Best Places to Visit in Kendal, Cumbria, UK
The town of Kendal in Cumbria in the UK is probably most famous for Kendal mint cake, a sugary, peppermint confectionary often bought by tourists as a memento of visits to the town and eaten by mountaineers who use the sugary bars as a source of emergency energy.
The town is also often described as the “Gateway to the Lakes” and is indeed a great location to base yourself for daytrips up into the beautiful scenery of the English Lake District – but Kendal also makes a great tourist destination in itself, with numerous historic buildings, sites, and other places to experience.
I was born and raised in Kendal and still visit the ‘Auld Grey Town’ regularly, so I know it very well. I have picked a selection of my own personal favourite sights out of the many things that there are to see and do in Kendal.
I hope that you enjoy reading my top 5 list of the best places to visit in Kendal, Cumbria, UK and enjoy your stay there.
Kendal Castle was built in the 12th Century and is associated with the Parr family, who’s most famous member was Catherine Parr, Henry VIII’s the sixth wife.
The castle was deserted during the Tudor period, however, and allowed to fall into ruin. It was partially restored in the late 20th Century and much of its stonework still has an imposing quality.
There are also information boards telling you about the layout of the building and how the inhabitants would have lived. It is a fascinating place to explore and there is no charge to visit.
Castle Howe features the earthwork remains of Kendal’s first castle, built by the Normans who began their invasion of England in 1066 and subdues Kendal in 1092. The castle is an example of a motte and bailey castle and you can clearly see the motte, as well as the ditches and embankments that surround it.
In the 17th Century a huge obelisk, designed by local architect, Francis Webster, was built on top of the summit of Castle Howe to celebrate the revolution of 1688.
The town is listed in the Domesday Book under the name Cherchebi.
The town's coat of arms reflects its historic dependence on the wool trade. The Latin motto "Pannus mihi panis", translates as: "wool is my bread".
The town's famous confectionery, Kendal Mint Cake was accidentally discovered by Joseph Wiper when trying to make clear glacier mints.
The town has been producing the tobacco product, snuff since 1792 when Thomas Harrison first set up production.
Abbot Hall Art Gallery
Sited in the historic Abbot Hall, a Georgian villa built in 1759, this gallery and museum holds exhibitions of national importance.
Its collections include work by local artists: George Romney, Philippe Jacques de Loutherbourg, and Daniel Gardner.
There are also collections by great watercolourists such as Edward Lear, John Sell Cotman, J R Cozens, John Varley, David Cox, and Peter De Wint.
Drawings and watercolours by the Victorian art critic, John Ruskin can also be found at the gallery, as well as a display dedicated to the writer, Arthur Ransome.
Kendal Parish Church
Kendal Parish Church is an ancient church with a central aisle that dates back 800 years.
It is built on the site of an old Saxon church that was there before it.
The inside of the church is large and light and there are many fascinating historical sights to see inside (you should make a donation and pick up an information guide on the way in).
The church belongs to the Church of England and is a listed building.
Kendal Museum was established in 1796 and is one of the oldest in the country.
Its exhibits cover the area’s rich and diverse local history, as well as its geology and natural history. There are also many artifacts from other places in the world.
There are exhibits from Roman Britain and Ancient Egypt.
The museum also has a large collection of stuffed animals, including a polar bear and a model of a dodo.
The museum is managed by Kendal College on behalf of South Lakeland District Council.
Admission is free. The museum is located on Station Road, near the train station.
Quaker Tapestry at The Friends Meeting House
The idea behind the Quaker Tapestry was conceived by Quaker Anne Wynn-Wilson. The tapestry was made by 4,000 men, women and children from 15 countries between 1981 and 1989.
The tapestry is made up of 77 panels, each measuring 25 inches wide by 21 inches tall, and illustrates the history of Quakerism from the 17th century to the present day.
Having been toured in traveling exhibitions, including a North American tour in the mid-nineties, the tapestry is now permanently housed at the Friends Meeting House in Kendal.
Famous People From Kendal
David Starkey - Historian
Alfred Wainwright - Guidebook writer and walker
Desmond Bagley - Author of thrillers
Steve Hogarth - Lead singer with rock band Marillion
George Romney - Portrait painter
John Cunliffe - Children's author, creator of Postman Pat
Matt Bigland - Vocalist and guitarist with alternative rock band Dinosaur Pile-Up
Keith Wilkinson - ITV television news reporter
Nicholas Freeston (1907-1978) - Kendal-born poet
© 2013 Paul Goodman