Ulverston is a town on the Furness peninsula, on the edge of the Lake District. The name of the town is said to be derived from that of Ulph, a Saxon landowner. It became the property of the monks of Furness Abbey, following the Norman Conquest. As with much of this area, the town was a popular target for raids from Scotland under Robert Bruce. It was burned down twice by the Scots and also suffered during the English Civil War.
The town was granted a charter for a market in the 13th Century by Edward I and still holds a regular market each Thursday and Saturday. After the building of a canal in 1796, the town’s prosperity was assured and it exported many local products to the American mainland and the West Indies.
The Market Place is still the centre of Ulverston today and there are many charming cobbled alleys leading from the square. The town still boasts many traditional shops and there are farmers’ markets and a food fair, in addition to the normal market activity. There is also an indoor market hall in the town. The oldest building in town is St Mary’s Church, with parts of it said to date from 1111. The splendid Norman door has survived and an interesting Elizabethan porch.
Looking down on the town from the north is the Hoad Monument, built in 1850 and somewhat resembling a lighthouse; it is, in fact, a replica of the Eddystone lighthouse. It commemorates Sir John Barrow, who was born in the town and became a Lord of the Admiralty. There is a good view from the monument. Another famous son of the town is Stan Laurel… the one who was always getting Oliver Hardy into a fine mess!. There is a Laurel and Hardy Museum in the town, filled with memorabilia of the famous duo.
One of the attractions in Ulverston is the Lakes Glass centre, where the visitor can see demonstrations of glass blowing and carving. There is a wide range of restaurants and cafés in the town, including one said to be one of the best in Cumbria. In addition there is a leisure centre and plenty of accommodation. The main civic social centre is Coronation Hall, which is a major venue for Ulverston’s Music, Folklore and Comedy Festivals.
Furness has many Neolithic remains, including a stone circle on Birkrigg Common, not far from Ulverston. There are many other ancient sacred sites, some which are currently being excavated. In addition, the town is in an ideal position for those wishing to explore not only the Lake district, but also Morecambe Bay and the Lancashire/Cumbria coastline.