The village of Cartmel is best known for its great priory church. Cartmel Priory was originally an Augustinian established founded during the reign of Richard the Lionheart. The building remaining today was originally the church of the priory; the only part to survive the dissolution of the monasteries in the reign of Henry VIII. The 12th Century building is in the Transitional Norman style and has a uniquely constructed tower, its upper portion having been placed diagonally on the original Norman section. The East Window is quite magnificent and there are some fascinating carvings on the early 15th Century misericords.
There are some interesting carved tombs in the church and many of the gravestones on the floor commemorate those swept away by the treacherous tides of Morecambe Bay, not far to the west of the village.
Cartmel village is an attractive little place with cobbled streets around a market square, where there are frequent antiques and collectibles fairs. There are several small crafts and other shops.
Not far from Cartmel, closer to the seaside resort of Grange-over-Sands, is the country house and estate of Holker Hall with its magnificent deer park. The estate also houses the Lakeland Motor Museum.