Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Kendal, Union Tavern

Union Tavern
Windermere Road

The first and last public house on Windermere Road, the Union has probably been opening its doors to thirsty drinkers since possibly around 1834.....a Poor Law Amendment Act was passed in 1834, meaning that Kendal workhouse and Milnthorpe workhouse formed a partnership. This became known as the Kendal Union, and at this time, records show the building at 159 Stricklandgate as The Union Tavern.

Above, The Union Tavern in 2006. 

The building itself dates from around 1800, and before its life as an inn, it was used as a Spinning House...otherwise known as a Jack Shop. There is possibly some indication as to how the inn obtained its name here, the Union taking its name from the Union Jack...the flag of the United Kingdom, signified in its hanging sign by the floral emblems of England, Scotland and Ireland.

Above. The hanging sign of the Union Tavern.

As the name suggests, the Union is epitomised by the presence of the Thistle (Scotland), the Shamrock (Ireland) and the Rose (England) in its hanging sign. 

The Union was sold at a public auction in 1847, to its first named landlord, Thomas Tate, for the grand sum of £600. The Alexanders, a brewing family of Kendal owned the building from 1871 until 1947, with only around 10 years break in this period. The stables were still to the rear of the inn up until recently...I'll have to check to see if they're still there. 

Between 1871 and 1947, the Alexanders, a well known local brewing family, owned the inn. An advertisement from 1913, relating to the Alexander's Beezon Brewery, stated that the inn offered 'noted light and strong Kendal ales'. By the end of the 1940s, Duttons Backburn Brewery Limited, was slowly taking over many of the Alexanders inns in town. By 1951, their final business venture, a mineral water business, was closed, and around ten years later, the Alexander brewing company was no more.

A few famous names have passed through the doors of the union Tavern in its time. Stories have been told of John Lowe, three time world darts champion, losing his darts in the inn.....and Randolph Turpin, world Middle Weight boxing champion in 1951, staying the night on his way home after losing to Sugar Ray Robinson!

After being closed for a number of years, from 2013, a victim of the general decline of Kendal's collection of great hostelries, the Union has been re-branded as the New Union Tavern. 

Check their Facebook page for more information.

Kendal, Hyena Inn

The Heyna Inn

The Hyena, situated on Fellside and hidden amongst the maze of backstreets that makes up the area to the West of Highgate, was one of Kendal's smallest inns....challenging the Ring O'bells for the honour of the most bijou hostelry in town! 

Above. The Hyena Inn, pre 1966.

Records show that the Hyena was open for business from sometime before 1834...it was sold at this time and described as "all that newly-erected inn known by the sign of the Hyena". 

Above. The Hyena Inn in 2010.

Business continued at the Hyena, known affectionately amongst its regulars, as the 'Tina', until 1966, when the landlord of the day, Martin Dawson, decided it was time to close the doors for good. 

At the time of its closure, Kendal could boast 33 inns, though with the closure of the Hyena, the number of drinking establishments in Kendal was reduced to 32. The building, now a cottage, has survived the building clearances of the 1960s and a great deal of development in the area....another old inn that has managed to survive.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Kendal, Wheatsheaf Inn

Wheatsheaf Inn

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 bowling green 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 Kirkland, was 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.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Kendal, Victoria Tavern

Victoria Tavern

Never on the normal round on a Friday or Saturday night, I think I only frequented this a few times during lunch time during my years at Bridge Mills whilst working for Prolific Life and Pensions\Scottish Provident. The inn closed a number of years ago now, and has joined the ranks of first class redevelopments. It now houses a number of flats.

In the early 19th century, wool merchant James Gandy owned a large estate comprising of land at the Northern edge of the town. Development schemes were undertaken on Longpool, where Union Row, a terrace of two storey cottages was built. Number 15 was the Victoria Tavern, and it was built in conjunction with the Kendal Union Building Society in 1820. Behind the tavern and the cottages, runs Stock Beck, which was very prone to flooding, and producing the ‘Long Pool’, one of the causes of so much flood damage during Storm Desmond in 2015. Number 15 was once called The New Crown Inn, probably relating to the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1837.

Above. Victoria Tavern in 2006 

By 1854, the inn was being used as offices by the Kendal and Windermere Railway company. The railway had opened by 1847, and the offices served the temporary station that had been built there. When the station was replaced in 1861, the offices were sold off, and in 1864  number 15 became a Temperance Hotel owned by Edgar Robinson, and occupied by Bindloss Woof. Sometime between 1864 and 1869, the building again became an inn, the Victoria Tavern.

The tavern was known as on of the four surviving Jerry houses in Kendal. These sold only beer, ale and porter. In a police report of 1892, the tavern, under the ownership of George William Howells, was recorded as having three drinking rooms, five bedrooms, no dining room, no seating and no stabling. Since 1932, there were only 5 landlords in 65 years. 

The current swinging pub sign replaced a larger one that pictured Victoria’s head and shoulders. This sign was so large it had to be fixed flat to the front of the building. It was to be sold to a buyer in America, but was not taken. For a time it was fixed to the rear of the building.....whether it's still there I'm not sure.

Above. The Victoria Tavern's sign...not the original.

The inn still possesses the ornamental windows of Duttons Blackburn Brewery, which took over the inn from local brewer Jonas Alexander between the late 1940s and 50s. 1950, new ladies and gents toilets added to the ground floor. In 1954, the ground floor living area was made into a smoking room. The inn ceased trading sometime before 2015.

Kendal, White Hart

White Hart

Another notch on a Friday and Saturday night out round town, the White Hart was a regular haunt back in the day, and is still going strong today. Brendan Jameson once told me that the inn was at sometime known as Robbins Coffee House, though if he told me when this was, I've long since forgotten. Records state that the building was an inn as early as 1702, although it’s only in 1711 that records first note the owner of the inn when it was purchased by Robert Wilson for £248.

Above. The White Hart in 2006.

Between 1711 and the mid 1700’s the White Hart was linked with a dissenting chapel, a hat shop and a newsroom. The building seems to have gone through a number of uses, before reverting back to an inn.

Above. The White Hart's sign, 2006.

An 1882 Westmorland Gazette article states “in Gilpin Rents (Steward to Alan Bellingham of Levens) there is mentioned a purchase by the same Bellingham of certain rents belonging to the chapel of St Ann, a portion of which rents, £1 10/- 6d, was due from the White Hart Inn or coffee house.” This possibly indicates that a portion of the building was let as a (dissenting) chapel, though whom this would relate to is not known, and I don't remember Brendan Jameson telling me. There is some confusion over whether the chapel of St Ann was at the inn. Local historian, John Marsh, though it may have been situated at Dockray Hall, although he indicated that it had a rental agreement with the owners of the White Hart Inn. Dockray Hall disappeared at the time of Cromwell’s Commonwealth government between 1649-59.

Above. Yard 2, Stricklandgate, home of the White Hart. 

A newsroom, probably, the first in Kendal, in 1779, was frequently visited by Dr Symonds, Rev Caleb Rotherham (of the Unitarian Chapel on Branthwaite Brow) and the Rev G. Crackenthorpe, master of the Grammar school.

Above. Yard 2 viewed from Stricklandgate.

The White Hart enjoyed a reputation as a high class inn. However, with the arrival of the Commercial Hotel in around 1804, the inn’s fortunes dwindled. The inn’s trade was probably further affected by the opening of the White Hall Meeting Rooms (Town Hall)  in 1825. The Union Lodge of the Freemasons met at the White Hart between 1797 and 1804, when it moved to the Commercial Hotel. Two years later they were meeting at the White Hart again, before moving on to the Golden Lion in 1808.

During the tenancies of John Atkinson (1781) and William Maskew (1786), coaches stopped here from  Manchester, Liverpool and London every day at 3am and 5pm. A special coach ran from here every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday to Carlisle. James Webster, former butler at Casterton Hall, and sword bearer to the Corporation, became inn keeper at the White Hart in June 1803.

Richard Smith became inn keeper in 1813.

In 1814, a dance school opened up at the White Hart. Run by Mr Banks from Kelso, the school promised to “teach all the most fashionable dances now in practice.” In 1815, Mr Brooks announces in the Chronicle that he would be taking up ownership of the inn. Robert Brooks was inn keeper in 1821. In 1824, his wife Mrs Brooks took over. In 1833, the property was sold by William Petty to Thomas Sirr for £1015. 

In 1880, the inn was sold to John Booth, a brewer from Ulverston for £1750. Kendal Coroporation was the next highest bidder for the inn.

An 1892 report states that the inn had four drinking rooms, five letting bedrooms and a large dining room. It had stabling for 18 horses. 1904, the inn was owned by Ulverston brewers Robert and Peter Hartley.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Kendal, The Black Swan inn

The Black Swan inn,
All Hallows Lane\Beast Banks

The Black Swan sits on the corner where All Hallows Lane meets Beast Banks, with Low Fellside just across the road. The inn is one of Kendal's survivors, having been in near constant use since its first mention, in 1775, when Geordie Wilson was recorded as the landlord. After Geordie’s death, his widow Agnes Lily Wilson took over.

Above. The Black Swan in 2006. 

The Female Benefit Society used to meet at the inn in 1797, and until fairly recently, it still had a men’s only bar. The Black Swan catered for drinkers in five drinking rooms, had five rooms for let, and a dining room that could seat thirty people. As recorded in 1892, the inn had stabling for eighteen horses.

Above. The Black Swan way back then!

The inn was situated near one of Kendal’s more troublesome areas, but was frequented by travellers travelling West, as it is on what was once the main Westerly route out of Kendal. A report on the inn in 1909, describes the inn as follows:

"Doors, one from Bank Terrace, one gateway to back premises from All Hallows Lane which is locked every evening at six o’clock. Sanitary accommodation, urinal at side of house, urinal and wc in yard. Stabling accommodation for ten horses. Bedrooms, two for private and four for travellers. Distance from nearest licensed houses, Golden Ball Inn. 104 yards, and Angel Inn, 158 yards. Licensee has no supplementary occupation. The house is tied to two owners, Messrs Alexander and Sons. It is good for supervision and well accustomed."

Friday, November 24, 2017

Kendal, Cock and Dolphin

The Cock and Dolphin

The Cock and Dolphin once stood watch over what is almost a crossroads....where Milnthorpe Road meets Kirkland, Lound Road and Aynam Road. The inn, once a popular haunt on a Friday or Saturday night stomp around town, is now flats, converted a few years back, sympathetically retaining many of the features that drinkers around town had become familiar with. 

Above. The Cock and Dolphin looking North from Milnthorpe Road, 2006.

Brendan Jameson, ex leader of SLDC, conducted a large amount of research on Kendal's inns and public houses. When the Cock and Dolphin was earmarked for development the company involved originally had plans to demolish and replace the existing building. At first it was a foregone conclusion that this was going to happen....until Brendan got involved. The only protection the building had, was that it was just inside the Conservation area that envelopes the town centre....it wasn't listed and therefore didn't enjoy any or much legal protection. Somehow, Brendan managed to persuade the developers to retain the building, and work with the existing fabric that was already there. Luckily for us, the familiar, if jaunty, building has survived, and those of us that remember 'boozing' around town in the late 1990s and early 2000s, are no doubt misty eyed when we see the familiar bartisans at the front. 

Above. The old pub sign....alas no more!

Brendan told me that the name may Cock and Dolphin may have come from the dolphin on the armorial shield of the Dauphin of France, and the Cock connecting both to the heraldry of the French royal family....but, with a smile on his face, he said he had no idea how what the relation was between the French royal family and a pub in Kendal.

Above. The Cock and Dolphin in 2011.

The inn is first mentioned as the Cock and Dolphin in a story from 1196. Dickie Doodle rode into London with a charter from Richard Coeur de Lyon, to be given to the Burgesses of Kirkbie Kendal. He arrived in Kendal and entered the Cock and Dolphin, and promptly consumed too much Kendal Brown Ale. The charter and his mission were forgotten. Whether this building is the same Cock and Dolphin that Dickie Doodle frequented is not known...though this building in no way dates from the late 12th century!!

Above. An oblique view from Milnthorpe Road. Note the lack of bartisans.

The 1892 Kendal Borough Police Returns state that the inn had three drinking rooms, four letting bedrooms and a dining room that could accommodate 30 people. There was also stabling for five horses. 

Above. Nether Bridge and the Cock and Dolphin. 1954 floods.

A double stable with a hayloft survived for a numbe of years at the rear of the inn, as did another building, which was used as a pig sty during the Second World War.

Between 1873 and 1898, Cleasby Chorley was the landlord. Cleasby’s parents ran the Pump Inn at the top of Finkle Street until 1874, four years before it was demolished. Cleasby sold the inn to Whitwell and Mark and Co ltd for £5100.

Around 1898, permission was given for the inn to be rebuilt. Toilets were added at this point, as before this, anyone needing the toilet, had to cross the road to use the privy on the opposite side of the road. At this time, Henry Wiper was the licensee paying an annual rent of £100.

In 1983, a change of name to the Queen Katherine was proposed, but the idea was dropped. 

This is another fine example of yet another Kendal inn being saved, and preserved, albeit with a new lease of life.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

London Wall, London

London Wall

The Roman walls of London formed a defensive circuit around the city from as early as 200AD. The circuit stretched for around two miles, and was built after the city's fort was constructed in 120AD. In places, the fort walls were doubled in thickness and increased in height, forming an inpenetrable barrier around the Roman fort and city. The fort and its walls were developed for a further 250 years or so, until around 410, when the Romans finally left Britain. There were a number of gates in the wall, five in total, each aligning with Roman built roads leading to other areas of Britain. The gates were Ludgate, Newgate, Cripplegate, Bishopgate, Aldgate, and most were incorporated into Medieval London's later defences.

The construction of London Wall was a high profile project for the Romans, along with Hadrian's wall to the North. It meant that the economic capital of the Western reaches of the Roman empire were defended and secured against any uprising both by British patriots, and Roman rebels. 

The walls and gates were constructed of Kentish ragstone, brought from Maidstone in Kent. The walls in the most part, stood to around six metres tall and two and a half metres thick, with ditches in front of the walls for added protection. This ditch was around two metres deep and some five metres wide adding a formidable obstacle. There were around twenty towers spread all around the wall, spaced some sixty five meters apart on the Eastern portion of the wall's circuit. With continued raids by Saxon raiders during the late third century, an additional wall was added on the riverside around 280AD. 

Above. Tower Hill postern gate.

Situated just outside Tower Hill tube station, and built into the side of the moat of the Tower of London, this is in fact a medieval structure, widely believed to be built on the site of a Roman gate. The medieval gatehouse collapsed in 1440 due to substandard materials and a lack of decent foundations, and was hence hidden from view until its excavation in 1979. The rest of the photos (below) are of the remains found in and around Tower Hill.

The remains at Tower Hill are some of the highest surviving fragments of the Roman defences.  However, what can be seen here is not all Roman, but a combination of Roman and medieval stonework. Some four metres from the floor up (and buried to some considerable depth) is Roman, whilst the remaining height (up to ten metres) is medieval. Such was the strategic importance of the Roman fort, and the sturdiness of the Roman foundations, that the medieval builders saw fit to incorporate surviving Roman masonry into the walls of London in later years. 

The original Roman wall would have stood to around six metres high. As mentioned above, the wall was also strengthened by the addition of the deep ditch and large number of towers. 

We're quite lucky to have even these sections of Roman wall to marvel at today. Photos of old London show buildings utilising the Roman walls, with the ancient masonry forming parts of houses and wharehouses. After the 'modern' buildings were demolished, the Roman masonry remains were consolidated and preserved. There are some great photos of the Roman walls here A London Inheritance.

Above. Reproduction of Roman inscriptions found near the site at Tower Hill. 

To be honest, finding the remaining portions of Roman wall was more satisfying that visiting the well trodden tourist attraction of the Tower of London. It's amazing to think that these relics were here during the earliest and violent days of Roman Britain, and have survived being battered and dug up, incorporated into houses and other buildings, have witnessed their neighbours being demolished, and have withstood the constant development and change that has swamped London for the past thousand years. My next visit to London will undoubtedly incorporate a further walk around the other areas of the Roman wall.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Borgue Motte, Boreland of Borgue, Nr Kirkcudbright

Borgue Motte
Nr Kirkcudbright

A trip out to Kirroughtree Forest this week took me past Borgue motte again....a dramatic motte and bailey castle dating from sometime before 1160.

Both photos were taken from the B727 to the East of the motte.

Palace Isle and Stable Isle, Loch Fergus, Kirkcudbright

Palace Isle and Stable Isle
Loch Fergus
Nr Kirkcudbright
Dumfries and Galloway

Five years since my first visit to this enigmatic complex of earthworks remains, and I've finally managed to bag myself some decent photos....and here they are!

Above. View of Palace Isle from the North. 

Above. View of Palace Isle from the North. 

Above. View of Palace Isle from the West, showing the Southern extension of the motte. 

Above. View of Palace Isle from the North. 

Above. Stable Isle from the West.

Above. Close up of Stable Island from the West.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Kendal, The Dun Horse\The Gate of Kendal

The Dun Horse\The Gate of Kendal

Another of Kendal's old inns has been redeveloped, and comparing today's photo with one taken in 2006 (below) it's more than just a cosmetic face lift!! John Speed's map of 1611, shows the site of the Dun Horse with a building there already, but unfortunately for us, he doesn't indicate if the building was being used as an inn or not. 

176 years later, in 1787, John Todd took it upon himself to map the town....his map shows a building the same shape as the present day inn, but once again, it's not named and there's no indication that this is an inn or not.

Above. The newly rejuvenated The Gate of Kendal.

Finally, in 1833, John Wood named the building on this site as the Dun Horse Inn....so we know that the Dun Horse has been here from at least 1833....possibly earlier though, as Parson and White's Directory of 1829, names George Clark as the inn keeper at the Dun Horse. His wife Jane joined him as landlady in 1830. They stayed on at the inn until 1834.

Above. The Dun Horse as it was in 2006. 

We know of several other landlords and landladies that called time at the Dun Horse. In 1849, Thomas Bradley was named as the landlord. In 1866, his wife, un-named, succeeded him. In 1869, John Ward was named as the landlord, staying at the Dun Horse for 23 years.

 Above. The Dun Horse's sign in 2006.

The Kendal Borough Police returns report, dated 1892, lists Scott and Son, a brewing company from Skipton in North Yorkshire, as the owners, employing Septimus Longmire as the inn keeper. The Dun Horse provided its customers with a choice of three drinking rooms, five bedrooms, a large dining room with seating for 67 diners, and stabling that would easily provide accommodation for 14 horses.

In 1904, Whitwell and Mark, a brewing house based in Kendal, took over the Dun Horse, remaining owners well into the 1940s. They applied for planning permission to change the use of the stabling to that of 'tea room and service area' in 1935, possibly incorporating the building now occupied by the Joshua Tree bistro just down the alley to the side of the the Bellingham's town house that used to house Henry Robert's book shop.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Kendal, Coney Beds\High Graves

Coney Beds\High Graves
Nr Kendal

W.G.Collingwood mentions Coney Beds in his 1907 article "Three more ancient castles of Kendal". His comments "Another site, Coney Beds on Hayfell, was not visited on this occasion, but should be added to the list of Kendal castles" obviously point to the importance of this now vanished earthwork, a site that has long since mysteriously been erased from the historical landscape of the surrounding fells of Kendal. Unfortunately, all we have to illustrate this site now, are some maps and a single diagram of some of the features that were once visible within the confines of the earth ramparts that surrounded it.

Above. Aerial photo of Kendal and fells, showing location of Coney Beds.

Travelling West out of Kendal on the B6254, and then turning onto Hayclose Lane at the Station Inn, and heading North, will take you onto Hayfellside, East facing fells, overlooking Kendal out towards Scout Scar and eventually Morecambe Bay. About half a mile along Hayclose Lane, on the West side (left) of the road, the open fields between Hayfellside Barn and a house hidden by a screen of trees the site of Coney Beds can be found. These days the fields are criss-crossed with boundary walls and are grazed by sheep and cows. There's no indication of the earthwork that once stood here. 

Maps, over the years, appear to show the earthworks as fairly substantial, until 1971's map shows an empty field with no earthworks, only the name Coney Beds. It is thought that the earthworks at Coney Beds were destroyed when the common land above Kendal was Enclosed during an 'inclosure of 1815' whereby common land and open fields were walled and removed from public ownership. A trench was dug in the area soon after the destruction, but nothing was reported from these archaeological explorations.

Above. Map of 1868.

Above. Map of 1898.

Above. Map of 1914.

Above. Map of 1971.

By 1971, the earthworks appear to have gone, and only a 'place name' indicates the location. Coney Beds has alternatively been known in the past as Coney Heads and High Graves. My best guess is that there may once have been some rabbit warrens here, as at Mallerstang near Lammerside Tower. As these warrens are often referred to as the Giant's Graves, it's not a huge stretch of the imagination to suggest that in the past, the warrens here may have been thought to have been giant's graves. 

Above. Aerial view of the Giant's Graves at Mallerstang.

The word 'Coney' is an alternative name for an adult rabbit.....Coney Beds could well have been a collection of rabbit warrens, perhaps not a fortified site after all. This suggestion is provided with a little weight when a sketch of some features once found inside the enclosure is seen.

Above. Sketch of features found inside Coney Beds earthwork, taken from the Annals of Kendal by Cornelius Nicholson.

The oblong features look to me just like the rabbit warrens found at Lammerside....long lozenge shaped earthworks, used to farm rabbits for fur and meat. These warrens would have been protected with earthwork ramparts and fences, and would normally have been associated with high status houses....a licence was normally required to build and maintain warrens. It is interesting to note that the maps shown above, dating from 1914 and 1971, show the area to the North and West of the earthworks as "Deer Park", and the area generally to the West as "The Park". If this label denotes a deer park as would have been found in the Middle Ages, an assumption can be made in that the rabbit warrens were part and parcel of this emparked landscape. Another bold assumption could be made, that the land was emparked for the then owners of Benson Hall, only a two and a half mile drive North along Paddy Lane. 

There are other important hall houses in the local area, all connected with families of means and land, noted in historical records from the mid 1200s to the early 1600s, all of which may have been responsible for the emparkment of this area above Kendal. Skelsmergh parish, with its hall house and pele tower, belonged to William of Skelsmergh during the mid 13th century. Between 1230 and 1246 the land was granted to Robert de Leyburne, and his son, Nicholas de Leyburne was granted 'free warren' in 1301. Perhaps the earthworks at Coney Heads were part and parcel of Nicholas' development of his Skelsmergh estates. 

Cornelius Nicholson in his the Annals of Kendal, mentions Coney Beds at length:


Another exploratory fort, or encampment, called Coney- beds, is situated on Hay Fell, on the east side of Kendal, in the field immediately above the house called High Park, belonging to Wm. Wilson, Esq. It is nearly on the summit of the hill, and overlooks the vale of Kendal. Before the inclosure in 1814, its vallum and fosse were very perfect, inclosing a bell-shaped area, the upper end of which was 128 feet in breadth, its sides 208, and the southern end, which was semi-circular, 224 feet in diameter. 

About half way down the area, and on its eastern side, were two interior entrenchments, having a sort of bending street between them, and each of them having the southern end semi-circular. The less of the two which adjoined the east vallum was 42 feet on the north, 70 on the east and west sides, and 70 across the south. The other was 64 feet on the east and west sides, and 80 on the north, and across the south. Both of them had pits unequally dispersed (as is represented in the engraving), all of which, except the central one, which was round, were of irregular shape. The remaining part of the great area was smooth. This encampment overlooked the fort on Helm, and commanded a view of several hills in Lancashire, Cumberland, Westmorland and Yorkshire ; of the estuary of the Kent ; and, in clear weather, extended even to the mountains above Beaumaris, in Wales. This station was trenched after the inclbsure, but nothing was discovered to lead to its history. From its form it must have been made in the latter period of the Roman empire ; and probably was a place of temporary- retreat for the garrison at Water Crook. 

In the time of the plague which desolated the kingdom in 1597-8, provisions were brought to this spot by the country people, and deposited for the inhabitants of Kendal, which was their only intercourse during that destructive period, when, according to the following inscription from a stone in the Church of Penrith, 2,500 of the inhabitants of Kendal were swept away."

Typically of many Victorian antiquarians, a large number of earthworks seems to have been associated with the Roman occupation of the British Isles....Cornelius Nicholson doesn't fail us in this instance, and puts Coney Beds firmly into the category of Roman. My gut instinct is that this was an area used to farm rabbits, purely and simply....both of the place names suggest this....High Graves and Coney Beds, and even the sketch provide for us in the Annals of Kendal seems to suggest earthworks similar to those found at Lammerside in Mallerstang.