Kendal The Masons Arms Public House
Location : Kendal
Grid Ref SD 517928
22 Stramongate, LA9 4BN. Tel: 01539 724 200.
The Masons Arms inn is situated down Stramongate, about a hundred yards from the bottom of Branthwaite Brow. The inn has no front door, and is entered down yard 24.
The inn, plus part of yard 26 next door, once formed part of Ralphord Hall. In 1777, the property was documented as being a ‘former residence’, although there’s little or no history of its life before becoming a inn.
The front of the inn, as we see it today, is the result of changes made by architect James Hutton in 1908. The rear of the building is apparently pretty much untouched.
It’s likely that the name of the inn is an abbreviation of the Freemasons Arms, and the sign seen hanging out the front of the inn today, has almost the same crest, shield and motto as the Freemasons of Gateshead and Tyne used from 1671. The original sign, as seen on some old black and white photos of the street, showed two freemasons working. This was removed and replaced in the 1970’s.
Records from 1882, indicate that the yard up the side of the inn, led directly into the grounds of the Unitarian Chapel at the top of Branthwaite Brow. This right of way was eventually blocked off in 1900. Indeed, it’s now evident, that Thomas Gibson, owner of Ralphford Hall (the Masons Arms) who died in 1781, gave the building over to the Ralphford Hall trustees upon his death, for the use of the Protestant Minister, for a small rent payable to the Blue Coat Hospital in the town. The owners of the Masons Arms, the Unitarian Chapel Trustees and the Ralphford Hall Executors would appear to have been one and the same.
Records name the first licensee of the inn as Thomas Derome, in 1826.
In around 1892, records show that the inn had stabling for ten horses, two drinking rooms, two bedrooms and one dining room able to seat up to 50 people.
In 1997, under the ownership of brewers Whitbread, the inn underwent major refurbishment.
Words and photos by Matthew Emmott.
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