Idiosyncratic Tour of Kendal's Yards and Ale Houses
are numerous books and publications about "Auld
Kendal" and its yard system ranging from Cornelius
The Annals of Kendal:
Being an Historical and Descriptive Account
and the Neighbourhood
with Biographical Sketches
of Many Eminent Personages
Connected with the Town
Percy and Margaret Duff's fine range of old photos
to publications by the present day expert, Trevor
Hughes. Even Wainwright got in on the
act with his Kendal
in the 19th Century
is not one of such Auld Kendal yards publications although there will
be references to various items of historic interest
(to me, perhaps not for others).
is at least one publication about the history
of the licensed premises:
Dave Kingwell & Brendan Jameson
website is not one of such licensed premises publications.
will be references to various pubs still
open (or maybe recently closed) and perhaps
some elements of their background.
other words, these web pages are not to be taken
as an historical nor an exhaustive (or even
exist purely as the result of a whim I had one day whilst
wandering around Kendal with time on my hands.
implied that this is not a history lesson, a paragraph
or two might help set the scene.
the Yards. One of the features of Kendal is the number
of "yards" that exist (or existed) off the
main streets. Local mythology (and Wikipaedia)
suggests they were built to protect the population from
marauding Scots. Given that at times in the early
second millennium Kendal is believed to have been in
Scottish hands, they might equally be regarded as defence
against marauding English.
the truth is likely to be rather more mundane
and of industrial origin.
was a town based on wool- its motto is Pannus
(Wool is my bread) and Shakespeare makes
reference to archers dressed in Kendal Green.
yards are thought to have started as a system
of primitive wool factories.
would have a fine house at the top or bottom
of the yard (depending on the slope to the
Naturally, the workers would live in the
surrounding cottages leading downhill.
support the dating argument, there are no yards to be
seen on John Speede's 1614 map of Kendal but they are
very clear on the map prepared for the 1861 edition
of Nicholson's Annals
seems likely therefore that they were mainly of Georgian
to early Victorian origin. Certainly to my untrained
eye, the architecture of the master buildings appears
to be of that era. Several yards have (or had)
either a church or a theatre or other fine building
at its far end. Many had (and still have) a public house
at their entrance.
the theme: Yards of Ale.
intention was to wander through the hinterlands of Kendal,
visiting as many of the yards and the alehouses as was
reasonably practical. Tony volunteered to come
with me which was a big help because, as a Kendalian
interested in such things, he had a detailed knowledge
of the yards and even more so of the pubs. The
only trouble was that he envisaged the tour taking place
in one day and I thought it would be sensible for it
to take a little longer.
has (or had) a very high ratio of pubs to people, second
only to Otley. Or maybe Tony made that up given
that both towns and their pubs figure large in his life.
the number of licensed premises in Kendal has changed
little over recent years, although those that we would
call a pub are much fewer in number and several of them
currently have their doors shut. Even so, a circuit
in one day is well beyond my capabilities and would
eliminate any possibility of remembering anything about
them, never mind the yards.
is several years since I wrote the above. Since
then two things have happened and one hasn't.
first thing that happened is that in 2017
Trevor Hughes and Arthur Nicholls produced
a book called The Yards of Kendal.
is not a direct mirror of what we intended
to do and indeed could be regarded as complementary
or even a base point from which to work.
Certainly it is a much more learned
account of the "the atmposphere
and character of the yards and the lives
of their inhabitants."
so far, we haven't got round to starting
the project so that is the thing what hasn't
second thing that has happened is that two of my grandchildren,
Luca and Ellie, were intent on exploring Kendal's yards.
Alas they are too young as yet to take their Opa
(that's what they call me) into the pubs but hopefully
that day will come!
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