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Kendal roofscape.jpg
View of Kendal, with the clock tower of the Town Hall (centre)
Location map United Kingdom South Lakeland.svg
Red pog.svg
Location in South Lakeland
Cumbria UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within Cumbria
Population28,586 (2011) [1]
OS grid reference SD5192
  London 223 miles (358.9 km) SSE
Civil parish
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town KENDAL
Postcode district LA8, LA9
Dialling code 01539
Police Cumbria
Fire Cumbria
Ambulance North West
UK Parliament
List of places
54°19′34″N2°44′42″W / 54.326°N 2.745°W / 54.326; -2.745 Coordinates: 54°19′34″N2°44′42″W / 54.326°N 2.745°W / 54.326; -2.745

Kendal, once Kirkby in Kendal or Kirkby Kendal, is a market town and civil parish in the South Lakeland district of Cumbria, England, 8 miles (13 km) south-east of Windermere and 19 miles (31 km) north of Lancaster. Historically in Westmorland, it lies within the dale of the River Kent, from which its name is derived. At the 2011 Census, the town had a population of 28,586, [1] making it the third largest town in Cumbria after Carlisle and Barrow-in-Furness. It is renowned today mainly as a centre for shopping, [3] for its festivals [4] and historic sights, including Kendal Castle, and as the home of Kendal Mint Cake. The town's grey limestone buildings have earned it the sobriquet "Auld Grey Town". [5]



Kendal takes its name from the River Kent (the etymology of whose name is uncertain but thought to be Celtic) and the Old Norse word dalr ("valley"). Kendal is listed in the Domesday Book as part of Yorkshire with the name Cherchebi (from Old Norse kirkju-bý, "church-village"). For many centuries it was called Kirkby Kendal: "village with a church in the valley of the River Kent". [6] [7]


A chartered market town, the centre of Kendal has formed round a high street with fortified alleyways, known locally as yards, off to either side, which allowed local people to shelter from the Anglo-Scottish raiders known as Border Reivers. The main industry in those times was the manufacture of woollen goods, whose importance is reflected in the town's coat of arms and in its Latin motto Pannus mihi panis (Cloth is my bread.) "Kendal Green" was a hard-wearing, wool-based fabric specific to the local manufacturing process. It was supposedly sported by the Kendalian archers instrumental in the English victory over the French at the Battle of Agincourt. Kendal Green was also worn by slaves in the Americas and appears in songs and literature from that time. Shakespeare notes it as the colour of clothing worn by foresters ( Henry IV, Part 1 ).

Kendal Castle has a long history as a stronghold, built on the site of several successive castles. The earliest was a Norman motte and bailey (now located on the west side of the town), when the settlement went under the name of Kirkbie Strickland.[ citation needed ] The most recent is from the late 12th century, as the castle of the Barony of Kendal, the part of Westmorland ruled from here. The castle is best known as the home of the Parr family, as heirs of these barons. They inherited it through marriage in the reign of Edward III of England. Rumours still circulate that King Henry VIII's sixth wife Catherine Parr was born at Kendal Castle, but the evidence available leaves this unlikely: by her time the castle was beyond repair and her father was already based in Blackfriars, London, at the court of King Henry VIII. [8]

The site of the Roman fort at Watercrook across the River Kent Watercrook Farm and the River Kent.jpg
The site of the Roman fort at Watercrook across the River Kent

Roman fort

A Roman fort stood about 2 miles south of today's town centre, at a site later known as Watercrook. [9] It was built about AD 90, originally in timber, rebuilt with stone about 130, in the reign of Hadrian. The fort was abandoned for about 20 years during the Antonine re-occupation of Scotland. It was rebuilt in the reign of Marcus Aurelius and occupied until about 270 – probably the last time it served military purposes. [10] What remains of the stone structure is now buried under a field. Many Roman artefacts from the site may be found in the Kendal Museum. The Roman site was built on a pre-existing Iron Age fort.


Early travellers to Kendal complained of eight miles of "nothing but a confused mixture of Rockes and Boggs." [11] Riding horseback was the fastest form of travel, as the road was "no better than the roughest fell tracks on high ground and spongy, miry tracks in the vallies."

It became clear it was unjust and beyond the power of a thinly scattered rural population to maintain a road used for through traffic. "Whereas the road is very ruinous, and some parts thereof almost impassable and could not, by the ordinary course appointed by the Laws then in being for repairing the highways, be amended and kept in good repair, unless some further provision was made." In 1703, by Order of the Quarter Sessions of the Barony of Kendall, the surveyors of highways were to make the roads good and sufficient for the passage of coaches, carts and carriages. In 1753 the Keighley and Kendal Turnpike brought a stage coach service from Yorkshire as far as Kendal. [12]

Mint cake

Kendal mint cake Kendal Mint Cake.jpeg
Kendal mint cake

Kendal is known for Kendal mint cake, a glucose-based confectionery reputedly discovered accidentally by Joseph Wiper during a search for a clear glacier mint.

Used on numerous expeditions to mountaintops (including Mount Everest and K2) and both poles of the Earth, its popularity is mainly due to the very astute decision of the original manufacturer's great-nephew to market it as an energy food and supply it to Ernest Shackleton's 1914–1917 Trans-Antarctic Expedition.

By the time the business was sold to a competitor, Romney's, in 1987 there were several rival mint-cake producers, some still in business.

Tobacco and snuff

Snuff manufacture in Kendal dates from 1792, when Kendalian Thomas Harrison returned from learning its production in Glasgow, Scotland. He brought with him 50 tons of second-hand equipment, all carried on horseback. Pipe tobacco and other tobacco products were added later to the firm's production. Ownership of the firm passed to a son-in-law, Samuel Gawith, whose eponymic firm Samuel Gawith & Co. remains in business. After Gawith's death in 1865, the firm passed to his two eldest sons, being administered initially by trustees, including Henry Hoggarth, and John Thomas Illingworth.

Illingworth left the firm in 1867 to start his own firm, which remained in business until the 1980s. The youngest son of Samuel Gawith subsequently teamed with Henry Hoggarth to form Gawith Hoggarth TT, Ltd. Both firms continue in business in Kendal, producing snuffs and tobacco products used around the world. Samuel Gawith and Company holds the distinction of employing the oldest piece of industrial equipment still in use in the world: a device manufactured in the 1750s.[ citation needed ]

The Kendal Bank

The Maude, Wilson & Crewdsons Bank was established in "Farrers House", Stramongate in 1788. Joseph Maude, Christopher Wilson and Thomas Crewdson were the original partners. In 1792 they moved into a specially constructed premises at No 69, Highgate. The Wilson family, who lived at Abbot Hall, withdrew in 1826 at a time of the paper panic of 1825 caused by a run on the banks. Under the style of W D Crewdson & Sons, the remaining family continued until the amalgamation in 1840 with John Wakefield & Sons founded by John Wakefield. The bank was eventually bought out by Barclays. [13]


Kendal Town Hall. First stage completed in 1827, clock tower later in the 19th century Kendal Town Hall (2).jpg
Kendal Town Hall. First stage completed in 1827, clock tower later in the 19th century

Civic history

The municipal borough of Kendal was created in 1835; until 1894 it was also an urban sanitary district. The borough boundaries were altered in 1935 under a County Review Order to include a patch of South Westmorland Rural District. The civil parishes of Kirkland and Nether Graveship became in 1908 part of Kendal Civil Parish, whose boundaries thereafter were the same as the borough's. From 1888 to 1974, Kendal was the centre of the administrative county of Westmorland, although Appleby was the traditional county town.

The borough was abolished in 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, becoming part of the South Lakeland district of Cumbria. Kendal as a successor parish kept its own town council.


Kendal is part of the Westmorland and Lonsdale parliamentary constituency, of which Tim Farron is the current MP, representing the Liberal Democrats. [14]


Kendal stands on the River Kent, surrounded by low hills and near the Lake District National Park formed in 1951, but not in it. [15] which was laid out to exclude the town.[ citation needed ] Kendal's rural location makes it an important commercial centre for a wide area. It has been dubbed "The Gateway to The Lakes".[ citation needed ]


Kendal has a marine west-coast climate, category Cfb on the Köppen Climate Classification. It has moderately warm summers and mild winters with precipitation at all times of year. In July and August the average daily maximum and minimum are 19 and 11 °C (66 and 52 °F) respectively. The corresponding ones in January and February are 6 and 1 °C (43 and 34 °F). [16] [17]


Kendal's early prosperity was based largely on cloth manufacture. In the 19th century it became a centre for the manufacture of snuff and shoes – the K Shoes company remained a major employer in the town until its factory closed in 2003. [18] There are still several industries based in the town, such as Gilbert Gilkes & Gordon (manufacturers of pumps and turbines), James Cropper paper makers (based in Burneside, who make, at no profit, the paper for the Remembrance poppies for The Royal British Legion [19] ), Mardix (switchgear), Lakeland, and Kendal Nutricare, which has a facility for making baby milk in the north of the town. Tourism is now a major employer, but there is also a significant IT and design sector, enabled by increased broadband availability.

On 26 February 2003 Kendal was granted Fairtrade Town status.


Kendal railway station Kendal railway station's old buildings, Windermere branch, Cumbria.jpg
Kendal railway station
A bridge over the old course of the Lancaster Canal, now used as a footpath Turning bridge Kendal.jpg
A bridge over the old course of the Lancaster Canal, now used as a footpath

Kendal railway station lies on the Windermere Branch Line, with connections to Windermere to the north, and to Oxenholme Lake District station (on the West Coast Main Line) and Lancaster railway station to the south.

Kendal is about 13 kilometres (8 mi) from the M6 motorway. It is bypassed on the west side by the A591 road, linking it to Windermere and Keswick, and by the A590 leading to Barrow. It is also the end point of the A65 road to Kirkby Lonsdale, Skipton and Yorkshire, and a destination on the A6 road to Penrith. Kendal is signposted off the M6 at Junctions 36 (A65, A590), 37 (A684 road), 38 (A685 road) and 39 (A6). A three-mile, £1.9m A591 bypass opened on 29 August 1971.

The Lancaster Canal was built as far as Kendal in 1819, but the northern section was rendered unnavigable by the construction of the M6. Part of this section was drained and filled in to prevent leakage, and the course of the canal through Kendal has now been built over. The canal towpath, however, remains as a footpath through Kendal. A campaign is underway to restore the canal as far as Kendal.

Kendal has a daily coach service to London. Local buses from the bus station serve destinations such as Ambleside, Barrow-in-Furness and Lancaster, with long-distance National Express coaches to Preston and Birmingham. [20]


The Queen Katherine School, on Appleby Road, is a secondary school with academy status. The school also has a sixth form. [21]

Kirkbie Kendal School, formerly Kendal Grammar School, is a secondary school Business and Enterprise College serving the area. It operates as a foundation school with academy status. Its former pupils include the historian David Starkey. [22]

Kendal College provides further and higher education courses and the training for employers. [23]


Kendal Town Football Club plays in the North West Division one, with home games at Parkside Road Stadium.

Kendal RUFC plays in the 6th tier of the English rugby union system, with home games at Mint Bridge Stadium, which has a capacity of 3,500.

Places of interest

Holy Trinity Church, which includes the Parr Chapel and prayers written by the hand of Queen Catherine Parr Holy Trinity Church, Kendal (6947).jpg
Holy Trinity Church, which includes the Parr Chapel and prayers written by the hand of Queen Catherine Parr
Kendal Castle Kendal Castle at sunset.jpg
Kendal Castle

Notable people

Local dialect

Kendal speech, known as Kendalian, is an example of the Cumbrian dialect spoken in the surrounding area.

Search and rescue

Kendal has long maintained a locally active, voluntary mountain search and rescue team based at Busher Walk. Along with nearby teams, it helped at the Grayrigg derailment in February 2007. Kendal Mountain Rescue Team is one of ten current teams that joined with Lake District Mountain Rescue Search Dogs and Cumbria Ore Mines Rescue Unit to form a Cumbrian umbrella organization, the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association. [26] [27]

Twin towns

Kendal is twinned with: [28]


The following people and military units have received the Freedom of the Town of Kendal:


Military units

See also

Related Research Articles

Cumbria Ceremonial county of England

Cumbria is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in North West England, bordering Scotland. The county and Cumbria County Council, its local government, came into existence in 1974 after the passage of the Local Government Act 1972. Cumbria's county town is Carlisle, in the north of the county. The only other major urban area is Barrow-in-Furness on the south-western tip of the county.

Ambleside Human settlement in England

Ambleside is a town and former civil parish, now in the parish of Lakes, in Cumbria, in North West England. Historically in Westmorland, it marks the head of Windermere, England's largest natural lake. In the Lake District National Park, it is south of the highest road pass in the Lake District, Kirkstone Pass and both places are the meeting point of well-marked paths and mountain hiking trails. In 2020 it had an estimated population of 2596. In 1961 the parish had a population of 2562.

Westmorland Historic county of England

Westmorland is a historic county in North West England. It formed an administrative county between 1889 and 1974, after which the whole county was administered by the new administrative and ceremonial county of Cumbria. The people of Westmorland are known as Westmerians. In April 2023, it is planned that local government in Cumbria will be reorganised into two unitary authorities, one of which is to be named Westmorland and Furness and would cover all of the historic county along with parts of historic Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cumberland.

Kirkby Lonsdale Town in S Lakeland district of Cumbria, England

Kirkby Lonsdale is a town and civil parish in the South Lakeland district of Cumbria, England, on the River Lune. Historically in Westmorland, it lies 13 miles (21 km) south-east of Kendal on the A65. The parish recorded a population of 1,771 in the 2001 census, increasing to 1,843 at the 2011 Census. Notable buildings include St Mary's Church, a Norman building with fine carved columns. The view of the River Lune from the churchyard is known as Ruskin's View after John Ruskin, who called it one of the loveliest in England. It was painted by J. M. W. Turner.

Windermere, Cumbria (town) Human settlement in England

Windermere is a town and civil parish in the South Lakeland District of Cumbria, England. In the 2001 census the parish had a population of 8,245, increasing at the 2011 census to 8,359. It lies about half a mile (1 km) east of the lake, Windermere. Although the town Windermere does not touch the lake, it has now grown together with the older lakeside town of Bowness-on-Windermere, though the two retain distinguishable town centres. Tourism is popular in the town owing to its proximity to the lake and local scenery. Boats from the piers in Bowness sail around the lake, many calling at Ambleside or at Lakeside where there is a restored railway. Windermere Hotel opened at the same time as the railway.

Grange-over-Sands Human settlement in England

Grange-over-Sands is a town and civil parish located on the north side of Morecambe Bay in Cumbria, England, a few miles south of the Lake District National Park. In the 2001 census the parish had a population of 4,042, increasing at the 2011 census to 4,114. Historically part of Lancashire, the town was created as an urban district in 1894. Since the 1974 local government re-organisation, it has been of the South Lakeland district of Cumbria, though it remains part of the Duchy of Lancaster.

South Lakeland District in England

South Lakeland is a local government district in Cumbria, England. The population of the non-metropolitan district was 102,301 according to the 2001 census, increasing to 103,658 at the 2011 Census. Its council is based in Kendal. It includes much of the Lake District as well as northwestern parts of the Yorkshire Dales.

Milnthorpe Human settlement in England

Milnthorpe is a small market town on the southern border of Cumbria, 7 miles south of Kendal, civil parish and electoral ward are in the South Lakeland district of Cumbria, England. Historically in the county of Westmorland and on the A6, the town contains several old hostelries and hosts a market every Friday. The parish, which includes the small village of Ackenthwaite, had a population of 2,199 according to the 2011 Census.

Bowness-on-Windermere Human settlement in England

Bowness-on-Windermere is a town and former civil parish, now in the parish of Windermere, in South Lakeland, Cumbria, England. Due to its position on the banks of Windermere, the town has become a tourist honeypot. Although their mutual growth has caused them to become one large settlement, the town is distinct from the town of Windermere as the two still have distinguishable town centres. Historically part of Westmorland, in 2012, Bowness was one of the official stop off points for the Olympic torch before it made its way to the Olympic Games opening ceremony. In 1951 the parish had a population of 3345.

Kents Bank Human settlement in England

Kents Bank is a small village in Cumbria, England, so named for its proximity to the River Kent estuary. Part of the historic County Palatine of Lancashire, it is located 2 miles (3.2 km) south-west of Grange-over-Sands.

Westmorland and Lonsdale (UK Parliament constituency) Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom, 1983 onwards

Westmorland and Lonsdale is a constituency in the south of Cumbria, represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2005 by Tim Farron, the former leader of the Liberal Democrats (2015–2017).

Sedbergh Town in Cumbria, England

Sedbergh is a town and civil parish in Cumbria, England. The 2001 census gave the parish a population of 2,705, increasing at the 2011 census to 2,765. Historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire, it lies about 10 miles (16 km) east of Kendal, 28 miles (45 km) north of Lancaster and about 10 miles (16 km) north of Kirkby Lonsdale, just within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It stands at the foot of Howgill Fells, on the north bank of the River Rawthey, which joins the River Lune 2 miles (3 km) below the town.

Lindale, Cumbria Human settlement in England

Lindale - traditionally Lindale in Cartmel - is a village in the south of Cumbria. It lies on the north-eastern side of Morecambe Bay, England. It was part of Lancashire from 1182 to 1974. It is in the civil parish of Lindale and Newton-in-Cartmel, in South Lakeland district.

South Westmorland Rural District

South Westmorland was a rural district in Westmorland, England from 1894 to 1974. It saw various boundary changes during its existence, particularly in 1935, when it absorbed Kirkby Lonsdale urban district, whilst parts merged with Ambleside and Grasmere Urban Districts to form Lakes Urban District at the same time. The district was abolished in 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, with the area becoming part of the South Lakeland district of Cumbria.

Barony of Kendal Subdivision of the English historic county of Westmorland

The Barony of Kendal is a subdivision of the English historic county of Westmorland. It is one of two ancient baronies that make up the county, the other being the Barony of Westmorland. In 1974, the entire county became part of the modern county of Cumbria and ceased to have an administrative function. At the same time, Kendal borough along with some other rural and urban districts in Westmorland was merged with the neighbouring parts of Lancashire, Furness and Cartmel, and also the Sedbergh Rural District of the West Riding of Yorkshire into the new South Lakeland district of the new county.

Docker, Cumbria Human settlement in England

Docker is a civil parish in the South Lakeland district of the English county of Cumbria. Docker is 4.3 miles north east of the market town of Kendal. At the 2011 census Docker was grouped with Lambrigg giving a total population of 260.

Flookburgh Human settlement in England

Flookburgh is an ancient village on the Cartmel peninsula in Cumbria, England, until 1974 part of Lancashire. Being close to Morecambe Bay, cockle and shrimp fishing plays a big part in village life.

Burneside Human settlement in England

Burneside is a small village in South Lakeland in Cumbria, England. It is located to the north of Kendal and to the south east of Staveley, on the River Kent, just upstream from the confluence of the River Sprint. It has about 3,000 inhabitants. By the time of the 2011 Census Burneside had been transformed into an electoral ward only. The population of this ward was 1,888. The majority of the population are now recorded as living in Strickland Ketel parish.

Kentrigg Human settlement in England

Kentrigg is a northern suburb of Kendal, Cumbria, England. By road, Kentrigg is located 1.2 miles (1.9 km) north of the centre of Kendal and 1.4 miles (2.3 km) southeast of Burneside. It contains the Carus Green Golf Club, which separates it from Burneside just to the northwest. Across the River Kent to the east is the Shap Road Industrial Estate, north of the district of Mintsfeet and the Mintsfeet Industrial Estate which marks the southeastern side of Kentrigg.


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