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People of the Sacred Valley

More Hidden Cumbrian Histories

Paul Eastham


It might seem to be a picture-perfect, serene and utterly remote fragment of rural England.

Yet the towns and villages along the sixty-mile course of the beautiful Derwent River inspired a lot of remarkable people – and saw a lot of trouble.

Some of the inhabitants of Keswick, Cockermouth, Workington and their neighbours Maryport and Whitehaven created world-famous art and literature. Others built fortunes, wielded enormous political power, created industries or steered world-changing events.

But these achievements often came at a heavy price. The twenty-one real-life stories in this work of Cumbrian history include:

  • A corrupt moneybags accidentally made a town beautiful as he sneakily bought up an election.
  • A pioneering doctor gave everything she had to establish a hospital for the poor, only to find her own Government was killing the people she aimed to save.
  • An innocent German miner was bludgeoned to death by a jealous Cumbrian mob after he and his Continental colleagues left the local girls swooning.
  • A cautious General narrowly escaped a firing squad after he volunteered to carry out a King’s impossible military fantasy.
  • A brilliant girl was savagely beaten by her tyrant father grew up to start the tabloid tradition of woman-hating columnists.
  • A lecherous slaveowner’s pretensions to gentility collapsed when two girls he imported for his own pleasure escaped into the night…

People of the Sacred Valley features famous names such as John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Sara Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Hardwicke Rawnsley, Emperor Hadrian, Sheila Fell and Hugh Walpole, Queen Elizabeth I, William Pitt the Elder, Charles Dickens, John Ruskin, William Hazlitt, John Maynard Keynes and L.S.Lowry play major roles.

It also shines new light on others whose stories have become obscured by time such as William Senhouse, Dame Edith Brown, Eliza Lynn Linton, Richard Graham, Viscount Preston, Sir John Mordaunt, Arthur Pigou, Celia Fiennes, Cumbria’s Viking invaders… and the barmaid of the Royal Oak Hotel, Keswick.


Fletcher Christian Publishers



Publication Date:

2021 September


Paperback; 220 x 127mm



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