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History of Keswick

History of Keswick

History of Keswick

A brief history of Keswick

Keswick’s history dates back to Neolithic times as confirmed by finds of stone implements and weapons in the area. The 4000 year old stone circle at Castlerigg is evidence of settlements in the area and was probably used as a meeting place and for tracking the seasons.

Since 1276 there has been a market in the town of Keswick (from ‘Cese-wic’ – the cheese town), and cheese fairs were held regularly until the early 1900’s.

Medieval Keswick had been planned as a ribbon development along either side of the market place. By the 19th century these plots had been filled in as Yards supporting small workshops and cottage industries based on wool and leather.

Industrially, Keswick had been at the centre of the mining activities that took place in the Lake District during and after the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1. The discovery of wad (graphite) in a mine in Borrowdale, the availability of water for motive power, and wood from trees, resulted in the development of pencil production in the town.

The Moot Hall, the most prominent of Keswick’s buildings probably dates back to 1571 when it was used as a Court House. 
Since then it has been used as a market, prison and Town Hall.

Writers and poets have been attracted to Keswick’s relative isolation and natural beauty since the late 18th Century. William & Dorothy Wordsworth stayed in the town in 1794, Samuel Taylor Coleridge rented part of Greta Hall from 1800-1803, and his brother-in-law, Robert Southey, the poet laureat, stayed in Greta Hall for forty years. It was while living there that he wrote the famous children’s story, the ‘Three Bears’

Following the opening of the railway in 1865, Keswick increasingly became a fashionable centre for visitors in search of lake and mountain scenery. The population of the town is now 5,000, only a little more than the 4,500 inhabitants of 1901. The slow, but steady, increase in visitor numbers over the years has caused evolution within the town rather than the drastic changes seen in many other tourist resorts. Thus the friendly, small town feeling is still present.

 
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