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Kendal, once Kirkby in Kendal or Kirkby Kendal, is a market town and civil parish in the South Lakeland District of Cumbria, England. Historically in Westmorland, it lies 8 miles (13 km) south-east of Windermere, 19 miles (31 km) north of Lancaster, 23 miles (37 km) north-east of Barrow-in-Furness and 38 miles (61 km) north-west of Skipton, in the dale of the River Kent, from which comes its name. The 2011 census found a population of 28,586.[2] making it the third largest town in Cumbria after Carlisle and Barrow-in-Furness. It is known today mainly as a centre for tourism, as the home of Kendal mint cake, and as a producer of pipe tobacco and snuff. Its local grey limestone buildings have earned it the nickname "Auld Grey Town".

  • Auld Grey Town
Kendal roofscape.jpg
View over the rooftops of Kendal
Kendal is located in Cumbria
Location within Cumbria
Population28,586 (2011)
OS grid referenceSD5192
• London223 miles (358.9 km) SSE
Civil parish
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townKENDAL
Postcode districtLA8, LA9
Dialling code01539
AmbulanceNorth West
EU ParliamentNorth West England
UK Parliament
List of places
54°19′34″N 2°44′42″W / 54.326°N 2.745°W / 54.326; -2.745Coordinates: 54°19′34″N 2°44′42″W / 54.326°N 2.745°W / 54.326; -2.745


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 Kirkbie Kendal, meaning "village with a church in the valley of the River Kent".[3][4]


A chartered market town, the centre of Kendal is structured around a high street with fortified alleyways, known locally as yards, off to either side, which allowed the local population to seek shelter from the Anglo-Scottish raiders known as the 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, meaning "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 who were instrumental in the English victory over the French at the Battle of Agincourt. Kendal Green was also worn by slaves in the Americas and is mentioned in songs and literature from that time. It is noted by Shakespeare 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 ruined castles. The earliest castle 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. It was the castle of the Barony of Kendal, the part of Westmoreland ruled from here. The castle is best known as the home of the Parr family, who represent one of the lines of heirs of these barons. The Parrs inherited the castle 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 based on the evidence available this is unlikely: by the time Catherine was born, the castle was beyond repair and her father was already based in Blackfriars, London, at the court of King Henry VIII.[5]

The site of the Roman fort at Watercrook across the River Kent

Roman fortEdit

A Roman fort existed about 2 miles south of the present-day town centre, at a site known as Watercrook.[6] It was built in about AD 90, originally as a timber structure, and then rebuilt with stone in about 130, during the reign of Hadrian. The fort was abandoned for about 20 years during the Antonine re-occupation of Scotland. It was then rebuilt during the reign of Marcus Aurelius and occupied until about 270. That was probably the last time it served military purposes.[7] What remains of the stone structure is now buried under a field. Many of the 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."[8] Riding horseback was the fastest form of travelling for the road was "no better than the roughest fell tracks on high ground and spongy, miry tracks in the vallies."

It became evident that it was unjust and beyond the power of the thinly scattered rural population thereabouts to be called upon 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 was to make the roads good and sufficient for the passage of coaches, carts and carriages. In 1753 The Keighley and Kendal Turnpike brought the stage coach from Yorkshire to Kendal.[9]

Kendal Mint CakeEdit

Kendal mint cake with chocolate coating

Kendal is known for Kendal mint cake, a glucose-based type of confectionery reputedly discovered accidentally by Joseph Wiper during his 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 to supply Ernest Shackleton's 1914–1917 Trans-Antarctic Expedition.

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

Tobacco and snuffEdit

Snuff production in Kendal dates from 1792, when Kendalian Thomas Harrison returned from Glasgow, Scotland, where he had learned the art of snuff manufacture. He also brought with him 50 tons of second-hand equipment, all carried on horse back. Pipe tobacco and other tobacco products were subsequently added to the firm's production. Ownership of his firm passed eventually to his son-in-law, Samuel Gawith, whose eponymic firm Samuel Gawith & Co. continues in business to this day. Following Samuel Gawith's death in 1865, the firm passed into the hands of his two eldest sons. During this time the business was 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 the First subsequently teamed with Henry Hoggarth to form Gawith Hoggarth TT, Ltd. Both Samuel Gawith & Company and Gawith Hoggarth TT continue in business today in Kendal, producing snuffs and tobacco products still used around the world. Samuel Gawith and Company also hold the distinction of employing the oldest piece of industrial equipment still in production use in the world, a device manufactured in the 1750s.[citation needed]


Civic historyEdit

The municipal borough of Kendal was created in 1835 and until 1894 the town was also an urban sanitary district. The borough boundaries were altered in 1935 under a County Review Order to include a small part 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 of Kendal was abolished in 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972, becoming part of the South Lakeland district of Cumbria. The town was a successor parish, and so kept its own town council.

Parliamentary representationEdit

Kendal is part of the Westmorland and Lonsdale parliamentary constituency, of which Tim Farron is the current MP representing the Liberal Democrats.[10]


Kendal stands on the River Kent, surrounded by low hills. It is near the Lake District National Park formed in 1951, but not in it.[11] which was shaped to exclude the town.[citation needed] Although relatively small, its rural location makes it an important commercial centre for a wide area. It is sometimes dubbed "The Gateway to The Lakes".


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°C and 11°C respectively. The corresponding ones in January and February are 6°C and 1°C.[12][13]


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.[14] There are still a number of industries based in the town, such as Gilbert Gilkes & Gordon (manufacturers of pumps and turbines), James Cropper paper makers (based in Burneside and who make, at no profit, the paper for the Remembrance poppies for The Royal British Legion[15]), Mardix (switchgear), Lakeland and Kendal Nutricare, who have a facility making baby milk in the north of the town. Tourism is now one of the main employers, but there is also a significant IT and design sector in the town, enabled by increased broadband availability.

On 26 February 2003 Kendal was granted Fairtrade Town status.


A bridge over the old course of the Lancaster Canal, now used as a footpath

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

Kendal is about 8 miles (12 km) from the M6 motorway and bypassed on the west by the A591 road linking it to Windermere, Keswick and by the A590 leading to Barrow. It is also the terminus 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), Junction 37 (A684 road), Junction 38 (A685 road) and Junction 39 (A6). The 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 also drained and filled in to prevent leakage, and the course of the canal through Kendal has now been built on. 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.


The Queen Katherine School, on Appleby Road, is a secondary school with academy status. The school also has a sixth form.[16]

Kirkbie Kendal School, formerly Kendal Grammar School, is a secondary school Business and Enterprise College that serves the area around the town and rural countryside. It operates as a foundation school with academy status; its former pupils include the historian David Starkey[17] and the clinical psychologist Vanessa Jones.

Kendal College is a college for further and higher education, and for training for employers. It has been judged outstanding by Ofsted, has over 4,000 students, and employs over 150 staff.

There are numerous primary schools in the area, including Castle Park, Stramongate School, Heron Hill, Ghyllside, Vicarage Park, St Thomas's and Dean Gibson. In the nearby village of Natland, there is St Mark's School.


The town has a rugby union club, Kendal RUFC, that play in the 6th tier of the English rugby union system, with home games played at the 3,500 capacity Mint Bridge Stadium.

Places of interestEdit

Holy Trinity Church which includes the Parr Chapel and Prayers written by the hand of Queen Catherine Parr.
Kendal Castle

Notable peopleEdit

Local dialectEdit

The Kendal dialect, known as Kendalian, is a variant of the Cumbrian dialect spoken locally.

Search and rescueEdit

Kendal has long maintained a voluntary mountain search and rescue team based at Busher Walk. Its members have performed numerous rescues in the Kendal area, and along with other local mountain rescue teams helped at the Grayrigg derailment in February 2007.

The Kendal Mountain Rescue Team is one of ten current mountain rescue teams that joined with Lake District Mountain Rescue Search Dogs and Cumbria Ore Mines Rescue Unit to form part of the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association, an Cumbrian umbrella organisation.[20][21]

Twin townsEdit

Kendal is twinned with:[22]

Freedom of the TownEdit

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


Military UnitsEdit


See alsoEdit


  1. ^, Designworks –. "Kendal Village Council – Home – Old Market Village, Lake District – Kendal, Cumbria, UK". Kendal Town Council. Archived from the original on 13 April 2018. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Lead Dataset List". Archived from the original on 6 January 2014. Retrieved 22 October 2011.
  3. ^ Mills, A. D., Dictionary of English Place Names, Oxford University Press, 1998.
  4. ^ The Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names Based on the Collections of the English Place-Name Society, ed. by Victor Watts (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), under River KENT and KENDAL.
  5. ^ Linda Porter. Katherine, the Queen, MacMillan, 2010. p. 21.
  6. ^ Esmonde Cleary, A., R. Warner, R. Talbert, T. Elliott, S. Gillies. "Places: 89102 (Alone?/Alauna?)". Pleiades. Archived from the original on 7 October 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2013.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ David Shotter. "The Roman fort at Watercrook (Kendal)" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 23 September 2015.
  8. ^ Being a Relation of a Short Survey of 26 Counties, briefly describing the Citties and their Scytuations, and the Corporate Towns and Castles Herein. By a Captaine, a Lieuten[a]nt. and an Ancient, All three of the Military Company at Norwich. British Museum MSS. 34754, pp. 19–20.
  9. ^ Introduction To The Main Roads of Kendale Archived 7 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine British History. Accessed 30 September 2012.
  10. ^ "Tim Farron". Archived from the original on 1 June 2013.
  11. ^ "Lake District National Park area map and South extension area" (PDF). Lake District National Park Authority. 2016. p. 2. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 January 2017. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  12. ^ "marine west coast climate – climatology". Encyclopædia Britannica. Archived from the original on 3 June 2013.
  13. ^ "Kendal Climate Guide". Archived from the original on 21 February 2013.
  14. ^ "Industries of Cumbria – Footwear". 2 May 2003. Archived from the original on 14 October 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  15. ^ White, Anna (24 May 2014). "Meet the company behind our Remembrance poppies". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  16. ^ "Meet the Head". Queen Katherine School. Archived from the original on 10 March 2014. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
  17. ^ "David Starkey: Laughing all the way to the library". 8 March 2002. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  18. ^ "Kendal – Castle Howe – Visit Cumbria". Archived from the original on 15 March 2012. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  19. ^ "Kendal". The Drill Hall Project. Archived from the original on 2 September 2017. Retrieved 1 September 2017.
  20. ^
  21. ^, LDSAMRA webmaster. "LDSAMRA - Home page". Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  22. ^ "Town Twinning". Kendal Town Council. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  23. ^

External linksEdit