Old English Kent + dæl = "valley of the river Kent"; compare Goidelic Ken + Dál = "chief meeting place".
The woollen manufactures of Kendal have been noted since 1331, when Edward III.
is said to have granted letters of protection to John Kemp, a Flemish weaver who settled in the town; and, although the coarse cloth known to Shakespeare as "Kendal green" is no longer made, its place is more than supplied by active manufactures of tweeds, railway rugs, horse clothing, knitted woollen caps and jackets, worsted and woollen yarns, and similar goods.
Other manufactures of Kendal are machine-made boots and shoes, cards for wool and cotton, agricultural and other machinery, paper, and, in the neighbourhood, gunpowder.
The outline of a Roman fort is traceable at Watercrook near Kendal.
The barony and castle of Kendal or Kirkby-in-Kendal, held by Turold before the Conquest, were granted by William I.