Ancient extent of Westmorland
|o 1831||485,990 acres (1,966.7 km2)|
|o 1911||505,330 acres (2,045.0 km2)|
|o 1961||504,917 acres (2,043.33 km2)|
|o Origin||Barony of Kendal,|
Barony of Westmorland
|o Created||13th century|
|o Succeeded by||Cumbria|
|Status||Historic county (current)|
Ceremonial county (until 1974)
Administrative county (1889-1974)
|Government||Westmorland County Council (1889-1974)|
|o HQ||Appleby (historic county town)|
County Hall, Kendal (1889-1974)
Arms of Westmorland County Council
|o Type||Baronies and Wards|
Westmorland (; formerly also spelt Westmoreland; even older spellings are Westmerland and Westmereland; the people of Westmorland are known as Westmerians) is a historic county in north-west England. It formed an administrative county between 1889 and 1974, after which the whole county was administered by the new administrative county of Cumbria. In 2013, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, formally recognised and acknowledged the continued existence of England's 39 historic counties, including Westmorland.
At the time of Domesday Book in 1086, parts of the county were considered either to form part of Yorkshire or to be within the separate Kingdom of Strathclyde. The Normans conquered the area that is now Cumbria in 1092 during the reign of William II and created the baronies of Kendal and Westmorland. These were originally distinct jurisdictions with separate sheriffs, but were formed into a single county of Westmorland in 1226/7. Before 1226 the Barony of Kendal was connected to the Earldom or Honour of Lancaster while that of Westmorland was part of the Earldom of Carlisle.
The historic county boundaries are with Cumberland to the north, County Durham and Yorkshire to the east, and Lancashire to the south and west. Windermere forms part of the western border with Lancashire north of the sands, and Ullswater part of the border with Cumberland.
Appleby, the historic county town, formed a historic borough and was not reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, although reform came in 1885. Kendal was reformed as a municipal borough in 1835.
The baronies were each further subdivided into two wards:
In 1889, under the Local Government Act 1888, a county council was created for Westmorland, taking functions from the Quarter Sessions. Westmorland had no county boroughs throughout its history, so the administrative county, the area under the control of the county council, was coterminous with the geographic county. The county council was based at Kendal, rather than the historic county town of Appleby.
In 1905 a new Shap urban district was formed, while Windermere absorbed the neighbouring Bowness UD.
A County Review Order in 1935 reduced the number of districts in the county:
Despite their title, many of Westmorland's urban districts, such as Lakes, Grasmere, and Shap, were quite rural in character.
|Municipal Borough of Appleby||1,944|
|Municipal Borough of Kendal||21,602|
|Lakes Urban District||5,815|
|Windermere Urban District||8,065|
|North Westmorland Rural District||14,778|
|South Westmorland Rural District||20,633|
In 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, the county council was abolished and its former area was combined with Cumberland and parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire to form the new county of Cumbria, administered by a new Cumbria County Council. The area forms parts of the districts of South Lakeland and Eden.
In July 2021 Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government announced proposals for the dissolution of Cumbria County Council and the smaller local councils to form two unitary authorities in their place. The eastern authority would reunite the entirety of Westmorland along with Furness, Eden and the Sedbergh area.
Westmorland County Council was granted a coat of arms by the College of Arms in 1926. The design of the shield referred to the two components of the county: on two red bars (from the arms of the de Lancaster family, Barons of Kendal) was placed a gold apple tree (from the seal of the borough of Appleby, for the Barony of Westmorland). The crest above the shield was the head of a ram of the local Herdwick breed. On the ram's forehead was a shearman's hook, a tool used in the handling of wool. The hook was part of the insignia of the borough of Kendal, the administrative centre of the county council.
Westmorland is still used as a place name by organisations and businesses in the area such as:
In June 1994, during the 1990s UK local government reform, the Local Government Commission published draft recommendations suggesting that Westmorland's border with Yorkshire and Lancashire be restored for ceremonial purposes. The final recommendations, published in October 1994, did not include such recommendations, apparently due to lack of expression of support for the proposal to the commission.