Beasts, cemeteries and sepulchres, oh my

What do you do on a damp drizzly morning in the Lake District? Answer, in our case, go and explore a bit more of Kendal’s rich tapestry of history.

This time, we chose the area known as Greenside, which rises steeply up the hillside on the west of the town. The main gateway to it is Beast Banks, which even Alfred Wainwright described as ‘steep’, and where animals used to be slaughtered in medieval times. (I’ve often wondered about the hygiene aspects of that. Any kind of butchery produces, erm, effluent, and here it would flow straight down the hill into the town centre, rather than into the river to be washed away. In common parlance, ew.)

Beast Banks is lined with fascinating old houses, some by noted Kendal architects George Webster and Miles Thompson, and hidden away behind these are the site of the original castle, built some time in the 11th century, and a Scottish cemetery which I only learned about a few weeks ago.

And running off the main thoroughfare are a warren of other smaller streets, alleys and lanes, many medieval in origin, some still cobbled, and all retaining much of their original atmosphere. Garth Heads was refurbished recently; High and Low Tenterfield are where the town’s weavers set up their tenter frames to create the famous Kendal Green cloth; and as for Sepulchre Lane, I have no idea what it’s named after but as you’ll see from the photo above, it’s a wonderfully spooky place. I could just imagine a coach-and-four driven by a headless coachman careering down those cobbles after dark!

A couple of weeks back we had another wander around the neighbouring district of Fellside – just as steep, just as old and quaint, and just as interesting. I’m hoping to find time to blog about that soon.

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