Historian Arthur R. Nicholls highlights places of interest around Kendal

WE MISS so much by not looking about us as we pass through Kendal.

Looking up at the town hall clock for the time we see the large letter B on a circular stone plaque under the clock face.

It is a memorial to one of the town’s greatest benefactors, William Bindloss. He was Mayor of Kendal no less than six times and, when the old, cramped and inconvenient town hall was rebuilt in 1893, he and his wife contributed considerably towards the cost.

As part of the celebration of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 the clock was officially started at precisely 11 o’clock on June 22. The clock chimed the hour and the bells played their first tune to the delight of the crowds.

Further along Highgate, above the front of a shop can be seen a mortar and pestle. This was the sign of a chemist’s shop that traded there until recently. The shop has retained a beautiful front door.

At the top of Highgate Bank is a black cross on the side of a house. Its significance is not to the house but is a reminder of an ancient custom whereby funeral corteges paused by the wayside cross, which stood on the opposite side of the road, to pray for the soul of the departed. The custom continued until the turn of the twentieth century.

Continuing southwards we come to the Highgate Hotel. This is a very old inn which was built in 1769 during the reign of George III as is shown by the date and inscription above the window. Like many old inns and buildings, there is an inscription involving God’s blessing, this one reading, “To all dwellers in this place God grant Peace”. On each side of the doorway are cylindrical pillars masquerading as old milestones. They are just concrete blocks placed there some years ago to improve the appearance of the doorway.

The wall of the modern building beside the entrance to The Brewery Arts Centre is of polished marble. A casual glance would miss the fact that, in a way, it is one of the oldest parts of Kendal. It contains finely detailed masses of fossils from the carboniferous period about some three hundred million years old.

Tucked away behind cars in the wall of Tanners Yard car park, behind the Iceland store, is something that takes us back to the 18th and 19th centuries when working people often struggled to ensure food for the family. Sugar cost as much as a shilling a pound while it cost a shilling a week to feed, clothe and maintain a family. Honey was an alternative and many people kept bees in straw skeps. These were placed for protection from the weather on stone shelves in alcoves called beeboles, like those we see here today. They no longer serve their original purpose and are just a fascinating reminder of old days.