It’s a small town, with the River Kent running through the middle, and has a population of about 28,000. It boasts a good selection of shops, restaurants and pubs, and a large Arts Centre (offering cinema, theatre, concerts and exhibitions). It also has the remains of two castles, dating from the 11th and 12th centuries, as well as Cumbria’s largest parish church, Holy Trinity, which is mainly from the 18th century, although the original church was built in the 13th century. The present church, with its five aisles, is only a few feet narrower than York Minster.
In the past, Kendal was an important centre of trade, particularly for wool. The town’s motto Pannus mihi panis meaning ‘Wool is my bread’ indicates this link to the wool trade. There was also a large shoe factory here until ‘K Shoes’ ceased to trade about ten years ago. Kendal’s most famous export today is ‘Kendal Mint Cake’ – the high energy bars used, not just by Lake District walkers and climbers, but even by Everest explorers.
Most of the house are built of local stone and some are whitewashed. There used to be about 150 ‘yards’ in Kendal, often named after the owner of the most important house at the top of the yard. The yards used to run down towards the river where there were weaving and dyeing workshops.