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Cartmel is a pleasant village in Cumbria on the Cartmel Peninsula.
In about AD 680 the district of “Cartmel and all the Burtons with it” was granted to St Cuthbert by Ecgfrith, King of Northumbria, for the purpose of establishing a monastery. No trace of any building from that period remains, but the present village of Cartmel, has much of historical interest to commend it.
Cartmel is dominated by the great medieval church, part of the long-vanished Cartmel priory established by the Earl of Pembroke in 1190 for the Augustinian or Black Friars. His insistence that the church should also serve the parish, whose inhabitants were predominantly cocklers and fishermen, ensured that, when all other traces of the priory were swept away at the Dissolution, the church was allowed to remain. The slate and limestone 12th century walls were pierced by perpendicular windows of the 15th century when the diagonally set upper stage of the central tower was also added - a unique solution to the great stresses caused by tower and lantern. The wonderful Renaissance screen and stall canopies in the choir surround misericord seats with poignant carvings. In the vestry is one of the oldest surviving umbrellas, having a leather canopy. A first edition of Spenser's Faerie Queen is another of the treasures.
The Eea brook, tamed by limestone embankments, meanders through the village. There is a small square surrounded by several pubs, and one road enters from the North under the arch of the medieval gatehouse, built in 1330, and used successively as a grammar school, and a lock-up. This unique building, restored and given to the National Trust in 1946, has one large room approached by a circular staircase.
Cartmel has for centuries been the North terminus of the route across the sands of the Bay, and an old milestone in the village records the distance to Lancaster and Ulverston by that way.
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