Kendal Castle

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After our visit to Abbot Hall to see the Julian Cooper exhibition we had a wander round the town centre and then, as it had turned into a pleasant afternoon, we decided to walk up to Kendal Castle. 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.

Crossing the River Kent near to Abbot Hall, it’s a short walk to Castle Hill.

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It’s then a short, if steep, climb up to the castle.

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I didn’t have my camera with me, but the good light meant I was able to get some decent shots using my phone.

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Visibility was good so there were great views over to Red Screes and the Kentmere fells.

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We could clearly see Yoke and Ill Bell that we’d climber only a few weeks before.

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We had a quick look round the interior of the ruined castle

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A sunny day in Kendal

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It was a very pleasant sunny day last Saturday, so, after we’d had a look at the exhibition at Abbot Hall,  we had some dinner in a little vegetarian cafe we like that’s just along the river towards the town centre and had some dinner. After that we walked over the river and up the hill to the castle. Not a long walk but a short steep climb and good views at the top. Here’s some of the photographs I took

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Kendal Castle

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Today, most of the Castle walls remain along with one of the towers, and a substantial part of the manor hall

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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.

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Christmassy Kendal

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On Friday we went over to the Abbot Hall Gallery in Kendal to have a second look at the exhibition of works by Hughie O’Donoghue – our last chance before it closed on Saturday. I’ve written up a report of our first visit here.

Although it wasn’t sunny the weather was reasonably good and dry, a good change from the heavy rain we’d had over the previous few days. It was a brief respite, however, as the rain returned with a vengeance on Saturday and it seems set to continue until Christmas day.

After looking round the gallery and the small, but interesting,  Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry, we had a walk into the town centre. We hadn’t explored the town during our previous visits this year and to be honest we were a little surprised. It has quite a good shopping centre and there are some interesting old buildings.

Abbot Hall is quite an impressive, large Georgian house, situated on the banks of the River Kent.

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The Museum building looks like it was probably originally the stables and outbuildings for the hall

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There’s a pleasant river walk from the hall into the town. After all the rain the river was pretty full and fast flowing.

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On the opposite bank from Abbot Hall there’s a row of old alms houses. Along with the adjacent chapel, which has now been converted into housing, they were built in 1887 in commemoration of Queen Victoria’s jubilee.

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At the back of the alms houses, the ruins of Kendal castle, up on it’s hill, can just be made out

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There was a better view from further up the river towards the town centre.

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Kendal is the third largest town in Cumbria and has a busy shopping centre, no doubt serving all the farms and small communities in South Cumbria and parts of the Yorkshire Dales.

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The shopping streets and centre were all busy with local people doing their Christmas shopping. There was a farmer’s market taking place and we were tempted into buying some cheese, venison, smoked Cumberland sausage and smoked chicken.

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There were a number of interesting old streets and buildings. This is a view down Stramongate, just off the Market Place.

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I guess this building dates from 1657 – the sign gives it away!

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This is one of the oldest buildings in the town. It’s the former gatehouse of Sandes Hospital, which was founded by Thomas Sandes a wealthy cloth merchant and former Mayor of Kendal. It was originally a Bluecoat school (a charity school for orphans) and alms houses for poor widows. The gatehouse used to be the master’s house.

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A particular feature of Kendal are the “yards” – narrow lanes branching off the main street. At one time there wre about 150 ‘yards’ in the town. They were often named after the owner of the main house which usually stood at the top of the yard. “Dr Manning’s Yard” is a good example .

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The town have continued the tradition by establishing a new “yard” named in honour of the legendary Alfred Wainwright

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Time was limited, so we weren’t able to properly explore the town, particularly the “yards”, or visit the castle. They’ll be on the agenda for a future visit as we will definitely going back up to Kendal to visit next year’s exhibitions at Abbot Hall.

 

 

 

There’s an interesting site about Kendal’s “yards” here.