Visiting Kendal Castle
Kendal Castle, located in northern England, is a 13th-century medieval fortification. The castle was originally built for the Barony of Kendal, but ownership was passed to the Parr family in the 15th-century. Now ruined, parts of the wall shield the old manor hall and the only surviving tower. Today, Kendal Castle is managed by the South Lakeland District Council and is open to the public.
Parking is available in the nearby town of Kendal. It is about an 11-minute walk, 0.8 km (0.5 mi), to get to the castle from town. To reach the castle, walkers or drivers may travel across Bridge Street, over the River Kent, and up the steep hill to the castle.
Kendal also has multiple bus routes available. That is, you can take a bus from nearby towns into Kendal, and then walk from there.
Kendal Castle is freely accessible to the public.
Since the castle is open to the public, you can visit it anytime. However, it's probably best to visit during daylight hours. You can contact the South Lakeland District Council, which manages the site, for more details on visitation. They maintain the site’s upkeep and can answer any questions a potential traveller may have.
Location and Access
Kendal Castle is located at Sunnyside, Kendal LA9 7DJ, UK.
The castle is about an 11-minute walk from the town centre of Kendal 0.8 km (0.5 mi) away via Bridge St and Aynam Rd. Alternatively, it is a 4-minute drive along the same route.
The Kendal Train Station is located 0.8 km (0.5) miles from Kendal Castle.
Know Before You Go
- For more info, there are information boards and information leaflets available at tourist centres in the town of Kendal.
- The walk includes a passage up a steadily inclining hill, so bring your walking shoes!
- There are no facilities at the castle, including toilets. However, there are plenty of options for food and drink in the town of Kendal.
- Much of Kendal Castle isn’t handicap accessible. The castle stands on a hill around 300 feet above sea level and is on a steep hill. Some high levels of the castle are accessible via a stairway. There are no ramps to access these levels.
- The top of the castle offers incredible views of the countryside.
- There’s plenty of open space for children to run and explore, albeit with parental supervision.
- There are also interactive media on-site at Kendal Castle, including a “perspex” image that showcases what the castle would have looked like before it was in ruins.
- Visitors may use the footpaths below the hill on which the castle stands, for leisurely walks.
Places To Stay Nearby
Castle Green Hotel
Kilometres from the Castle: 1.6 km (1.0 mi)
Castle Green Hotel is a 4-star hotel in the town of Kendal, on the other side of the town centre and where the central hill housing the castle overlooks. Well within walking distance of the castle itself, this country house is set inside of an extended Victorian mansion.
Modern rooms feature all basic amenities and contemporary decor. Modern British cuisine is served in the hotel restaurant alongside a pub-style eatery.
Stonecross Manor Hotel
Kilometres from the Castle: 1.9 km (1.2 mi)
The Stonecross Manor Hotel is a 3-star hotel set in a converted 1850s orphanage just south of Kendal town centre. Warm rooms feature period furnishings alongside modern amenities such as Wi-Fi and TVs. Select rooms have 4-poster beds and a whirlpool bath.
Guests can enjoy a complimentary breakfast from a restaurant serving local fare and afternoon tea. In addition, there’s an indoor pool and a hot tub, along with spa treatments. An event space dance floor is also available on-site.
Riverside Hotel Kendal
Kilometres from the Castle: 2.6 km (1.6 mi)
The Riverside Hotel Kendal is a 3-star hotel just off the River Kent in the town centre of Kendal. The hotel is set within a converted 17th-century tannery. It lay within walking distance of the castle as well as the Abbot Hall Art Gallery. A refined restaurant overlooks the river alongside a bistro eatery and bar. Other amenities include an indoor pool, sauna, and a steam room. Pets are welcome at the hotel!
History of Kendal Castle
The 13th-century Kendal Castle stands over the Kendal skyline, a spectre from a former world. Originally built around 1200, according to the Kendal website, the stone castle was constructed to replace the wooden motte and bailey on the opposite side of the river at Castle Howe. The castle was built on a drumlin (a glacial hill) and stood as the seat of power for the barons of Kendal for over 200 years.
The Parr family represents the most well-known family associated with the castle. One of the residents included Queen Catherine Parr, the 6th - and final - wife of King Henry VIII of England. Though her family resided in the castle for ages, by the time that Catherine Parr was born, the structure was falling into disrepair.
During the Tudor period (1485-1603), the castle became a ruin. It has stayed that way ever since, with only a few walls and a single tower remaining from the original construction.
Currently, the castle ruins provide a public space for visitors to explore and view the cityscape from the hill's elevation. At the Kendal Museum in town, there are exhibitions and artefacts displaying some additional aspects of the castle's history.
Kendal Castle was built, a stone castle to replace the wooden motte and bailey that was previously on the opposite side of what’s now the River Kent, known as Castle Howe. The castle was built by Gilbert fitz Roger fitz Reinfried, Sheriff of Lancaster.
William fitz Reinfried rehabilitated the castle, making additions and renovations. From this point, the castle's ownership and care passed through many of his descendants’ hands.
King Richard II transferred ownership of the castle to the Parr family.
William Parr's widow remarried and left Kendal for Northamptonshire. Care for the castle presumably fell with her and her administration's departure. For years hence the castle sat abandoned.
Local Kendal legends suggested that Catherine Parr, the most prominent of the Parr dynasty due to her marriage to King Henry VIII, was birthed inside of the castle. However, historians countered that this was unlikely to be true. By the date of her birth in 1512, evidence confirmed that Kendal Castle was already ruined.
The last Kendal Baron, William Parr, died. The castle's overwatch was abandoned from this point onward, and the building slowly fell into a more ruinous state.
Celebrations for the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria include the purchase of Castle Hill, on which Kendal Castle sits, for "public enjoyment" purposes, by the Kendal Corporation.
Kendal Castle Occupants
Kendal Castle has stood the test of time. Though its history of events and occupants may be sparse, it still stands today, overlooking the town of Kendal. Here’s a list of some of the notable persons to reside in or visit the castle over its long existence:
- Gilbert fitz Roger fitz Reinfried, Sheriff of Lancaster.
- William Parr, 1st Marquess of Northampton, 1st Earl of Essex, 1st Baron Parr
- Baroness Elizabeth De Bures (de Ros), Heiress of Kendal
- The Father of Sir Thomas Parr, the father of Catherine Parr, Queen of England, 6th and final wife of King Henry VIII
Images of Kendal Castle
Images Supplied and licensed from Shutterstock Standard Licence Package
Kendal Castle Facts
According to the Cumbria Directory, the castle was originally built with earth and timber materials but was rebuilt with stone by Gilbert Reinfried to fortify it against potential attacks in a more modern age.
Improper restorations over the years of Kendal Castle’s existence have inadvertently exposed hidden clues as to the original nature and purpose of the castle’s initial buildings. Despite this, many mysteries remain surrounding the castle’s history and usage. Historians are not completely sure of who used the castle rooms or even how they were used.
For more detailed information on Kendal Castle, the official Kendal website provides a seven-part audio tour to give "visitors a better understanding of the castle, celebrating its former glory as a lavish manor house." The audio tour is free and available to anyone online.
Kendal Castle Q&A
Can You Bring a Picnic?
You can bring a picnic as spacious and grassy areas are available around the entire area that make for an excellent picnicking area. There are no food and drink options at the castle but plenty in the nearby town of Kendal.
Are Dogs Allowed?
Pet dogs and service dogs are allowed public access to the castle. People often use the site to take leisurely walks with their pets. Visitors are encouraged to bring a waste bag to pick up after their pet or service animal.
Are There Tour Guides at the Castle?
There are no tour guides at the castle. But there are interactive media within the castle that provide more information on the castle's history. There’s also a free audio tour available through the official Kendal website here.
Can I Take Photos and Videos at the Castle?
Because Kendal Castle is public land, visitors are permitted to take photos and videos.
What Is There To See at Kendal Castle?
The castle grounds boast a large gatehouse, towers, and a hall. There’s a chapel site near the Lyons Den Tower. The main tower is the tallest, rising approximately three storeys high.
While there isn’t much left, the inside wall once featured service buildings, a guard tower, and a dungeon chamber.
The curtain wall is one of the most fascinating pieces of stonework on the grounds. Within the stone, visitors can see the different workmanship, indicating there were multiple workmen. There’s a crack within the stonework where it’s believed that there was some kind of bout.
From the walls of the castle, visitors can view across the river and see Castle Howe, the original site of Kendal Castle.
Is Kendal Castle Handicap Accessible?
Kendal Castle isn’t handicap accessible. The castle stands atop a steep hill and is quite a climb. Some levels of the tower are only accessible via a stairway, so visitors who are wheelchair-bound cannot access these towers. Additionally, there are no accommodations located on the castle grounds, including toilets.
Location of Kendal Castle
Kendal Castle is located about 1.1 km (0.7 mi) from the town centre of Kendal, which has a population of about 28,586. Situated in the county of Cumbria, the castle is about 402 km (250 mi) northeast of London.
Kendal Castle's address is Sunnyside, Kendal LA9 7DJ, UK.
Other Places To Visit Near Kendal Castle
Near the castle, within the county of Cumbria, lie a variety of other attractions for visitors to enjoy. Some other potential points of interest for a traveller within 32 kilometres (20 mi) of Kendal Castle and the town of Kendal are detailed below:
The Kendal Museum lay in the heart of the city, just off of the River Kent. The museum features educational displays on regional histories, wildlife, archaeology, and geology, including Kendal Castle itself. For those interested in more unique displays, the museum houses a wide variety of taxidermy.
The museum is about 3.4 km (2.1 miles) away from the castle.
The precursor to Kendal Castle, what is left of Castle Howe is available as a public space for travellers to visit just the same. An informational plaque details the history of these ruins along a path by the last remaining walls. This castle is also visible atop the towers of Kendal Castle.
Castle Howe is about 2.1 km (1.3 mi) away from Kendal Castle, on the other side of the River Kent. It lies between Gilling Gate and Beast Banks and can be easily reached from either via footpaths.
Brewery Arts is a multifaceted art studio with two cinemas, a drama studio, art galleries, a theatre, and a restaurant and bar. Visitors can watch and participate in some or all of these attractions, members or not.
Brewery Arts is only about 1.3 km (0.8 mi) away from the castle.
A quiet and scenic park to visit on the other side of Kendal. Formerly named 'Dob Freer,' from the Cumbrian dialect for "free land," the park gets its new name from the varying directions of its many paths.
The Serpentine Woods is about 2.3 km (1.4 mi) away from the castle. If you have young children you can entertain them by following the “Alphabet Walk.” You may also enjoy the nature trails, which feature plaques explaining the different environments within Serpentine Woods.
Juggling Inferno Fire Performers
An intriguing entertainment agency of fire-juggling performers, available for hire! These creative performance artists can thrill and amaze guests with their fire-bending abilities. Honestly, how could this not be worth exploring? If you’re in Kendal, the Juggling Inferno Fire Performers building is probably worth a visit.
Their studio is approximately 2.7 km (1.7 miles) away from the castle.
KendalWall, Lakeland Climbing Centre
KendalWall is a rock climbing gym in north Kendal. Features all-weather climbing facilities across five levels, including bouldering walls. For all ages and abilities.
KendalWall is about 4.8 km (3.0 mi) away from the castle.
National Trust - Sizergh
Sizergh is a 14th-century medieval fortress containing Elizabethan carvings and furniture for visitors to peruse. Majestic trees surround a quaint rock garden. See their website for opening times and ticket prices for your visit to the fort.
Sizergh fortress is approximately 7.2 km (4.5 mi) away from Kendal Castle.
Paddy Lane Viewpoint
Paddy Lane Viewpoint is a public area, providing travellers with an elevated, wide-ranging vision of the surrounding area of green fields. East of Kendal, this common tourist attraction presents you with a majestic sight of the rolling hills and farmlands of the English countryside, including potentially that of the castle itself to the west!
Paddy Lane is about 5.1 km (3.2 mi) away from Kendal Castle.
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- Riverside Hotel: Kendal Hotels - Riverside Hotel in Kendal with Swimming & Gym
- Everbright Hotels: Stonecross Manor Hotel
- Castle Green: Castle Green Hotel in Kendal
- Britannica: Drumlin | geology
- Visit Kendal: Kendal Castle - Kendal Town
- South Lakeland District Council: Home
- Visit Lake District: Kendal Castle
- National Trust: Visit Sizergh
- Kendall Wall: Climbing and Instruction Kendal Wall
- Juggling Inferno Creative Performers: Home
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- Kendal Museum: Home
- The Cumbria Directory: Kendal Castle
- Visit Cumbria: Kendal Natural History Museum
- Visit Cumbria: Castle Howe
- Discover Cumbria: Serpentine Woods - Alphabet Trail Family Walk
- Visit Cumbria: Kendal - Serpentine Woods
- Wikipedia: Tudor Period
- Britain Express: Kendal Castle, History & Photos
- The Westmorland Gazette: New signage completes Kendal Castle upgrade