It is one of the larger towns in Cumbria, but was formerly in the old county of Westmorland. It is often referred to as the "Gateway to the Lakes".
The ruins of Kendal Castle overlook the town from the opposite bank of the River Kent. The castle was built in the 13th century, and was the birthplace of Catherine Parr, the sixth and final wife of Henry VIII.
An earlier castle, built in the late 11th century, is now represented by earthworks known as Castle Howe.
Kendal was well known in mediaeval times for the skills of its bowmen, clad in cloth of Kendal Green. The town was an important weaving centre.
Today it is is best known for the energy giving confectionery Kendal mint cake, as well as snuff.
Holy Trinity Church, in the oldest part of the town known as Kirkland, dates from the 13th century. It is one of the largest in England, boasting five aisles.
Well known cultural buildings in Kendal include the Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Abbot Hall Museum of Lakeland Life and Brewery Arts Centre.
The Friends Meeting House contains the celebrated Quaker Tapestry.
The narrow streets around the Market Place feature a large number of hidden passages and courtyards.
K Shoes, representing another long standing local industry, are at present rebuilding their K Village.
Those born in Kendal include Ephraim Chambers, encyclopaedist; Queen Catherine Parr; and George Romney, painter.
Alfred Wainwright, famous for his guidebooks based on walking, was Borough Treasurer here.
John Cunliffe based the adventures of Postman Pat on the post office at Beast Bank in Kendal.