Windermere and Bowness


WINDERMERE and BOWNESS:  this digest covers the former townships of Applethwaite and Undermillbeck in Windermere parish, Kendal Ward, Westmorland, out of which the towns of Windermere and Bowness on Windermere UDs grew.

Origins and growth of the towns.  Although the settlements of Windermere and Bowness have merged into one built-up area, their historical origins were quite distinct.  Bowness was a long-established village, clustering around the late-medieval parish church; Windermere was a new settlement which grew up around the rail terminus from 1847.  Each was designated a separate Urban District in 1894, Windermere absorbing much of Applethwaite CP; Bowness being carved out of part of UndermillbeckIn 1905 the two were merged into one urban district.  The remaining parts of Undermillbeck were absorbed into Bowness and Crook CPs in 1935.  Since the 19th century, the economy of both towns has been based on tourism.

Acreage of administrative unit

Applethwaite township covered 9122 acres [3692 ha], of which c.3000 acres consisted of the bed of the lake; Undermillbeck township covered 4183 acres [1693 ha]. The common land of Applethwaite was enclosed in 1842 ; 2000acres of Undermillbeck common were enclosed in 1822.              


In 1801the population of the two townships was 843; by 2001 there was a nearly ten-fold increase to 8245. After 1847 the new railway brought a large growth: the number had reached over 5000 by 1901.  A note on the census form of 1921, when the figure reached 6495, states that it was inflated by the presence of summer visitors. Later records distinguish between residents and overnight visitors on the day of the census.

Land ownership

Both townships formed part of the Barony of Kendal which was divided into moieties in 1247. The manor of Windermere, which included both townships together with Troutbeck and Ambleside, was the head of the Richmond Fee; the manor house was on Long Holme (now Belle Isle). In 1442 Walter Strykland was granted the park of Calgarth, the fishery of the lake, and all lands of the king in the two townships.  By the 16th century much of the land was owned by yeomen families, notably the Philipsons of Calgarth, who had several estates. Richard Watson, Bishop of Llandaff (1737-1816), later had large estates. The earls of Lonsdale, as owners of the Richmond Fee, held the lordship of the manor in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Economic activity

For economic activity, places of worship, schools and other institutions, see:

Applethwaite and Undermillbeck before 1847

Windermere and Bowness after 1847

Additional sources used

Harriet Martineau: A Guide to Windermere in the year 1854 (W.R. Mitchell, 1995); C.D. Taylor: A Portrait of Windermere (R. Hale, 1983); W. Farrer, ed. J.F. Curwen: Records of Kendale, vol. 2 (T. Wilson, 1923); Jane Ewbank, Antiquary on Horseback; D M Butler, Quaker Meeting Houses of Britain, vol .II;

Compiled by: Mary Wane/AJLW