Ulverston in the Lake District National Park
Ulverston is a fine market town on the Furness peninsula with old buildings and a labyrinth of cobbled streets and alleyways to explore. It was granted a market charter by Edward 1st in 1280 and continues to hold markets on Thursdays and Saturdays and bustles with activity as livestock are brought for sale and street traders set up their stalls.
It was once a boom town with extensive industry and trade and in 1795 a mile long canal was built to link Ulverston to the sea. It was extensively used and survived a working life of 50 years after which it was made redundant by the coming of the railway. Ulverston went into decline when the iron ore industry moved to Barrow. Today the canal tow path provides a pleasant walk down to the sea.
The oldest building in Ulverston is the Church of St Mary, which dates in part from the 12th century. It was heavily restored in the 1860's and a chancel was added in 1904. It contains some magnificent stained glass, including a window based on a desidn by the painter Joshua Reynolds. Ulverston's most famous landmark is the Hoad Hill Monument, a copy of the Eddystone lighthouse, and built in memory of John Barrow, founder member of the Royal Geographic Society.
Stan Laurel was born here in 1890, and the Laurel and Hardy museum contains a wealth of memorabilia and a small cinema showing classic Laurel and Hardy films. Ulverstons Heritage centre is housed in a former 18th century spice warehouse and at the Lakes Glass centre you can watch the skilled craftsmen at work as well as browse through the factory shop.
On the outskirts of the town is Swarthmoor, a small collection of whitewashed cottages and a hall, famous for its close ties with the Quaker movement. Margaret Fell lived here. She married George Fox, founder of the Quaker movement, after the death of the first husband.
Conishead Priory is a short distance from the town. Nothing remains of the original abbey, the present building dating from 1823. It is owned and run by a community of Buddhist monks, but the house and extensive gardens are open to the public.