The summit rock of Castle Crag

“The highest point is a boss of rock, and this is crowned by a professionally-made round flat-topped cairn, below which, set in the rock, is a commemorative tablet: a war memorial to the men of Borrowdale, effective and imaginative.”
Alfred Wainwright, The North Western Fells, 1963

The cairn has since been shaped into a small wind shelter.

Castle Crag War Memorial

Castle Crag was given to the
National Trust in memory of
2nd Lieut 6th KSLI Born July 8 1897
Killed in action March 22 1918
Also of
The following men of Borrowdale
Who died for the same cause
2nd Lieut H.E. Layland R.E.
Pte G. Bird 1st Border Regt
Pte E. J. Boow 2nd Border Regt
Pte J.H. Dover 11th Border Regt
Pte J. Edmondson 1st Border Regt
Pte F. Hindmoor 7th Border Regt
Pte W. Nicholson 5th Border Regt
Pte T. Richardson 6th Border Regt
Pte J.W. Rigg 8th Border Regt
Pte A.E. Wilson Kings Own Royal Lancasters

In 1918, Sir William Hamer and his wife, Agnes, purchased the land on top of Castle Crag for £150 from the executors of the Estate of Colonel CV Conway Gordon, as a memorial to their son, John, aged 20, who was killed in France in March 1918, during the First World War. In 1920, William and Agnes handed over the land to the National Trust, with a request that a plaque affixed to the summit rock on Castle Crag to be solely in memory of their son. However, shortly before his death on 28th May 1920, Canon Hardwicke Drummond Rawnsley, one of the founder members of the National Trust, suggested that the dedication should also include the ten men of Borrowdale who also died in the First World War. Canon Rawnsley was also a Chaplain to the King and Chaplain to the Border Regiment Territorials (and the army rank of Colonel). The plaque, made from local green slate, was erected on 11th June 1921.

William Heaton Hamer was born in Leeds in 1862, the eldest son of John Hamer, J.P. He was a scholar of Christ’s College, Cambridge and graduated twelfth wrangler in 1882. He adopted the profession of medicine, and was Kirkes Scholar and Lawrence Scholar at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical School. He qualified M.R.C.S. in 1886 and graduated M.B. in the following year. Hamer became a member of the Royal College of Physicians of London in 1889 and became a M.D. in 1890. He entered the medical service of the London County Council in 1892 and joined the British Medical Association in 1893. He was elected F.R.C.P. in 1895. In 1912, he succeeded Sir Shirley Murphy as Medical Officer of Health and School Medical Officer. Hamer was awarded the Bissett Hawkins medal in 1920 and received the honour of knighthood in January 1923. He retired on 31st December 1925.

The Sir William Hamer Memorial

The land surrounding the summit of Castle Crag
was given to the nation in memory of
by his wife AGNES whom this seat commemorates

This memorial is located on the western side of Castle Crag, beside the path leading down into Broadslack Gill, which then continues to the village of Grange. You can descend this way if you wish, and then reunite with the Lakeland Way path at Castle Hawes (the head of Broadslack Gill).

Sir William Hamer died at the age of seventy-four years on 7th July 1936. In 1938, acting on behalf of Agnes, Samuel Hamer asked William Heelis, the husband of Beatrix Potter, to seek the possibility of purchasing the wooded slopes of Castle Crag. As a result of the purchase, the 23 acre Hows Wood was given to the National Trust by the family in memory of Sir William Hamer.

William and Agnes lived at 55 Dartmouth Park Hill, London. I don’t know of any other connection the family had with the Lake District, either by owning any land or property in the area. However, William’s brother, Samuel Hamer, was the secretary of the National Trust from 1911 to 1933, and the family clearly had a fondness for Castle Crag and the surrounding area.

Castle Crag seen from Castle Hawes (the head of Broadslack Gill)
Derwent Water seen from the summit of Castle Crag
Borrowdale and the village of Rosthwaite from Castle Crag
Castle Crag seen from above Broadslack Gill

Back to the top