Our English Names
by Eleanor Stabler Clarke
Eleanor Stabler Clark (1896-1995), a birthright Quaker, lived at Kendal at Longwood. She was active in the American Friends Service Committee and other Quaker organizations, and served on the Swarthmore College Board of Managers from 1935-1971. This section is excerpted from Kendal at Longwood's 15th anniversary booklet called An Act of Faith, The Kendal at Longwood Story.
Part of the enjoyment of creating something, such as building a new community, is the selection of a name for it—a name that will help give it a personality, explain its background. What pleasure William Penn must have had thinking up “Philadelphia” to express his ideal of a city of brotherly love! (Painting to the right, by Elias Hicks, an early Friend, depicts William Penn signing a treaty with the Indians.)
So, with the Board of Friends who wanted a community for retired persons in southeast Chester County, there was the desire to express in its name the background of the group which would build it. The logistical starting place was to write to a Quaker historian for suggestions, so Lloyd Lewis wrote Henry Cadbury, who replied with a list of places in northwest England. The Board selected “Kendal.”
Then for the other three places that came along, the Board followed this idea and looked for names in northwest England in the area Friends called “The Birthplace of Quakerism.” Now, not every town or village in northwest England has a name suitable for a community in America. There are many places whose names sound delightful in England, but would be peculiar in the USA. But the names our Board selected were carefully chosen: Kendal, Crosslands, Coniston and Cartmel.
Our first story is about the name Kendal. Kendal, England, is built on both sides of the river Kent, in the dale of the river Kent, hence the town’s name Kendale, shortened to Kendal. Kendal goes back to England’s earliest days. The people of Westmorland County are a mixture of all the peoples who invaded Britain: the Celts, the Romans, the Angles, the Danes, the Saxons, and finally the Norsemen, who left many words that are in daily use in the area such as “fell” meaning a hill and “thwaite,” a clearing. Kendal is in the Doomsday Book as Cherchbi-Kendal, which means the church by the dale of the Ken. The conquering Normans used the southern form of what is now the word church, while the Scots used the northern form, “kirk,” so the Scots called Kendal Kirkbi-Kendale.
Although Kendal had existed as a place for hundreds of years, not until 1189 was it granted a market charter and it is said that a market has been held there on Saturdays ever since—[over] 800 years. It was given a charter for mayor and corporation in 1575. The plan of the town of Kendal is curious at first sight; innumerable so-called “yards” or narrow lanes run into the few main streets. The arrangement of the “yards” dates from the days of border warfare in the 1200’s when the Scot raiders would come sweeping down from the hills and the narrow entrances to the yards could be easily defended.
Kendal today is interesting to visit although tourists are said to be disappointed at first as it is a manufacturing town. The prosperity of Kendal was founded in the 14th century when King Edward III gave Flemish wool weavers permission to commence their industry at Kendal. Wool became the basis of the town’s livelihood and remained so for 600 years into the 20th century. The town adopted a coat of arms with a motto PANNUS MIHI PANIS, which is translated into “Wool is my bread.”
GEORGE FOX VISITS KENDAL, ENGLAND
George Fox, founder of Quakerism, first came to Kendal after the middle of June, 1652, in his travels around Westmorland County. He spoke in Moot Hall which was in the market place. He left many followers who started a meeting for worship, but their meeting house was not built until 1687. The present meeting house, the third, was built in 1815-16. (See photo to right.) Today this meetinghouse is home to the Quaker Tapestry Exhibition.
“The name of Kendal was associated with the fund raised in the first instance by Margaret Fell to meet any expenses over and above those which could be borne by the pioneers themselves,” writes Elfrida Vipont Foulds in her booklet, The Birthplace of Quakerism. The pioneers were those George Fox speaks of in his Journal as “Publishers of Truth.” Elfrida continues: “…known as the Kendal Fund, and supervised by Treasurers belonging to Kendal meeting, it faithfully performed a most useful service and acted as a model for similar funds until Quakerism became organized on a national basis.”
The idea of the first fund for assistance to traveling Friends being named “Kendal” appealed to the committee interested in building a community for older people in southeast Chester County, Pennsylvania, and contributed to their selection of the name “Kendal” on Henry Cadbury’s list of suggested names for their community. Not only did Margaret Fell’s Kendal Fund inspire English Friends, but the idea followed Friends to America. Philadelphia Yearly Meeting has such a fund called “The Pemberton Fund” which has assisted many traveling Friends of our Yearly Meeting as the Kendal Fund assisted traveling “Publishers of Truth” in the early days of Quakerism.
Kendal [England] today is known as “The Gateway to the Lakes” as it is only a few miles from England’s Lake District and travelers, vacationers, and others often go to the Lakes via Kendal. When [Kendal at Longwood's] new committee, Mary Stabley and her helpers, set up our sundries shop in 1973, they named The Gateway Shop for Kendal’s nick-name.