Shap in 1843
Shap (anciently Hep or Heppe) is in the West ward, 279 miles from the General Post-office, London. By railway to Lancaster; and 16 miles north by west of Kendal. There was anciently in this parish a Premonstratensian abbey, founded originally at Preston in Kendal (now Preston Patrick, a township in the parish of Burton in Kendal) by Thomas, son of Gospatric or Cospatric, not in the reign of Henry I, as stated by Nicolson and Burn, but in the reign of Henry II, as stated by Tanner and Dugdale. This abbey was removed in the lifetime of its founder to the secluded valley of Wet Sleddale, in the parish of Shap, watered by one of the streams that form the Lowther. The yearly revenues of the abbey at the dissolution were £166, 10 shillings and 6½ pence gross, or, £154, 17 shillings and 7½ pence clear. Some picturesque ruins of this abbey still remain on the west bank of the stream. The conventual church has been very spacious, and was built of a very durable freestone. The tower and some fragments of the chancel remain, and the foundations of the cloisters and the offices, many of them vaulted underneath, may still be seen.
The parish, including part of the chapelry of Mardale, has an area of 27,770 acres. There were, in 1831, 198 houses, namely, 190 inhabited and 8 uninhabited, with a population of 203 families, or 1,084 persons : of these, 8 houses (6 inhabited and 2 uninhabited), 6 families, and 23 persons were in the chapelry of Mardale ; but we have no means of ascertaining what proportion of the remainder belonged to the town and its immediate neighbourhood : two-thirds of the whole population were agricultural. The town consists of one long street, extending along the mail-road from Lancaster by Kendal to Carlisle and Glasgow. The church is on the east side of the town, and retains some ancient parts amid many alterations. There is a chapel in Swindale, in the parish. The market, which is small, is held on Monday; and there is one yearly fair for cattle and pedlery : there are some limestone and slate quarries.
The living is a vicarage, of the clear yearly value of £73, with a glebe-house ; the vicar presents to the perpetual curacies of Mardale and Swindale chapels, the clear yearly value of which is £76 and £56 respectively.
There were in the whole parish in 1833, two day-schools, with 59 scholars, namely 13 boys, 7 girls, and 39 children of sex not stated in the returns ; giving only 1 in 18 of the population under daily instruction. There were no Sunday-schools.