The triangular market place was the centre of the Medieval town of Wigton, which received its market charter in 1262. On the site where the memorial fountain now is, stood a wooden Market Cross. Many of the buildings around the market place are of Georgian style, and the upper storeys have altered little.
In the market place is an elaborate 19th Century fountain erected in 1872 by George Moore of Whitehall in Mealsgate, in memory of his wife. It is built of granite, and features four fine bronze reliefs of the Acts of Mercy by the Pre-Raphaelite sculptor Thomas Woolner. On the north side (opposite the Kings Arms) is ‘Visiting the Afflicted’, the east illustrates ‘Clothing the Naked’, the south has ‘Instructing the Ignorant’, and the west side has ‘Feeding the Hungry’. Above each bronze is a small granite carving of the face of Mrs Moore, surrounded by leaves.
The original Parish Church, incorporated a Pele Tower like Burgh-by-Sands and Newton Arlosh. The Church was in a dilapidated condition, and was demolished to make way for the present Parish Church – St Mary’s which dates from 1788, and is based on the design of St Michael’s Church, Workington.
Wigton Civic Trust have published a booket – ‘A Walk around Wigton – three urban trails’, researched by the pupils of Nelson Thomlinson School. Melvyn Bragg’s ‘Speak For England’ is an oral history of the present century, based on interviews with the people of Wigton.
The Catholic church on King Street, dedicated to St. Cuthbert, is a neat Gothic edifice, designed by Ignatius Bonomi in 1837. Its front is exceedingly handsome, and the interior is well finished, especially the ceiling and organ gallery.
The writer and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg was born in Wigton in 1939. Also born in Wigton were Ewan Clarke, the Cumberland poet; R. Smirke, R.A. (father of architects Sir Robert Smirke and Sydney Smirke), the historical painter; George Barnes, the mathematician; Joseph Rooke, the self-taught weaver; and John Rooke, the writer on political economy and geology.
Highmoor Mansion was built in 1885 by Edwin and Henry Banks. There was a tower built to house a clock, carillon and “Big Joe”, a large bell. The carillon played a different tune every day and a hymn on Sundays. Highmoor Mansion, the Banks’ family home, is now flats.
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