Kendal Museum

The Lake District

Founded in 1796 by the inveterate Victorian collector William Todhunter, this mixed-bag museum features everything from stuffed beasts and transfixed butterflies to medieval coin hoards. There's also a case of memorabilia which belonged to Alfred Wainwright, who served as honorary curator at the museum from 1945 to 1974: look out for his knapsack and well-chewed pipe.

It's a typically fascinating mix of Victorian ephemera. Wandering its echoey halls you'll glimpse everything from Roman coins to Egyptian scarabs, Iron Age swords and handmade model boats, while the Natural History Gallery is crammed with a spooky menagerie of stuffed animals, including a great bustard, a polar bear that once belonged to the Earl of Lonsdale and a thylacine, otherwise known as the Tasmanian tiger – one of only 12 known specimens in the UK.

There's also a large collection of rare rocks and minerals, based almost entirely on the enormous collection amassed by John Hamer, a local potholer and amateur mineralogist.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby The Lake District attractions

1. Abbot Hall Art Gallery

0.59 MILES

Kendal's fine-art gallery houses one of the northwest's best collections of 18th- and 19th-century art. It's especially strong on portraiture and Lakeland…

2. Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry

0.59 MILES

Directly opposite Abbot Hall, this museum recreates various scenes from Lakeland life during the 18th and 19th centuries, including a farmhouse parlour, a…

3. Sizergh Castle

3.49 MILES

Three-and-a-half miles south of Kendal along the A591, this castle is the feudal seat of the Strickland family. Set around a pele tower, its finest asset…

4. Levens Hall

5.21 MILES

This Elizabethan manor is built around a mid-13th-century fortified pele tower, and fine Jacobean furniture litters its interior, although the real draw…

5. Blackwell House

7.38 MILES

Two miles south of Bowness on the B5360, Blackwell House is a glorious example of the 19th-century Arts and Crafts Movement, which championed handmade…

6. World of Beatrix Potter

7.53 MILES

This themed attraction brings to life various scenes from Beatrix Potter's books, including Peter Rabbit's garden, Mr McGregor's greenhouse, Mrs Tiggy…

7. Windermere & the Islands

8.02 MILES

Windermere gets its name from the old Norse, Vinandr mere (Vinandr's lake; so 'Lake Windermere' is actually tautologous). Encompassing 5.7 sq miles…

8. Wray Castle

8.87 MILES

An impressive sight with its turrets and battlements, this mock-Gothic castle was built in 1840 for James Dawson, a retired doctor from Liverpool, but it…