Businesses in Cartmel Towns and Villages of Cumbria


(See also Cartmel Priory )

Cartmel Prior Exterior by Barbara BallardThe village of Cartmel, traditionally more closely linked to Lancashire than to Cumbria, sits in the middle of the squat Furness and Cartmel peninsula that juts out into Morecambe Bay. The village bears the distinctive mark of the Priory of St Mary and St Michael and its still-standing church around which it grew. Before its establishment the village served local fishermen and cocklers.

Cartmels name may be derived from the Old Scandinavian katr and melr, meaning sandbank by rough stony ground or alternatively from the Celtic carr for rocky place and meol for lumpy headland.

The first religious use of Cartmel was established in 677, when King Egfrith of Northumbria gifted the village, along with all its Britons, to St Cuthbert. Cartmel Riverside by Barbara BallardNo trace remains of any of this early monasterys buildings. It is the priory founded in 1188 by William Marshall, Baron of Cartmel and later 2nd Earl of Pembroke that defines the village.

Although dominated by the church, the village has charms of its own. Meandering through the village, the Eau riverreally a brookis held in check by limestone embankments. A small Methodist chapel sits on the bank.

Cartmel square from the gatehouse courtesy Graeme DougalWinding streets lead into the square where16th-18th century stone and roughcast (a coarse plaster of lime, shells, and pebbles) cottages cluster. Whitewashed houses with slate roofs add to the mix. Cobbled forecourts and bowed windows speak of medieval origins. One house, its upper floor supported by pillars, hangs over the street.

Cartmel Post Office courtesy Graeme DougalAnother, a 1650 oak beamed building with its original stone fireplace intact, serves as a tearoom. To the right of the post office, a 15-foot high building with a small upper storey window once played the role of village lock-up. Stones from the priory were used in the construction of many of the homes. Homeowners also took many of the priorys bosses.

Cartmel Gatehouse rear courtesy Graeme DougalThe arch of the medieval gatehouse, built in 1330, dominates the square. At the time of the dissolution of the priory, the Gatehouse was in use as a courthouse of the manor of Holker. On July 7th, 1624, George Preston of Holker Hall (once the property of the Priory) sold the gatehouse, once called the Tower of Cartmel to the district for use as a schoolhouse. It continued in that capacity until 1790.

It was put to use as a lock-up, artists studio, craft shop, and local museum. Acquired by the National Trust in 1946, its one large room, reached by a Cartmel Gatehouse front from the square courtesy Graeme Dougalcircular staircase, is now a Heritage Centre depicting the history of the priory and the village.

In the square, a Market Cross, its top missing, marks the spot where farmers once gathered to trade their dairy products and vegetables. An old water pump and ancient fish slabs are further reminders of the past. Just to the right of the post office, a 15-foot high building with a small upper storey window served as a village lock-up.

Cartmel Village Centre courtesy Andy WallacePubs in the village centre cast shadows of the past. The 15th century Cavendish Arms, with its low beamed ceilings and planked floors. It occupies the place where the Priorys former guesthouse was located. On a plaque are the words, After the Cartmel Commons Enclosure Act of 1796, the Commissioners first meeting took place at this hotel, then known as Mrs. Hullands Cavendish Arms Inn. Other buildings and old walls on the same street are thought to be former monastic buildings.

Cartmel Race Course courtesy Graeme DougalThe smallest National Hunt racecourse in Britain is located at the opposite end of the village from the church. It is said the Cartmel monks, for Whitsun amusement, started the races that still take place today.

The legacy of a thousand years of history is everywhere present on the tranquil pathways of this rural peninsula and none more so than in Cartmel, one of south Lakelands oldest villages.

Photos by Barbara Ballard and courtesy of Andy Wallace Andy Fellwalker , Graeme Dougal

Bring your horse on holiday to Cartmel.

Fantastic riding country - numerous bridlepaths to explore zig zagging across quiet country lanes.
Bed and breakfast in a converted barn, while your horse grazes in the fields adjacent to the barn.

Cartmel lies off the A590 5 miles (8km) south of the foot of Windermere Lake and 2 miles west of Grange-over-Sands off the B5278.

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