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Kendal in 1843

Kendal, more accurately Kirkby Kendal, or Kirkby in Kendal, i.e. the kirk or church town in the dale or valley of the Ken or Kent, is in Kendal ward, 263 miles from the General Post-Office, London, viz. 241 miles by railway to Lancaster, and thence by coach 22 miles. It was made a market-town by licence from Richard I, and became, by the settlement of the Flemings, in the reign of Edward III, the seat of a considerable manufacture of woollen cloths (which took from the town the name of Kendals), and continued to be so down to quite modern times : indeed the woollen manufacture is not quite extinct even now. The town was incorporated in 1576 by Queen Elizabeth. Before the turnpike-road was made in 1752, nearly two hundred pack horses were employed weekly, some of them making two journeys in the week, in bringing provisions and merchandise to the town, or in taking away its manufactures ; besides two waggons twice a week from Lancaster, carrying in all about sixty horse-loads, and two or three carts making several journeys, and carrying altogether about forty horse-loads weekly between Kendal and Millthorpe. The parish of Kendal, which extends into Lonsdale ward, has an area of 68,360 acres, and is divided into twenty-seven townships or chapelries, each separately maintaining its own poor ; the population of the whole parish in 1831 was 17,564. The parliamentary borough, which comprehends the two townships of Kirkby Kendal and Kirkland, and such parts of the township of Nether Graveship as are adjacent to the township of Kendal. The statistics of the three townships in 1831 were as follows :-

1. Inhabited Houses in 1831
Kirkby in Kendal : 2,092
Kirkland : 289
Nether Graveship : 63

2. Uninhabited Houses
Kirkby in Kendal : 15
Kirkland : 49
Nether Graveship : 3

3. Houses being built
Kirkby in Kendal : 3
Kirkland : 0
Nether Graveship : 0

4. Total number of houses
Kirkby in Kendal : 2,110
Kirkland : 338
Nether Graveship : 66

5. Number of families employed in agriculture
Kirkby in Kendal : 67
Kirkland : 2
Nether Graveship : 6

6. Number of families employed in Trade
Kirkby in Kendal : 1,538
Kirkland : 230
Nether Graveship : 33

7. Number of families employed in other categories
Kirkby in Kendal : 546
Kirkland : 70
Nether Graveship : 24

8. Total number of families
Kirkby in Kendal : 2,151
Kirkland : 302
Nether Graveship : 63

9. Total number of persons
Kirkby in Kendal : 10,015
Kirkland : 1,250
Nether Graveship : 312

This statement does not exactly give the statistics of the parliamentary borough, since it includes a portion of the township of Nether Graveship which is not comprehended in the borough, and which we have no means of distinguishing. The difference however is not of great importance.

The town is chiefly on the slope of a hill rising from the right or western bank of the river Kent ; one principal street runs nearly parallel to the course of the river, over which are three stone bridges ; another principal street branching from this leads to Stramongate bridge, the northernmost of the three bridges. The streets are macadamised, and lighted with gas ; the houses in the principal streets are generally good, built of limestone and roofed with blue slate ; many of those in the narrow streets or lanes opening into the main streets are old houses of rough stone plastered. The church, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, stands near the south end of the town, in Kirkland township ; it is chiefly of late perpendicular character, and of poor workmanship, remarkable for its unusual width, which is 110 feet, as compared with the length of 140 feet ; the nave has four aisles, and terminates at the east end in five divisions - one the chancel, the other four chapels. There is a low engaged tower. The church contains a wooden ceiling of tolerable workmanship, and a little screen-work. There are in the town, a chapel of ease (St. George's) handsomely rebuilt in 1841 on a new site on the eastern bank of Kent, another church (St. Thomas's) erected in 1837, several dissenting meeting-houses, and a Roman Catholic chapel ; a town-hall, a house of industry, and a house of correction. A small portion of the town is on the east or left bank of the river Kent, and on the same side are the ruins of the old castle of the barons of Kendal, consisting of the outer wall, with two round and two square towers. The Castle-how, or Castle Law Hill, an ancient earthwork, is on the west side of the town, opposite the castle. It consists of a circular mound, having a ditch and rampart round its base, and a shallow ditch and a breast-work surrounding its flat top, on which is an obelisk erected in commemoration of the Revolution of 1688.

Considerable manufactures are carried on at Kendal ; they gave employment in 1831 (in the three townships) to 677 men, besides women and children ; the articles made were cotton checks, kerseys and other woollens, linsey, blanketing, fancy waistcoating, carpets, girths, hosiery, sacking, and worsted. The market is on Saturday, for corn and provisions, and is the only market of consequence in the county ; there are three yearly fairs for horses, horned cattle, and sheep, and a statute-fair for hiring servants.

The corporation under the Municipal Reform Act has six aldermen and eighteen councillors, with a commission of the peace ; the parliamentary limits have been adopted for municipal purposes, and the borough is divided into three wards. Quarter-sessions are held, and petty sessions weekly ; and there are a civil court which takes cognizance of actions from 40 shillings to £40, and a Court of Requests for debts under 40 shillings. The corporation has a revenue of nearly £500 a year from quit-rents and freehold land and houses, besides several wharfs on the canal ; it has also considerable property in trust for charitable users.

Kendal was made a parliamentary borough by the Reform Act; it returns one member to parliament. The number of voters in 1835-6 was 354 ; in 1839-40 it was 351 : showing a decrease in four years of 3.

The living of Kendal is a vicarage, of the clear yearly value of £600, with a glebe-house : the vicar presents to the perpetual curacy of St. George, which is of the clear yearly value of £200. Thirteen of the townships in the outpart of the parish constitute distinct chapelries and there is another chapel (Burneside) in the parish : with two exceptions, the vicar presents to the perpetual curacies of these chapels. The parish is in the rural deanery of Kendal, in the archdeaconry of Richmond, in the diocese of Chester.

There were in 1833, in the three townships composing the borough, an infant-school with 90 children ; three dame-schools, or other schools for children quite young, with 66 children of both sexes ; thirty-five other day-schools, with 1,212 scholars, namely, 285 boys, 330 girls, and 597 children of sex not distinguished in the return ; giving a total of 1,368 children, or between one in eight and one in nine of the population, under daily instruction. There were besides 12 persons under instruction in the evening. One of the day-schools, with 12 boys, was a free grammar-school ; two others, with 67 boys, were maintained wholly or partly by endowment or subscription ; and two others, with 145 boys and 172 girls, were national schools, partly supported by endowment and subscription, and were Sunday-schools also. There were, besides these, nine Sunday-schools, with 799 children ; making a total of 1,114 children , or less than one in ten of the population, under instruction on Sundays.

In the outparts of the parish were twenty-four day-schools of all kinds, with from 725 to 735 children, namely, 279 boys, 157 girls, and from 289 to 299 of sex not distinguished in the returns ; giving nearly one in eight of the population under daily instruction : there were also eight Sunday-schools, with 442 scholars, namely, 224 boys, 173 girls, and 45 of sex not distinguished in the returns ; giving about one in thirteen or fourteen under instruction on Sunday.

The Easter, Michaelmas, and (by adjournment) the Epiphany sessions for the county are held at Kendal, and the town is one of the polling-stations for the county.