The Wheatsheaf.....one of the first or the last pubs on a good night out round Kendal....depending on which way you went around town!. The difference between the somewhat shabby 2006 pub in the photo below, and the newly renovated building shown in the last photo is pretty amazing. The Wheatsheaf Inn is situated in
Kirkland, next to the entrance to Kirkbarrow Lane, or
the T’ crack. This ancient lane leads past the site of the stable block and the
that belonged to the inn. Brendan Jameson was always very dismissive of the green plaque that Kendal's Civic Society have put up at the entrance to the yard....as a youth, he told me that he never heard anybody refer to the lane as T' crack....but we'll go with it for the sake of this post!
Above. The Wheatsheaf in 2006
The ancient Kirkbarrow House that is shown on John Speed’s map of 1611, still stands at the end of the lane.
Kirkland had around twenty three inns and pubs, and the Wheatsheaf was, up until a few years back, one of only three
surviving inns in this area. That's a lot of beer-drinking choice for the residents of this part of town!
The outline of the inn and it bowling green can clearly be seen on John Todd’s map of Kendal from 1787. The maypole that would have been the centre of gatherings in
removed in either 1782 (as stated by Cornelius Nicholson) or 1792 (as stated by J.F.
Curwen) Both historians give different locations for the maypole, but agree on
the general locality…i.e. outside the Wheatsheaf. The stonework for the base of
the maypole was reportedly found buried outside and had to be removed when cutting
trenches to make way for gas pipes in 1825. This small stretch of road is indeed wider than the rest of Kirkland....so it may just have been the place a maypole would have been situated?
Above. The Wheatsheaf's last hanging sign
The area that the Wheatsheaf occupied was the most extensive in Kendal, taking up two hundred and fifty four feet from its frontage in
Kirkland, to Kirkbarrow house at the rear. A
good percentage of the property held was taken up by the bowling green, gardens and according to a for
sale advert of 1854 “six neatly arranged cottage houses”. To the rear of this section of the property, was the
stabling for six horses, with access to the stables gained via Cross Street and Chapel Lane. The
fact that the inn had stables is a little odd, as it had no rooms for let prior
to 1896. It is possible that the stabling was for dray horses, there were after all many breweries in the locality. It’s also possible that the owner during the mid 19th
century, Henry Martin, lived in Kirkbarrow, and used the stabling for his
family and visiting friends.
Above. The Wheatsheaf in 2017
In the1850s the inn had a frontage of no more than 28 feet, with a yard at the North side of the frontage, offering access to the rear of the property. By 1854, the frontage had reduced to just thirty odd feet. From the 1850s to 1896, the frontage was extended to include space taken up by the entrance to the yard. This area later became the Vault Room.
In 1896, under the ownership of Spencers of Whitehaven, the inn was virtually rebuilt at a cost of £2000. Between 1894 and 1897, William Cropper was tenant of the inn, with the owners being listed as Jonas Alexander and Sons. Sometime between 1940 and 1960, the frontage of the inn was again extended, taking over the shop further up the street. This was part of the bar area. In the mid 1980s, another property was obtained, and the bar was further extended.
There is no evidence to suggest that the Wheatsheaf existed before 1728.