|Businesses in Kentmere||Towns and Villages of Cumbria|
(See also Kentmere Studio Pottery)
The village of Kentmere sounds like it should be beside a lake, and it once was. The river Kent drained into a depression in the area creating a shallow lake, but this was drained in 1840 to provide pasture. When the lake was drained the remains of what are thought to be Viking boats were discovered.
A millpond on the river remained to provide power for mills along the river. A reservoir was created eight years later to provide water during dry weather to the riverside mills of Staveley, Burneside and Kendal. Rich deposits of diatomaceous earth, used for insulation material, were discovered when the lake was drained. A works site was built to process the product but closed down when supplies ran out.
Sitting on a hill, the church of St Cuthbert retains its 16th century roof beams. Like many churches it fell prey to the Victorian fervor for alterations of historic buildings and in 1866 was mostly rebuilt. In the 1950's further renovations were completed. The exterior, originally built of rough cobblestone, is now plain concrete. A western tower holds one bell. A yew tree more than 500 years old flourishes in the churchyard.
Kentmere was infamous in the late 1800's for overindulgence by patrons of the local pub, who then moved from the pub to the village streets to carry on. The vicar and the churchwardens were successful in getting the pub permanently closed.
A bronze memorial commemorates former villager Bernard Gilpin, who rose to be Archdeacon of Durham Cathedral. He was a leader in the Reformation and was dubbed ‘The Apostle of the North’. The village was the model for the settings in the Postman Pat series of children's books by author John Cunliffe.
The oldest building in Kentmere is Kentmere Hall, now a private farm. At first it was only a 14th century tunnel-vaulted pele tower with five-foot thick walls. 23 x 31 feet in size, its turrets, parapets, an original window, spiral staircase, and garderobe survive. The tower was added to in the 15th-16th century turning it into a farmhouse. Home to the Gilpin family from 1375, it passed into ownership of the Philipsons in 1660. Nearby is the ‘Badger Rock’, a huge stone sitting alone.
Paths from the valley lead in all directions. One heads for Troutbeck via the Garburn Pass. Another leads to the Nan Bield pass and further on to Haweswater. South lies a path to the Kentmere reservoir.
August is sheepdog trial time in the village. Traditional fell racing and sheep shows are part of the activities.
Sited at the head of Kentdale, the small, scattered hamlet is a quiet and authentic piece of Cumbria. A narrow and winding road reveals typical Lakeland woods, hills, and pastures.
Photos courtesy of Graeme Dougal
Kentmere is located on a dead end road 4 miles north of Staveley (Kendal), which is off the A591 between Windermere and Kendal.
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