Lake District Towns and Villages
Kendal in the Lake District National Park
Kendal is the largest of the southern Cumbrian towns. Known as the 'auld grey town' because of its many fine buildings in grey limestone, was once the most important woollen textile centres of Northern England. The woolen industry was founded in the 14th century and florished until the industrial revolution when it had to compete with the huge mills from west ridding. Present day industries include, K shoes and Kendal mint cake. The old market Place has been redeveloped with the market hall now the Westmoreland shopping centre.
Kendal still has busy market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The long main street, called Strickland and then Highgate has numerous historic yards, many of which now contain shops and other businesses. At the bottom of highgate is the Parish Church of Holy Trinity, built in the 13th century, restored in the 19th and notable for it's many chapels, including that of the Parr family who owned the now ruined Kendal Castle on a hillock to the east across the river.
Near the church is Abbot Hall an elegant Georgian House, now a museum and art gallery which has an ever changing display of works by painters who were inspired by the lake district, ruskin, turner, constable as well as local artists. The museum of Lakeland life and Industry, also at abbot hall, has reconstructed shops, rooms and farming display , bringing the recent centuries to life. The study of Arthur Ransome, author of swallows and amazons and many other children's books has been realistically recreated. The building is open daily.
Kendal's museum of Natural History and Archeology, as well as containing exhibitions of wildlife and displays relating to the regions history, contains the small office used by alfred wainwright who was honorary clerk at the museum between 1945 and 1974.
The Brewer Arts Centre in Highgate is set in a restored brewery and is the hub of Kendal's cultural life, with a varied repetoire of events throughout the year, including films, theatre, concers, workshops as well as regular arts and photograpic exhibitions.
There are many other interesting attractions in the locality, including Sizergh Castle, built in 1360 as a stronhold against the Scottish raiders and home of the Strickland family since that date, and Levens Hall, a large Elizabethan mansion containg an impressive collection of paintings and furniture. Both are open from April to mid October.