In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Shap like this:
SHAP, a village and a parish in West Ward district, Westmoreland. The village stands on the Lancaster and Carlisle railway, amid a high moorland tract, 12 miles S S E of Penrith; was anciently called Heppe; consists of a long straggling street; is a seat of petty sessions and apolling place; and has a head post-office‡ designated Shap, Westmoreland, a r. station with telegraph, an ancient church with a low tower, a Wesleyan chapel, an endowed school for boys with £38 a year, an endowed school for girls with £14, charities £22, a weekly market on Monday, and fairs on 4 May and 28 Sept. ...
The parish contains also ten hamlets, the chapelry of Swindale, and part of the chapelry of Mardale. Acres, 27, 770. Real property, £3, 242. Pop., 991. Houses, 201. The property is subdivided. Most of the surface is lofty, moorish, and bleak; and a great tract of it, in the S W, bears the name of Shap fells. The railway traverses the S part, through a precipitous cut 60 feet deep, at an elevation of about 1,000 feet above sea-level; and passes the village itself through a deep cutting. A Pre-monstratensian abbey was founded at Preston-Patrick, in 1119, by Thomas Gospatrick; was removed, in 1150, to a site about a mile W of Shap village; had there extensive and magnificent buildings, now represented by little more than the great tower of the church; was the burial-place of its founder, of the Veteriponts, of the Cliffords, and of others; was given at the dissolution, to Lord Wharton; and passed, by sale, to an ancestor of the Earl of Lonsdale. A mineral spring, called Shapspa, is within Crosby-Ravensworth parish, 3½ miles S by E of Shap village; is of saline quality similar to the spa of Leamington; and has suites of baths and a hotel. Granite, blue slate, and limestone, are within Shap parish; and Druidical monuments are at Gunnerskeld and Carl-Lofts. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Carlisle. Value, £92.* Patron, the Earl of Lonsdale. The p. curacies of Swindale and Mardale are separate benefices. Mills, the critic, was a native.
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing Shap has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of Eden. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Shap and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Shap, in Eden and Westmorland | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 23rd May 2013
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