About Our New Hometown

First, let me locate Kendal for you. It’s on the southeastern edge of the UK’s famous Lake District (in Northwest England), 19 miles north of Lancaster, 8 miles southeast of Windermere, in the

Early Morning on the Kent River
Early Morning on the River Kent



valley of the      River Kent.




I give you these distances as a reality check for me, because as we venture out on

Our Driver for the Lake District
Our Driver for the Lake District



Bus 555




they seem so much greater. For example, a few days ago we went to Lancaster for lunch. That 19-mile journey took 75 minutes. Of course, we didn’t go directly, having to make stops in little hamlets in this direction and that direction off Highway A591. But still, 75 minutes to cover 19 miles! (It’s fun to mention oh so casually that we once moved from Oregon to Tennessee, putting nearly 3,000 miles on the odometer. These folks have very expressive eyes.)

The population is 28,586. The town seems much bigger—but that may be because we walk everywhere, even when grocery shopping and having to return home toting heavy bags. Then the town seems quite big. Kendal is, truth to tell, the third largest town in Cumbria. I pay careful attention to see if I can detect the distinctive Kendal accent, but I can’t; many people here are from elsewhere in England, and one thing England has in abundance is accents. I listen first, then try to guess where the person I just met is from. Then I ask. I’m always wrong.

Kendal is our favorite of the Lake District towns. It doesn’t have a lake, but it can boast of its Kent River.

The Lake District Loves It’s Paths & Dogs
The Lake District Loves Its Paths & Dogs



Almost every morning I have walked the footpaths along its banks,




shaking my head that this quietly flowing water could have wreaked such havoc here in December, when the great flood drove thousands from their homes, some of whom haven’t yet been able to return. The resilience of the residents is evident, though. Almost everything seems back to normal. If we hadn’t been told of the flood we wouldn’t have guessed there had been one, although the knowing resident’s eye can pick out the unfinished home. “Insurance,” is how they explain the delays.

We live at 50 Stramongate Street, Yard 44

Joseph Cottage Gate 44
Joseph Cottage
Gate 44

.We haven’t seen such numbered Yards before. I’ve seen such numbers up to the 150s; there are probably others even higher. Ours is typical, with the iron gates to keep out the unwanted. Centuries ago the natives could hide in them from raiding parties from the north and south (Scotland and England). That’s back when the major industry was textiles, woolen goods specifically, referred to as Kendal Green from their distinctive color. Sheep could be hidden in these yards. Now the Yards are alleys with shops in them, access to parking areas, or like ours lined with small flats (apartments).

Joseph Cottage as viewed from Bus Stop
Joseph Cottage as viewed from the Bus Stop



Speaking of our flat.




We are comfortable here. It’s like new inside. We were told this building used to be a pub, but now it houses several newly-remodeled apartments like ours. We wondered one evening whether it was haunted, though. We heard talking and music coming from my bedroom (we have two; seemed a shame to waste one). I trained my one good ear on every nook and cranny but couldn’t locate the source. Then I summoned Joy. (I do this often. I’m terrible at finding things.) She couldn’t locate it, either. Then, almost accidentally, I spotted light coming out of a crack in the bed’s footboard. And sound. Then I looked under the bed and found electrical stuff. Aha! Turns out that the unusually thick footboard houses a TV. A TV? Then I checked the unused remote controls on the stand beside the bed. Pushed a button.

Watching TV at the Foot of the Bed
Watching TV at the Foot of the Bed



A TV ascended from the foot of the bed.



You’ll notice in the picture that Joy immediately laid claim to it. So much for thinking of ourselves as sophisticated travelers. We’ve never seen a hidden telly before.

Oh, we thought you’d like to see the view of the Majestic Wine Warehouse from our kitchen window.

View From Our Kitchen Window
View From Our Kitchen Window



The flat is conveniently located, don’t you think?




Back to the Yards. A cab driver said he thought they served “back when” as sheepfolds. That makes sense in an area where the sheep are so valuable. But there are probably as many explanations as there are taxi drivers.

We also have our own castle, Kendal Castle. It’s just a pile of rocks now, though. Built in the late 1100s, rumor has it that the Parr family inherited it and that Catherine Parr, Henry VIII’s sixth and last wife, was born here.  There’s no evidence that this happened but it’s a great tourist tidbit. (The truth is that when she was born the castle had already fallen into disrepair and her family didn’t live in the area.)

We have lots and lots of churches. I had every intention of getting better acquainted with them until we got waylaid by St. George’s hospitality. Their buildings are old but there’s lots of life in them, we’re told.

Speaking of old: We see an abundance of old people in town. The population here is older than the national average—and I think the national average of England is pretty high. One chart I saw says almost a quarter of the people in Kendal are over 65. As I’ve said before, we feel right at home here.

Today (Wednesday) we visited the town’s excellent Museum where we experienced another first:

Torch Light Photo of Pretty Bird in Kendal Museum
Torchlight Photo of “Pretty Bird” in Kendal Museum



we toured the wildlife section by torch




(that’s a flashlight with a British accent). Art students sat in the darkness before various windows, sketching the birds and beasts and butterflies on exhibit. Who’d have thought? I strained to see the displays, wondering what was so special about the experience. My artistic wife was disappointed when the lights came on; what before had seemed mysterious and intriguing now seemed like any other array of stuffed animals.

One final comment about the town and the museum. We saw the sign for Kendall Grammar School with its founding date: 1525. What a contrast between this culture with its gray stone row houses and

Steeple with a River View
Steeple with a River View



ancient spired churches,




and our American throw-away society, where old is bad and should be torn down and only the new is to be desired. Here deteriorating

St George Catholic Church, Kendal
St George Catholic Church, Kendal



buildings are propped up and refurbished.




In America valued properties are torn down to make way for new condos or a parking lot.

On my morning walk I discovered a previously overlook un-spired church. The building is relatively new by the standards here, but the congregation of the

Stricklandgate Methodist Church
Stricklandgate Methodist Church



Stricklandgate Methodist Church has been meeting since the 16th century.





The plaque is a testimony to the abiding influence of John Wesley–who preached in Kendal once on a Monday (not even Sunday!) in 1753.


I’ve preached in lots of places, with nary even any scribbled graffiti to commemorate the occasion. Sigh!

Okay. I must quit. The point of this post is to assure you we like our new old home.

28 thoughts on “About Our New Hometown”

  1. Another lovely update. I would love a day to walk those paths with you. If you are killing time–google Richard Cox, Bishop of Ely. He was my 12th generation Grand father and a big part of the reformation. He was Henry 8th’s chaplain and under Edward 6 was Chancellor of University of Oxford 1547-1552. Most known for being in charge of confiscating the Catholic properties for Henry.

    1. Thanks Brian. It has been fun to see my photography used and learning how to improve them in Photoshop really improves the quality.

  2. Greetings from Indonesia. I am finishing my 6th week here and have landed in the most adorable house of a missionary on furlough. Salatiga is a world away from my 5 weeks in Makassar. I now have a western toilet and an actual shower. There are no 3 inch cockroaches to greet me in the bathroom every morning and to my husband’s dismay I am growing accustomed to a housekeeper who cooks and cleans for me. Easing my way back to American life I guess. I have 2 more weeks here and most of my time is spent at a safe house for women rescued from trafficking. They have a sewing co-op and set up a machine for me to “get to work”. They are precious ladies. Glad you are both doing well and I love your blog. By the way Amanda and Jonathon Moore say hello and want to know how to get in the Velcro family, so since they are such fun, they have now been attached. Love you, Julie Ronde

    1. Ah, but do they qualify? Remember: in order to get into the Lawson Velcro family you have to have come from a dysfunctional one. They must pass the test. Glad your time in Indonesia has been/is so rewarding. DOD

          1. Well, I truly qualify, Roy, but there goes that! But wait! You didn’t mention how much! There are those who have just been waiting at the door to get in! LOL

  3. Roy and Joy, thank you for including me in your list of followers! i’m a ran or the map and will pinpoint you there in England. My sister was a bride in England when she flew there to meet up with her Air Force fiance many years ago. I imagine an English accent when I read, but you mention that there are many! Cheers! Loretta

  4. Roy, thanks for including me in this blog. To celebrate (and to encourage you) I will scribble a note on a piece of paper to celebrate your having preached at Boones Creek. I’m not sure where it will go yet but will assure a prominent display. Love to you my English brother. David Clark

    1. And thanks to your hospitality, you could put a plaque by the children’s bedroom door, something simple like “Roy Lawson slept here!”

  5. Did somebody say “dysfunctional”? LOL! Love & miss you, Lawson’s! It’s been a long time! My “little one” is now 6’2″ & starts Marine Corps boot camp on Oct 24th in San Diego. Where has the time gone? Thank you for letting me tag along on your blog! 💖 Debby

  6. catching up on your blog. thought about you two weeks ago as we were in oregon traveling down the coast to sightsee and look at lighthouses. didn’t you spend the summer there? beautiful country and my first time there. wishing you safe, healthy, and happy travels! lunch with carolyn tomorrow, now that they are back in town..

    1. Glad you got to see our homeland. It is much like our temporary home in England. Also glad you will enjoy Carolyn’s company. She and Jim are now back in their homeland.

  7. September 19, 2016

    Hello, Roy ….

    So, you are now living near the River Kent and in the village of Kendal ……. how did you choose Merry Olde England as a place of residence? I had the privilege of being in the London area for one month. I attended Westminster Chapel (not the Abby) one Sunday. Martin Lloyd Jones was the Pastor. He was a British Theologian and preacher. I look forward to future blogs from my favorite Pastor.
    – Chet

    1. We had planned to spend this time in London, but our housing plans (Plan A) were changed. Joy’s long wanted to spend more time in the Lake District and I shared fondness for the area, so we quickly shifted to Plan B. It was the right decision.
      I’m to young to have heard Martin Lloyd-Jones but I read some of his books You were fortunate to have heard him.
      Good to hear from you and Betty

  8. September 19, 2016

    Hello, Roy ….

    So, you are now living near the River Kent and in the village of Kendal ……. how did you choose Merry Olde England as a place of residence? I had the privilege of being in the London area for one month. I attended Westminster Chapel (not the Abby) one Sunday. Martin Lloyd Jones was the Pastor. He was a British Theologian and preacher. I look forward to future blogs from my favorite Pastor.
    – Chet

  9. Hi Roy,. So happy to hear you’re getting around so well. Joan and I, along with another couple, will head to Gold Beach tomorrow via the “short route” to ride the mail boat to Agness… and beyond. It’s our 49th anniversary, you know, and considering that Joan enjoys whitewater, I can’t think of a better present! I’ll also be thinking of you and the rest of the guys as we shoot thru those rapids even if the weather isn’t the same! I can’t “tolerate” another breakfast at the Tututun Lodge but I’ll remember that crazy breakfast Mike got stuck with! Roy, it’s so good to know you & Joy are able to do everything on your list. Have fun, old pal. We love you! Jeff & Joan
    PS Forget Brian’s babbling about home-town-hot-Mesa. We know you’ll settle in cool-in-so-many-ways-Oregon!

    1. Congratulations on 49 years of marital bliss. Like you, I can’t think of a better place to celebrate the occasion. Hug Ellie for us.

    2. Don’t pay any attention to those voices from the mud and rain!! You want beautiful sunshine. (Then we’ll go *visit* the cool county together!)

  10. I love your writings and photos!! I feel as if I’m on the trip with you. Your flat looks to be very comfortable …. what a well earned life you are enjoying!

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