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Abbot Hall Art Gallery
Ranked #9 of 40 things to do in Kendal
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Abbot Hall was designed as a opulent house by architect John Carr of York in 1759 for Colonel George Wilson of Dallam Tower. Recognised as Kendal's finest building, it was lived in by a succession of different families over the next century. It was purchased by the Kendal Corporation in 1896 for £3,750. Together with the Castle and the Parish Church, Abbot Hall was the only Grade I listed building in Kendal. By the 1950s it was almost derelict and threatened with demolition until a group of local people formed a charitable trust and raised money to save it. It opened as a public art gallery in 1962. Today Kendal’s finest historic house is an award winning art gallery. Our exhibitions showcase a variety of works by a wealth of international artists. The Georgian period rooms allow you to glimpse what life was like in another time and provide views of the River Kent and Kendal Castle.
Useful Information: Food available for purchase, Wheelchair access, Stairs / elevator, Activities for young children, Activities for older children
Level Contributor
26 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 52 helpful votes
Reviewed October 31, 2013

It started to rain whilst wandering around Kendal so we ducked into the Abbot Hall .Lots of interesting paintings and a beautiful building to hang them in . Quite an eclectic mix of old and new and it kept us occupied for over an hour

Visited October 2013
Thank snozzers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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117 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
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English first
Brighton, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
55 reviews
30 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“my first visit”
Reviewed October 27, 2013

House is Georgian but began as a building where the church could store bits and pieces on the way to York, the church is next door. Also part of the complex is the stable block which houses the Museum of Westmoreland Life and Industry(but that's another review).
The gallery has a tearoom serving light lunches,and teatime cakes etc very good, does what it says on the tin,well served (very nice pot of tea). Modern, fresh decor, loos , no steps.

Steps up the the gallery, not sure if there is disabled access, inside no lift but disabled access ,ask the staff. Well staffed on the reception desk with friendly approachable staff.

Permanent exhibition, downstairs Loutherberg local scenes of Windermere, Romney's and Romantic Lakes Artists,the Netherlandish tryptych of Lady Ann Clifford (great for historians and Netherlandish specialists, I loved it!) An interesting portrait by Kurt Schwitters of a local cafe owner and a landscape of the Lion and the Lamb at Grasmere. Apparantly Schwitters stayed in Ambleside, which I didn't know. The Romneys are housed in appropriate Georgian setting(furniture etc) which is lovely.
Upstairs the moderns; Piper, Craxton,Nicholson and a Lowry seascape (which is labelled as 'showing the isolation of the artist' I have to disagree with this I'm afraid.) The little Picasso bronze is a joy. Moving on to the next rooms various post impressionist paintings focused on friends and influences of the Bloomsbury Group,then the Radev Collection itself, this was accumulated by Radev from the collections of Eddy Sackville-West.(cousin of Vita)and Eardley Knollys as well as his own aquisitions .A lovely very personal collection.The Art Gallery is a joy to visit .Entrance payable but you can get a joint ticket for the Museum which saves quite a lot

Visited October 2013
Thank pencooper
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Surbiton, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
44 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Impressive 17th century triptych”
Reviewed October 26, 2013

Nice location for a gallery that is housed in an old stately home. Impressive collection of art by local artist George Romney, but the highlight for me was the 17th century triptych 'The Great Picture' in the downstairs gallery, which was a huge oil painting on panels depicting the life of Lady Anne Clifford. Enjoyable way to spend an hour or so.

Visited October 2013
1 Thank Owlzthat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Colwyn Bay, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
154 reviews
68 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 83 helpful votes
“Very expensive especially for such a small gallery”
Reviewed October 20, 2013

Entry to this gallery is expensive ( no reductions) and if you have visited more than once you will find ( as we have) that the whole ground floor is taken up by an unchanging permanent exhibition largely for those interested in 18th art inspired by local history. We saw the touring collection of Bloomsbury and after works in the Radev collection. Exhibition is reasonably interesting, but quality of work is variable. Captions of the works on show are tiny which unfortunately reflects the trend of most galleries With entry prices like these its a surprise you have to pay to park.The road to the gallery crosses the river about 5 times in the middle of the town. Not sure its worth the effort or expense. We would be surprised if you stayed long... under an hour , unless you go to the café.

Visited October 2013
Thank Charles C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cullercoats, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
117 reviews
35 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
“My favourite art gallery”
Reviewed September 1, 2013

This art gallery is a real gem. The permanent exhibitions are well worth viewing (it includes one of my favourite pictures of all time, of the Gower family by George Romney, plus work by Schwitters). There is always a wonderful special exhibition to view. This time it was the work of Graham Sutherland - amazing. This is a must for me whenever I visit the Lake District. Only problem is Kendal's dreadful one-way system but it's really worth persevering and there is parking available outside the gallery plus a good tea room (show your parking ticket receipt to claim a discount0

Visited August 2013
Thank HB2981
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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