Lonsdale takes its name from the Lune Valley (’Lune’s Dale’), which lies to the north-east of Lancaster. The Romans, Saxons, Normans and Danes all made an impression in the area. Apart from Lancaster itself, the main market town of the area is the ancient settlement of Kirkby Lonsdale (Norse: ‘Kirke-bu’ = ‘church farm’, ‘dal’ = ‘valley’; hence ‘Church farm in the Lune Valley’). The name ‘Kirkby Lonsdale’ was included in the Doomsday Book of 1086. The most notable feature of the town is the Church of St. Maryís, built in Norman times between 1093 and 1130.
Although Lonsdale College was built a full year after Bowland, the two colleges were designed in tandem. Lonsdale is in fact a mirror image of Bowland. In 1967, it was commented by the student paper Caryolnne that the “Staircases are narrow and the hooters attached to the water heaters sound like Dylanís harmonica (!)”