Discover the rich history of Sedbergh

How much do you know about Sedbergh? We’re very proud to be located in the market town of Sedbergh. Surrounded by the beauty of the Howgill Fells, the town has many fascinating historical stories to tell.

There is evidence that the town, or settlement as it would have been then, dates back to Saxon times. The oldest buildings that you can see today include the 12th Century St Andrew’s parish church (although much restored and changed since then). There’s at least one house in the town that dates back to the 14th Century. The area was crucial to the wool trade and was a staging point for commercial routes across the Pennines. Over the centuries it became known for sheep farming and the hand-knitting of woollen garments.

The ‘terrible knitters of Dent’

In the neighbouring village of Dent, women who were renowned for their fast knitting skills were called ‘the terrible knitters of Dent’. The name was partly because they continued to knit during church services and because of the strange rocking motion they used as they moved the stitches from one needle to another. Knitting was such an essential part of the local economy that knitting schools were set up in the area to teach young people the fast knitting techniques to keep up with the demand.

Farfield Mill

One of the key points of interest for visitors to Sedbergh today is Farfield Mill, which played an important role in the wool industry during the 19th Century. Fleeces from local farmers were spun into wool and woven into cloth. Spun wool was sent out to the hand knitters in Sedbergh and the neighbouring villages.

Farfield Mill is now a heritage centre and well worth a visit. The cafe is pretty good too.

Sedbergh School

Sedbergh School is an integral part of the community. It’s an independent public school that was founded in 1525 by Roger Lupton, the Provost of Eton College. It has grown to become one of the top independent schools in England with links to sporting and academic excellence.

One of the highlights of the school calendar is the Wilson Run, a gruelling ten-mile event across the Howgills by school pupils that takes place every spring. It dates back to 1881 and is still a favourite event in the town. Pupils of the school, residents, parents and many old Sedberghians line the route to cheer the runners onto the finish.

The birthplace of the Quakers

In 1652, George Fox, the son of a Leicestershire weaver, rebelled against the religious establishment of the day and set off on a journey around the UK as a dissenting preacher. He gave a famous sermon at what is now known as Fox’s Pulpit at Firbank Fell in Sedbergh, that attracted a congregation of around 1000.

The first permanent ‘Quaker Meeting’ was established at Brigflatts that same year. You can read more about Sedbergh’s Quaker connection here.

England’s only Book Town

Whizzing forward to the 21st Century, Sedbergh is now England’s only Book Town. After the 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak, the Sedbergh book town project was founded to encourage an increase in the number of visitors.

You’ll find specialist bookshops selling rare and antique books. We also have Westwood Books which is the largest bookshop in the Yorkshire Dales and is listed as one the UK’s top 10 secondhand bookshops by The Guardian. It sells a fantastic mix of antique, secondhand and new books. It’s a browser’s paradise.

Visit The Malabar

If you are planning a visit to the area, naturally we’d be delighted to welcome you to the Malabar which is the perfect location for your Yorkshire Dales or Lake District holiday.

You can check out our availability here.
You can read more articles from The Malabar here.

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