Castle Dairy, Kendal

Has been described as a Questionable Fortified Town House

There are major building remains

NameCastle Dairy, Kendal
Alternative Names
Historic CountryWestmorland
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishKendal

Farmhouse; the name implies an association with Kendal Castle but 'Dairy' may be a corruption of 'Dowry'. Now a restaurant. Probably C14; extensively remodelled c1560 for Anthony Garnett (numerous dated features have survived). Later additions and alterations. Coursed rubble with quoins. Graduated stone-flag roofs; stone chimneys (corbelled to west wing and projecting to east wing). Central Hall with 2-storey cross-wing to either end. For detailed description (including exceptionally well-preserved interior) see R.C.H.M. Westmorland (1936), with the following amendments: multi-light windows, to Hall front and to west wing 1st floor, were renewed in 1983/4 (all in facsimile except for heads carved on label-stops to Hall window). On the interior, 2 more original doorways (with pointed heads) have been opened up on the left-hand side of the cross-passage; the ground floor, east wing, fireplace and some of the original windows have also been unblocked. The extension to the rear of the west wing has been demolished. (Listed Building Report)

The building recording confirmed many details found by Curwen, though he had not examined every part of it. The earliest section is the main hall, essentially a single storey and probably originally open to the roof, with a cross-passage linking a probable service wing through three doors (not all exposed in Curwen’s time). Defence was evidently a consideration in this earlier building, with draw bar slots, one still housing its bar, associated with two of the doorways from the passage. The two slightly irregular wings at either end were probably both added at a later date in the medieval period or perhaps by the Garnetts, specifically Antony Garnett, around 1560. These have potentially defensive features like several small windows, little more than the size of a gun loop, that give remarkably good views along Wildman Street. (Elsworth 2011)

Gatehouse Comments

The suggestion this building has defensive features rest somewhat on what is meant by 'defensive'. A draw bar is a somewhat expensive way to secure a door but is it really that more than just the ordinary domestic security any house would have? The suggestion small windows are defensive, in the context of the other ground floor windows being large, is odd. Of course one can fire a pistol from any window but ports specifically designed for such purposes are clearly different than these small windows which are best explained for the economic reasons of larger windows costing more (the larger the lintel, the large the cost) and comfort (large windows let the cold in).

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSD519930
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Photo by Matthew Emmott All Rights Reserved
Photo by Matthew Emmott All Rights Reserved
Photo by Matthew Emmott All Rights Reserved
Photo by Matthew Emmott All Rights Reserved
Photo by Matthew Emmott All Rights Reserved
Photo by Matthew Emmott All Rights Reserved

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  • RCHME, 1936, An inventory of the historical monuments in Westmorland (HMSO) p. 125-6 no. 1 online transcription
  • Curwen, J.F., 1900, Kirkbie-Kendall: Fragments collected relating to its ancient streets and yards; church and castle; houses and inns (Kendal: Titus Wilson) p. 417- online copy
  • Nicholson, C., 1861 (2edn), Annals of Kendal: being a historical and descriptive account of Kendal and the neighbourhood (London and Kendal) p. 98-102 online copy


  • Speed, John, 1611-12, The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain online copy)


  • Elsworth, Dan, 2011 summer, 'Recent Work at the Castle Dairy, Kendal' Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Newsletter no. 67 p. 7 online copy
  • McIntire, W.T., 1936, 'Proceedings - Castle Dairy Kendal' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 38 p. 305 online copy
  • Curwen, J.F., 1916, 'Castle Dairy at Kendal' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 16 p. 101-7 (plan) online copy
  • Wilson, E., 1916, 'The Castle Dairy' The Kendalian vol. 16.1 p. 49-51
  • Haresfield, G., 1855, 'Castle Dairy, Kendal, Westmoreland' Notes and Queries Vol. 279 p. 159-160


  • English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 47 online copy
  • < >Greenlane Archaeology Ltd, 2010 July, Castle Dairy, Wildman Street, Kendal, Cumbria Archaeological Building Recording (Greenlane Archaeology Ltd for NPS Group) online copy < >
  • English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 44 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2006, Extensive Urban Survey - Cumbria (Cumbria County Council) Download copy