BORROWDALE, a chapelry, in the parish of Crosthwaite, union of Cockermouth, Allerdale ward above Derwent, W. division of Cumberland, 6 miles (S. by W.) from Keswick; containing 369 inhabitants. The romantic scenery of this district has elicited deserved eulogy from numerous tourists. The Bowder stone, situated in the vale, is esteemed the largest detached piece of rock, entitled to the denomination of a single stone, in England; it is 62 feet in length, and 84 in circumference, and contains about 23,090 feet of solid stone, weighing upwards of 1,771 tons: the upper part projects considerably over the small base on which it rests, and it is not unusual for parties of pleasure to regale under it. The celebrated black-lead, or wad, mine of Borrowdale, is about nine miles from Keswick, near the head of the valley, in the steep side of a mountain facing the south-east. The lead is found in lumps or nodules, varying in weight from 1oz. to 50lb., imbedded in the matrix; and the finer sort is packed in barrels, sent to London, and deposited in the warehouse belonging to the proprietors of the mine, where it is exposed for sale to the pencil-makers on the first Monday in every month: that of an inferior description is chiefly used in the composition of crucibles, in giving a black polish to articles of cast-iron, and in various anti-attrition compositions. Black-lead is found in various parts of the world, but in none to so great an extent, and of the same degree of purity, as here: an inferior kind has been discovered in the shires of Ayr and Inverness, in Scotland, but it is unfit for pencils. Here are also several quarries of blue slate: a copper-mine was formerly worked; and lead-ore exists to a limited extent in the mountain. A soft paleish substance, commonly called Borrowdale soap, is found, which, having undergone a chymical process, similar to that by which the black-lead is hardened, is used for slate pencils. A fair for sheep is held on the first Wednesday in September. The living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £80; patron, the Vicar of Crosthwaite. The chapel was rebuilt a few years since. On the summit of Castle Crag, a conical hill covered with wood, are vestiges of a military work. Near a lake at the lower extremity of the dale is a salt-spring, the water of which is of a quality somewhat similar to that of Cheltenham.
Extract from: A Topographical Dictionary of England comprising the several counties, cities, boroughs, corporate and market towns, parishes, and townships..... 7th Edition, by Samuel Lewis, London, 1848.
Afternote: following the Poor Law Amendment Act 1866, the township became Borrowdale Civil Parish.