The weather forecast for last Saturday was that it was going to be a bright, sunny, but cold, Winter’s day. In the event, it proved to be accurate (which isn’t always the case). After a heavy week we felt that it would be good to get out for the day, so we decided to head up to Kendal, which is about an hour’s drive up the M6. There were some new exhibitions showing at the Abbot Hall Gallery that we wanted to see and Kendal is a good place to take a short walk as well.
We parked up near the gallery and headed across the river over towards the medieval castle which stands on a hill overlooking the town. A short steep climb took us to the top of the hill. It wasn’t too muddy underfoot, but, in any case, we were wearing appropriate footwear.
The Castle was built in the early 12th Century on a glacial hill left behind from the last ice age, to the east of the town. It was more of a fortified manor house for the local barons, than a military stronghold, but it would have dominated the town, looking over it from it’s prominent high position. And it would have been a potent symbol of their wealth and power.
There’s a good view from the top of the hill over the town and across to nearby hills. Some of the Lakeland fells were clearly visible in the distance on a bright, clear day.
The most well known family to be barons of Kendal were the Parr’s, whose most famous member was Katherine Parr, the sixth and last Queen of Henry VIII. Although some locals claim that Katherine was born in the castle this seems unlikely as it was no longer the family’s main residence at the time she was born.
It was abandoned, fell into disrepair and became a ruin during the Tudor period. It would have subsequently been used as a quarry by local people and, no doubt, many of the buildings in and around Kendal will contain stones originating from the castle.
Today, most of the Castle walls remain along with one of the towers, and a substantial part of the manor hall
The castle was acquired for the town in 1896 to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria and is currently in the care of English Heritage. Effectively a public park, it’s a popular spot for locals and visitors for a stroll and to take in the good views on a good day.