Grid Ref : SD 657921
The attractive old market town of Sedbergh, with its old world atmosphere, is not only set in the magnificent western dales of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, but is also close to the rugged eastern fells of the Lake District. It has developed at the confluence of four rivers, where ancient trade routes merged.
The town is dwarfed by the mighty Howgills, some of Alfred Wainwright‘s favourite fells. An historic town, Sedbergh has been a thriving community for hundreds of years, with a market dating from the 13th Century. The town was a staging point for commercial routes across the Pennines. Dating from Saxon times, Sedbergh still shows clear evidence of the influence of the subsequent Saxons, Vikings and Normans. The town is full of character from its cobbled streets to its historic houses, some of which show the hallmarks of the old knitting and woollen trades which made the area such a thriving community.
Sedbergh is famous for its public school, set in magnificent parkland on the edge of the town. There is a fine Norman church, St Andrew’s Church, and overlooking the town is the site of Castlehaw, an ancient motte and bailey castle built to repel the Scottish hordes. George Fox, founder of the Quakers, preached both in the churchyard of St Andrew’s, and in the nearby Brigflatts Meeting House, which dates from 1675.
Just outside the town is Farfield Mill with four floors of inspiration await you in this former Victorian woollen mill. It was rescued and restored by local people and is now home to 16 outstanding artists and craftsmen. There is a heritage exhibition which explains the processes employed in a textile mill i.e. carding, scribbling, tentering, dyeing and finishing to name but a few. Examples of these processes are displayed from the raw fleece to the finished woollen cloth. There are several looms – still working – including a 300-year-old Witney Loom with its flying shuttle, and one of the earliest of its type.
After the 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak, the Sedbergh booktown project was started in order to encourage an increase in the number of visitors. The company, Sedbergh Book Town, was set up in 2003 to develop a community of businesses involved in selling, writing, publishing and designing books and other publications.
For more information about Sedbergh, and the booktown project- see www.sedbergh.org.uk.
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