Blennerhasset and Torpenhow

Coordinates: 54°45′00″N 03°15′18″W / 54.75000°N 3.25500°W / 54.75000; -3.25500
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Location of Blennerhasset and Torpenhow
Church of St Michael and All Angels, Torpenhow
Building at Torpenhow, formerly the Sun Inn

Blennerhasset and Torpenhow (locally /blɛnˈrsɪt/ and /trəˈpɛnə/) is a civil parish in Cumbria, England. According to the 2001 census it had a population of 437, reducing to 423 at the 2011 Census.[1] It includes the villages of Blennerhasset grid reference NY178415 and Torpenhow at NY202397 and the smaller settlement of Kirkland Guards at NY187401. It is located just outside the Lake District National Park. Baggrow railway station was immediately north of Blennerhasset.[2]

The local pronunciation of Torpenhow is trə-PEN, rather than the more intuitive TOR-pen-how (/ˈtɔːrpənh/).[3][4] Blennerhasset is pronounced blen-RAY-sit (/blɛnˈrsɪt/) instead of BLEN-ər-hass-it (/ˈblɛnərhæsɪt/) as would be expected outside of Cumbria.

St Michael's Church, Torpenhow has a Norman chancel arch with a remarkable carving of interlocking human figures, and a painted wooden ceiling.


Blennerhasset is of uncertain etymology, one possible source is that it comes from the Old Norse heysætr 'hay shieling', which has been added to a Brythonic place-name containing blaen, 'top'. The -er- part in the middle " is asserted by Ekwall[5] on the supposition that the full first element corresponded to Welsh blaen-dre, 'hill farm' ".[6] However sæt is also found in place names of Old English origin as a term for a settlement and may also be influenced by Old English sīde. 'Hay' is also found in Old English in both placenames and literary sources with a variety of different spellings and variations such as hēg, hīeg, hīg, hew, heġe and ġehæġ along with Middle English haye and heye. These words range in modern translation as being Hay, Hedge and referring to open plains, fields or farms.

Interpretations of Torpenhow have developed over time. In Place-Names of Cumberland (1950) Torpenhow was etymologized as "Tosti's howe" (with howe deriving from Old Norse haugr 'hill, mound'),[7] against a tradition identifying the name as an example of tautology in place-names, first proposed by Denton (1688).[8] Denton interpreted tor, pen and how as three elements all with the base meaning "hill".[a]

Ekwall's Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-names (4th ed. 1960) accepted Denton's torr+pen+howe etymology (against the 1950s "Tosti" proposal), but notes that torr+penn is not tautological. He expresses the idea of "top or breast of the hill", to which howe was added in a (single) tautology.[9] The most recent published etymology is the '"[r]ocky summit" to which was added "hill-spur"', the three elements of Torpenhow deriving from, Old English torr 'a rock, a rocky outcrop, a rocky peak', Primitive Welsh penn 'head, end, top, height, a hill', and Old English hōh 'a heel; a sharply projecting piece of ground'.[10]

It is also possible that the name Torpenhow might simply be entirely Brittonic and composed of the elements tor ("heap of rocks") + pen ("a summit") and the plural suffix ou (Welsh torpenau).[11]

The local pronunciation of Torpenhow Village is /trəˈpɛnə/, though the more intuitive pronunciation /ˈtɔːrpənh/ is also used.[4]


Blennerhasset and Torpenhow is part of the Workington constituency of the UK parliament. The current Member of Parliament is Mark Jenkinson, a member of the Conservative Party. Prior to the 2019 general election, the Labour Party had won the seat in every general election since 1979; the Conservative Party had previously only been elected once in Workington since the Second World War: in the 1976 Workington by-election.[12]

For Local Government purposes it is in the Cumberland unitiary authority area.

Its parish council is Blennerhasset and Torpenhow Parish Council.[13]

Blennerhasset Mill[edit]

Blennerhasset Mill (at grid reference NY1844041890) is on the south bank of the River Ellen.[14]

Roman fort[edit]

A Roman fort[15] is situated on the old Roman Road between Old Carlisle grid reference NY263466 and Papcastle grid reference NY109314


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Denton apprarently exaggerated the example to a "Torpenhow Hill", which would quadruple the "hill" element, but the existence of a toponym "Torpenhow Hill" is not substantiated.[4]


  1. ^ "Parish population 2011". Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  2. ^ 1860 Ordnance Survey map
  3. ^ "Pardon? Where did you say that was?". BBC. Retrieved 1 February 2020.
  4. ^ a b c Francis, Darryl (2003). "The Debunking of Torpenhow Hill". Word Ways. 36 (1): 6–8.
  5. ^ Ekwall, Eilert (1922). The place-names of Lancashire. Manchester: Chetham Society.
  6. ^ Armstrong, A. M.; Mawer, A.; Stenton, F. M.; Dickens, B. (1950). The place-names of Cumberland. English Place-Name Society, vol.xxi. Vol. part 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 265–66.
  7. ^ Armstrong, 1950, p.266
  8. ^ Thomas Denton: A Perambulation of Cumberland, 1687-8, including descriptions of Westmorland, the Isle of Man and Ireland
  9. ^ The same etymology is also accepted by Mills, David (2011). A Dictionary of British Place-Names. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199609086.
  10. ^ English, University of Nottingham - Institute of Name Studies School of. "Key to English Place-names". Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  11. ^ James, Alan. "Brittonic Language in the Old North: A Guide to the Place-Name Evidence" (PDF).
  12. ^ "A vision of Britain website – general elections section". Retrieved 27 April 2012.
  13. ^ "Blennerhasset and Torpenhow Parish Council".
  14. ^ RSL (26 May 2013). "Blennerhasset Mill - Blennerhasset". Retrieved 13 September 2023.
  15. ^ "Blennerhasset Roman Fort - Roman Britain". Retrieved 13 September 2023.

External links[edit]

54°45′00″N 03°15′18″W / 54.75000°N 3.25500°W / 54.75000; -3.25500