognised guide. ….What he did for the Lake District he did for the Isle of Man, North Wales, the lsle of Wight, Carlisle and the Roman Wall, and in each instance his work elicited the highest praise for its thorough practicality....But, standard as his books are, it is not so much for them that Keswick will hold him in remembrance.

He was the originator of the Old Folks' Gathering, a social party which seems yearly to gain favour, and which brings together all sections of our little community and adds a new strand to the bond of friendship and neighbourliness.

Our Fitz Park, one of the most beautiful public pleasure grounds in the kingdom, owes its existence to him, and while grass grows and flowers bloom so long ought he not to be forgotten. When he set about to save the land from the builder he had not the slightest idea how his efforts would ultimately be backed, but he was sanguine that he could accomplish the scheme he had then in view. He spared neither time, money, nor personal exertion to rouse a public opinion enthusiastic as his own. His soul was in the work he had undertaken or he would have given way under the rebuffs with which he met. Many a time was his sensibility badly wounded by insinuation. that he was seeking his own ends, but, conscious he was doing the best for the people, by some of whom he was grievously misunderstood, he affected to know nothing of the thoughts of his traducers and pushed steadily on.... Further he would have pushed the Trustees to complete his ideal, but they had to restrain him, afraid that his sanguineness would lead to inextricable difficulty. He wanted a building that should be a kind of everybody's club where innocent amusement could be sought at a free library, a gymnasium, baths, &c.

Before he had done with the Fitz Park business he undertook the duty of hon. sec. to the Footpath Preservation Association, and here his marvelous capacity for work was the mainstay of the whole organisation. The thousands of circulars he sent out, and the vast amount of correspondence which he had to attend to (all of which he seemed unwilling to let any other person share) trenched so much upon his time that it was not an uncommon thing for him to be busy writing during the night. No doubt the additional work which he took upon himself, coupled with troubles connected with his business, began to tell upon his constitution. He had been a strong, and hearty man and never felt the weight of years, but his friends saw there was a change, and a serious change too, taking place. Latterly his condition was such as to cause his friends great concern about him. It was felt that he needed rest, but rest was out of the question with him, for that sturdy independence which would own to no trouble was difficult to deal with, and rendered the assistance of friends very nearly impossible.

His illness, as could only be anticipated in the circumstances grew upon him and the closing part of his useful life was clouded by pitiful infirmity. He died at Brentwood at one o'clock on Friday morning the -28th August, and was interred at West Ham Cemetery on Tuesday, September 1st Mr. and Mrs. B. S. Jenkinson (brother and sister. in-law) and Mr. and Mrs. G. W. Birks (nephew and niece) were the chief mourners. Poor Jenkinson! the grave has never closed over the remains of a more thoroughly unselfish man. His desires were constantly for the benefit of the people, and it may be truly said that the best part of his life was spent in their service.

The people of Keswick wanted to find a permanent way in which to remember and honour Henry. To this ends a public meeting was held very shortly after his death and much discussion was had trying to agree a suitable memorial. Meanwhile subscriptions were being paid into the bank. There was a proposal that the public should be asked to discharge the small debt left by Henry on his death, stating that 'Mr Jenkinson would, had he lived, never have rested until he had become free from these embarrassments, and that it would be a graceful compliment to his memory to wipe away such debts'. However there was a general feeling that 'many individuals will not contribute towards an undefined object'. John Peel 17th Oct 1891 West Cumberland Times.

Henry's nephew, GW Birks sent a letter to the English Lakes Visitor which was printed on the 12th Sept 1891 supporting a memorial:

THE LATE MR H. I JENKINSON, To the Editor of the Visitor and Guardian. DEAR SIR, -I read with much interest the very able letter from the pen of Mr. W. R. Fitzpatrick in your issue of the 5th. It is very gratifying to see that Keswick is not behind in coming forward with suggestions how to perpetuate Mr. H. H .Jenkinson 's name. Now is the opportunity for all who have been, and are interested in the English Lake District, to come forward and help to swell the number of those who are willing, both with suggestions and practical help, for the purpose of keeping the name of Mr. H. I. Jenkinson ever green before their minds. The present is the time, and Keswick the place, to show this sympathy with one whom I believe has given the best part of his life for Keswick and neighbourhood, rather than to himself. Some would and perhaps do say that he was an enemy to himself; let that be as it may; all those who knew him, whether in private or public life, can truly testify as to the value and benefit he has been to the Lake District. That alone, sir, ought to be an incentive to all who have come in contact with him, to do him honour. I do not write this letter for the purpose of giving suggestions or telling Keswickians what to do and how to do it. No! for that would he out of place for me to do so; but at the same time I feel a keen interest in the welfare of Keswick. For some years, from time to time, I have been coached up with its local affairs. Unless this interest is kept up by the local celebrities I fear any scheme that might be thought of will drift into oblivion. I wish to honour the dear name of Henry Irwin Jenkinson for his enthusiastic love of Keswick and the Lake District. Strike Strike!! while the iron is hot; and I trust that the public of Keswick will determine that it will do something, and do it well, to perpetuate his name, is the wish of yours faithfully; —Nephew to the late Henry Irwin Jenkinson, G. W. BIRKS, New Barnet, Herts, Sept. 8th, I89I.

At the Old Folks' Do held in Dec 1891, the first after Henry's death tributes were made. This account from the English Lakes Visitor 2nd Jan 1892:

The chair at the after proceedings was again taken by Mr. J. FISHER CROSTHWAITE, He said...”There was another letter from the Antipodes, in which a lady writes, " We have sent a lamb for the Old Folks' Dinner, which we hope you will receive in time. We have sent it in remembrance of my late brother, Mr. H. I. Jenkinson. I think the lamb will go by the ' Doric,' but am not quite sure. You can say it was sent by his sisters." Mr. Crosthwaite stated that Mr. Jenkinson had two sisters in New Zealand. He had correspondence with the late husband of one of the ladies—the Rev. Mr. Tonkinson.

Their late good friend, Mr. Henry Irwin Jenkinson, who originated this gathering, wrote to him last year a very characteristic letter, which be had that day found among his papers. In memory of Mr. Jenkinson, he thought he would read it. It said, " Dear sir—Don't appoint me to any office to-night; I always act as over looker and in charge of the beer." And so it was, he used to cut out the work and overlook it, it was his way always. He might take this opportunity to quote from the letter of another friend, who said, " Keswick owes much to Jenkinson. You are talking about some monument, the better the people do it the more honour they will do to themselves." (Applause.) The subject had been broached, but it " hung fire," not from lack of interest, but, he felt, because it needed to be put before the people in a more prominent way. He was sure if every person who can afford gave sixpence, a shilling, or half-a-crown,—if they put their hands in their pockets and did credit to their feelings—there would soon be enough to accomplish the object. The first thing sought was to put up a substantial monument to his memory in the Fitz Park—something worthy—that should endure as long as the park and there was another object along with it which might be effected.

The Vicar of CROSTHWAITE read the memorial sonnet which he composed at the time of Mr. Jenkinson's death and then went on to say, “He should always regret the taking away of their friend Jenkinson, for no man of his public spirit can be spared. From many talks with him, the speaker knew that upon this Old Folks "do " was centred much of his religious teaching. Mr. Jenkinson felt there should be some day on which all could meet on an equality, with social gladness, and in a way Christ would have them meet, with love in their hearts. They might feel that the spirit of that public-spirited man was with them. As long as they met he trusted they would remember what Mr. Jenkinson had done for the town and neighbourhood.”

Finally, after a number of meetings and much discussion the decision was made to have gates made to the entrance of Fitz Park that commemorated Henry. The money was raised, the work commissioned and in the summer of 1893 there was a formal opening of the Jenkinson memorial gates.

Photo © Stephen Craven (cc-by-sa2.0) Jenkinson memorial gates Fitz Park.

At the ceremony Mr. Fisher Crosthwaite represented the Fitz Park Trustees. There were speeches to much applause. Mr Crosthwaite was then handed the key by HD Rawnsley, the Vicar of Crosthwaite after which the gate was unlocked and the those present filed though into the park.

It was Henry's friend and associate in so many schemes, Mr Rawnsley, who gave the main address, the full version of which can be found in the English Lakes Visitor 8th July 1893. He said of Henry:

'We are think of a Yorkshireman... who was a benefactor to this town, for Henry Irwin Jenkinson was a Yorkshireman who came here about twenty-eight years ago as stationmaster of Keswick. In a way Jenkinson needs no monument. If you seek one, look around. (Applause.) This beautiful playground and public park are really due to him.... Nor is this the only monument of his public spirit. The Old Folks' Dinner is a perpetual memorial of his kindness and his wish to see others happy. There is a third monument, of which I can speak with more knowledge. I mean the literary monument of Henry Irwin Jenkinson's "Guide to the English Lakes.'' It is a very remarkable book. and in its accuracy will stand the test of time. The same motive that inspired him to obtain the public park and the old folks' dinner, I know inspired him as he worked at that book—he wished that other people should enjoy all that he had enjoyed.

Mr. Jenkinson died, as you know, a poor man. If he had spent upon himself the time he spent upon the public he would have died a rich man. Indeed, if he had been able to get all that belonged to him he would have been in a much better financial position. He died worn out, not so much by work as by worry largely caused by what he regarded as debts of honour which hung about his neck like a millstone, and which be wished, and which he believed he would be able to honourably discharge. Mr. Jenkinson had his faults. We all have them. But he had a singular virtue, the virtue of public spirit and it would be bad for any community when such public spirited men did not exist and whenever public spirit is not adequately recognised.”


The testimonies speak for themselves. Henry had led a selfless life, gaining much satisfaction from making the lives of others more enjoyable. He was a passionate fell walker and mountaineer, a tenacious, courageous, public spirited man whose conscientiousness led to his own demise. He wished for a more equitable society and what he achieved during his life time for the people of Keswick and beyond went some way to achieving this.

I shall leave the last word to HD Rawnsley who wrote this sonnet on hearing of the death of his friend.



August 28th, 1891.

On moor and fell, in silent mountain places,

We meet him still to ask him of the way.

By pathless crag. where streams perplexing stray.

Each shepherd's track familiarly he traces

Or, where the Greta by the grey town races

And brims its pools, now solemn and now gay,

He mingles with the old men at their play

Or gazes on the children's happy faces.

But whether through green park or purple mountain

Free on the sunny height, by shore or wood,

That never-resting spirit haunts us still!

His heart of hope springs upward like a fountain,

Who blessed the far-off future, and whose will

Was ever set to serve the public good.


Researched and written by Sheila Wiggins, descendant of Henry Irwin Jenkinson.

Henry was my great-great uncle. His brother Benjamin my great great grandfather whose daughter Emily Ada Jenkinson married George W Birks, my mother's paternal grandparents.

The photographs of Henry have come from an album belonging to Ada circa 1884.

Information sources:

-British Newspaper Archives

-The excellent HD Rawnsley website regarding the LDDS & Derwentwater footpaths dispute. To find out more about HD Rawnsley go to written by his great grand daughter Rosalind Rawnsley.

Further information:

At a time when we are cherishing our parks and countryside more than ever it is worth noting that the issue of access to these valuable open spaces is an ongoing one.

For example with the sale of land for development many long standing footpaths are lost and access to the open countryside denied. Also in urban areas many local town squares and/or parks that are considered public spaces are not in fact owned by the local authority but by a private individual or company with all the legal restrictions that go with that. (the right to assemble etc.)

So it's important to remain vigilant and there are many people out there doing some great work on a local and national level. Here's a handful that I've particularly engaged with:

-The Open Spaces Society that has been “protecting open spaces since 1865.”

-The Ramblers Association with their Find Map Save footpaths campaign.

-The Slow Ways, a project 'creating a network of walking routes that connect all of Great Britain’s towns and cities”

-Some good information about the history of land ownership in Nick Hayes' 'The Book of Trespass'

-Also this website:

Also do visit: to find out more of the history of Keswick.

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