Starting point

Kendal Quaker Meeting House, Stramongate

At the end of the third walking day you will be able to enjoy a nice cup of Fairtrade tea or coffee in the Kendal Meeting House tea rooms, providing you get there before it closes at 4.30pm. Two meetings for worship are held each week in this Friends (Quaker) meeting House; on a Sunday from 10.30 to 11.30 and on a Friday from 12.30 to 1.00 when people will often stay and have lunch together.

This Georgian building near the centre of Kendal is also the home of the Quaker Tapestry that came into being as a result of a chance remark by an eleven-year-old boy attending the children’s class of a small Quaker Meeting in the South West of England in 1981. Through his teacher, Anne Wynn-Wilson the schoolboy inspired more than 4,000 men, women and children in 15 countries to create the Quaker Tapestry, which was eventually finished in 1996. This international community project is a celebration of over 350 years of Quaker insights and experiences embroidered in narrative crewel work on 77 panels of specially woven wool cloth. Each panel measures 25″ (635mm) wide by 21″ (533mm) deep.

The Fair Trade Way takes you through ‘1652 country’ where the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) were founded by George Fox. Following his vision on Pendle Hill that moved him to gather “a great people”, George Fox preached for three hours to 1,000 ‘Seekers’ on Firbank Fell in June of that year. Quakers were at the forefront of the industrial revolution, of developments in science and medicine, and were amongst the first to raise awareness of ecology. They moved into chocolate manufacturing in the 19th Century as a reaction against the misery and deprivation caused by alcohol and famous names such as Elizabeth Fry, Joseph Rowntree and George Cadbury pioneered social reform and welfare for factory workers. Quakers led the field in adult education while organisations such as Friends Provident were amongst the early insurance companies. 


Within Cumbria only Carlisle and Barrow are greater in size than Kendal with its population of over 27,000. Originally a part of Yorkshire Kendal is listed in the Domesday Book as Cherchbi and became Kirkbie Strickland when a Norman castle was built to the west of the settlement. It was later called Kirkbie Kendal, meaning “village with a church in the valley of the River Kent” before being known as Kirkby in Kendal or Kirkby Kendal and then finally just Kendal. The town now has the nickname the Auld Grey Town due to its many local grey limestone buildings.

Kendal is predominantly a tourist centre famous for its Kendal Mint cake, pipe tobacco and snuff. The opaque Kendal Mint cake was accidently discovered by Joseph Wiper when attempting to make a clear glacier mint. It is now popular with mountaineers and hill walkers as an energy food and has been used on expeditions to the summits of Mount Everest and K2 as well as originally supplied to Ernest Shackleton on his journey across the Arctic from 1914 – 1917. Now that Kendal has become a Fairtrade Town perhaps the time is right to see the manufacture of Fairtrade Kendal Mint Cake?

En Route

Hawkshead Brewery, Staveley

Hawkshead Brewery was founded by Alex Brodie, in July 2002, in a 17th century barn at Colthouse just outside Hawkshead where the four core Hawkshead beers were developed; Hawkshead Bitter, Red, Lakeland Gold and Brodies Prime. In 2006 the brewery moved to the purpose built site beside the River Kent, in Staveley where it now lies on the Fair Trade Way. The modern day visitor centre includes a beer shop, the Beer Hall where visitors can look down into the Brew House while sampling the beers and The Beer Kitchen that specialises in Real Ale food and local produce.

The Beer Hall has a Cask Marque award for serving “the perfect pint” and is in The Good Beer Guide. Hawkshead Brewery is an active member of the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) and is proud to be a small part of the modern revolution in the British brewing industry, the aim of which is the permanent revival of the British national drink – beer.

Colthouse Quaker Meeting House and burial ground

Built in 1688 the Quaker Meeting House at Colthouse near Hawkshead is one of the oldest Quaker Meeting Houses in ‘1652 Country’ (see Kendal Meeting House above). A year after it was built, Quakers were no longer persecuted when the Act of Tolerance allowed Quakers to meet, and not be in a ‘steeplehouse’. The Quakers were once strongly in evidence about this area and could not have failed to have had some influence on William Wordsworth’s formative years, as he went to school at Hawkshead.

The Meeting House is still in use today and although modernised with a toilet and kitchen it is well preserved and retains the 2 seater earth closet. There is a separate Quaker burial ground nearby, which pre-dates this building. The gravestones are of the standard Quaker type; a simple slab with a rounded top and only numerical date inscriptions to replace named months of the year.


Bowness-on-Windermere became a recognised parish in 1894 but the parish church of St Martin dates back to 1484 and the former rectory is said to have been built in 1415. In 1905, the council merged with that of Windermere, and the two civil parishes merged in 1974 under the name of Windermere, but the two towns still have their very distinct centres.

Situated on the eastern shore of Lake Windermere, Bowness is Cumbria’s most popular destination that proudly declares its Fairtrade Town status with a plaque erected at the quayside. The lake provides facilities such as sailing, fishing and water sports and the town itself provides a beautiful and relaxing setting. There are many Victorian and Edwardian buildings throughout Bowness, but if you wander behind the church into Lowside you will get a feel for life in Bowness before the advent of the railway.

William Wordsworth was a regular visitor to Bowness and the White Lion, now the Royal Hotel is mentioned in ‘The Prelude’. Other attractions and events include ‘The World of Beatrix Potter’, the Windermere Steamboat Centre in Rayrigg Road and the British classic motorboat, model boat and steamboat rally.

On the darker side, even the beautiful Bowness cannot distance itself from its slave trade past. To the south of the town you will find Storrs Hall, once the home of John Bolton who dealt in slaves, rum and cotton all imported through Whitehaven.  There are many tunnels in the basement that were once used to restrain slaves; some still have the metal rings on the walls.  One tunnel extends under the lake supposedly for the purpose of bringing in slaves after the abolition. They were brought under cover of darkness from Lakeside via the Furness railway from Barrow.  In his time Bolton was considered a philanthropist and ran regattas on the lake for the local people during the 1820’s. There is a legend that a slave girl put a curse on the house that no family living there would ever produce live children. So far this has proved true with the house now running as a hotel.

End point

The grave of Rasselas Belfield in St. Martin’s Church

The fourth section of the Fair Trade Way comes to an end at the church of St. Martin in Bowness-on-Windermere  where there has been a religious foundation for over 1,000 years. The original structure was burnt down and rebuilt in 1484, and restored in 1870. The east window contains 15th century stained glass, depicting red and white stripes and three stars, the arms of John Washington who was an ancestor of George Washington, the first president of America.

To one side of the church, away from the main burial ground is the grave of Rasselas Belfield that was listed by the Government in Aug 2008 as a UNESCO Heritage site for the International Day of Slavery. The inscription on the grave reads, “In memory of Rasselas Belfield, a native of Abyssinia, who died on 16 January, 1822 aged 32 years.  A slave by birth, I left my native land, and found my freedom in Britannia’s strand.  Blest Isle!  Thou glory of the wise and free, thy touch alone unbinds the chains of slavery”.