The Kendal Project Lancaster University Home Page
Department of Religious Studies, Furness College, Lancaster University LA1 4YG.

Why Kendal?

The question ‘why Kendal’ inevitably arises. Once we had decided to undertake a locality study (for reasons briefly explored below), we had to select a town. It need not have been Kendal, but for the following reasons, it was.

  • First, practicality. The three project organizers are all employed at Lancaster University, and continued about their normal teaching and administrative duties throughout the term of the Project. So the chosen locality had to be within easy reach. It was also an advantage that we all had some prior knowledge of the town as well as contacts within it; this helped considerably in planning and executing the project.

  • Second, size. With its population of just under 28,000 Kendal was just about the right size to research with the resources at our disposal. We knew that it had a good number of churches and chapels, enough to give us a good sense of the variety within this domain. We also knew that it had some ‘alternative’ forms of spiritual practice – though we were still suprised by quite how much we discovered when we started the research.

  • Third, boundedness. Kendal is a fairly self-contained town. With the nearest towns being ten to twenty-five miles away (Windermere, Penrith, Lancaster), we expected that most people would conduct the most important parts of their religious or spiritual lives within the town rather than travelling elsewhere (especially where regular activities like churchgoing were concerned).

  • Fourth, homogeneity. Kendal has no significant immigrant communities. Whilst it would have been interesting in its own right to study a more multi-cultural town, it would also have made things considerably more complex. Since we were treading new ground as it was, and since we had limited time and resources, we were happy to have one less complicating factor.

  • Fifth, good internal communications. We were anxious from the start not to treat the people of Kendal as so much ‘research fodder’. We wanted to work co-operatively, and hoped that people could feel some sense of ownership and participation in the Project. In this we were greatly aided by Kendal’s good communications, not least through its single high-circulation newspaper, The Westmorland Gazette, as well as its many informal networks of information-exchange.


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