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Kendal facts for kids

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Kendal roofscape.jpg
View of Kendal, with the clock tower of the Town Hall (centre)
Kendal is located in Cumbria
Population 28,586 (2011)
OS grid reference SD5192
• London 223 miles (358.9 km) SSE
Civil parish
  • Kendal
  • South Lakeland
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
EU Parliament North West England
UK Parliament
  • Westmorland and Lonsdale
List of places
54°19′34″N 2°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, making it the third largest town in Cumbria after Carlisle and Barrow-in-Furness. It is renowned today mainly as a centre for shopping, for its festivals 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".


Kendal is listed in the Domesday Book as part of Yorkshire with the name Cherchebi. For many centuries it was called Kirkbie Kendal, meaning "village with a church in the valley of the River Kent". 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.

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 raiding parties known as the Border Reivers. The main industry in these times was the manufacture of woollen goods, the importance of which is reflected in the town's coat of arms and in its Latin motto "Pannus mihi panis", meaning wool (literally 'cloth') is my bread. "Kendal Green" was hard-wearing wool-based fabric specific to the local manufacturing process, and 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. Kendal Green was traditionally the colour of clothing worn by foresters and as such was mentioned by Shakespeare in Henry IV, Part 1.

The site of several (ruined) castles, the most recent one constructed in the late-12th century, Kendal Castle, has a long history as a stronghold of one kind or another. It was the castle of the Barony of Kendal, the part of Westmorland ruled from here. The castle is best known for being the home of the Parr family, who represent one of the lines of heirs of these barons. The Parrs inherited the castle through marriage during 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 very unlikely. By the time Catherine was born the castle was beyond repair and her father was already based in Blackfriars, London, as a member of the court of King Henry VIII.

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

Roman fort

A Roman fort existed about 2 miles south of the present day town centre, at a site known as Watercrook. 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 roughly 270. That was probably the last time it was held for military purposes. What remains of the stone structure is now buried under a field. Many of the Roman artefacts from this site may be found in the Kendal museum.


Early travellers to Kendal complained of eight miles of "nothing but a confused mixture of Rockes and Boggs." 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 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.

Kendal Mint Cake

Kendal mint cake modified
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 1914–17 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 snuff

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.


Kendal stands on the River Kent, surrounded by low hills. It is near (but not in) the Lake District National Park. When the National Park was formed in 1951 the boundary was deliberately shaped to exclude Kendal. Although a relatively small town, it is an important commercial centre for a wide area thanks to its rural location. It is affectionately referred to as "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 19C and 11C respectively. The corresponding averages in January and February are 6C and 1C.


Kendal railway station's old buildings, Windermere branch, Cumbria
Kendal railway station
Turning bridge Kendal
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.

Places of interest

Holy Trinity Church, Kendal (6947)
Holy Trinity Church which includes the Parr Chapel and Prayers written by the hand of Queen Catherine Parr.
Kendal Castle at sunset
Kendal Castle
  • Kendal Museum – one of the oldest in the country, it includes exhibits on area history, culture, archaeology, geology, local and world natural history, Roman Britain, Ancient Egypt
  • Abbot Hall Art Gallery (housed in a Georgian villa), it mounts nationally important exhibitions, such as David Bomberg: Spirit in the Mass (17 July – 28 October 2006). Permanent collection includes George Romney, JMW Turner, John Ruskin, Ben Nicholson, Paula Rego, Lucian Freud, Stanley Spencer and Barbara Hepworth.
  • Museum of Lakeland Life located in the original stables of Abbot Hall, it contains exhibits on farming life in the Lake District and a permanent collection of author Arthur Ransome's books and belongings.
  • Castle Howe, Kendal's undisputed first castle, lies on the hill side overlooking the town. The earthwork remains are sandwiched between Gillinggate and Beast Banks
  • Kendal Castle, to the east of the earthworks, probably built while Castle Howe was still being used
  • Friends' Meeting House, home of the Quaker Tapestry
  • The Brewery Arts Centre (offering theatre, dance, exhibitions, cinemas, music, workshops, youth drama, dance and food and drink)
  • Kendal Leisure Centre
  • Kendal Parish Church (Holy Trinity)
  • Lakeland Radio Stadium official football ground of Kendal Town F.C.
  • Netherfield Cricket Club Ground – home ground of Netherfield Cricket Club and Cumberland County Cricket Club

Kendal dialect

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

Kendal Mountain Search and Rescue Team

Kendal has for many years maintained a voluntary mountain search and rescue team based at Busher Walk. They have performed numerous rescues around the Kendal area, and along with other local mountain rescue teams, helped at the Grayrigg derailment.

Twin towns

Kendal is twinned with:


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. 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), 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 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.


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

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.

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

Notable people

  • Dave Allen (born 1955), bass player for post-punk band Gang of Four
  • Desmond Bagley (1923–1983), thriller writer
  • Matt Bigland (born 1985), guitarist and lead singer for alternative rock band Dinosaur Pile-Up
  • Jonathan Dodgson Carr (died 1884), founder of Carr's bread makers and social reform campaigner
  • Ephraim Chambers (c. 1680–1740), encyclopedian
  • Isaac Crewdson (1780–1844), Quaker minister born in Kendal
  • John Cunliffe (1933–2018), children's author, creator of Postman Pat
  • John Dalton (1766–1844), chemist and physicist
  • Sir Arthur Eddington (1882–1944), astrophysicist
  • James Ellison (born 1980) and Dean Ellison (born 1977), motorcycle racers
  • Tim Farron (born 1970), current MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale and former leader of the Liberal Democrats
  • Nicholas Freeston (1907–1978), award-winning Lancashire poet, born in Kendal
  • Daniel Gardner (1750–1805), portrait painter
  • Steven Hall, Britain's Got Talent Finalist 2011 as a comedy dancer
  • Steve Hogarth (born 1959), vocalist of the rock band Marillion
  • Francis Nigel Lee (1934–2011), theologian
  • Isabella Lickbarrow (1784–1847), poet
  • Ken Major (1928–2009), architect, author and molinologist, attended Kendal School
  • Caroline Moir (living), author
  • James Rogers (born 1958) first-class cricketer
  • George Romney (1734–1802), portrait painter
  • David R. Russell (1935–2018), antique woodworking tool collector
  • Philip Snow (1907–1985), first-class cricketer
  • Keith Stainton (1921–2001), politician and Second World War hero in France
  • David Starkey (born 1945), constitutional historian
  • Alfred Wainwright (1907–1991), guidebook author and walker
  • Mary Augusta Wakefield (1853–1910) composer and festival organizer
  • William Wakefield (1870–1922), cricketer
  • Wild Beasts, indie-rock band
  • Keith Wilkinson (living), ITV television news reporter
  • John Wilson (1741–1793), mathematician and astronomer
  • Mark Wilson (born 1989), Newcastle Falcons and England Rugby Union player

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Kendal para niños

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