AMBLESIDE, a market-town and parochial chapelry, partly in the parish of Windermere, but chiefly in that of Grasmere, Kendal ward and union, county of Westmorland, 25 miles (W.S.W.) from Appleby, and 274 (N.W. by N.) from London; containing 1,281 inhabitants. The name, anciently written Hamelside, is probably derived from the Saxon Hamol, signifying a sheltered habitation. The town is situated near the site of a Roman station of considerable extent, supposed by Horsley to have been the Dictis of the Notitia; the earth-works of the fortress remain, and various Roman relics and foundations of buildings have been discovered. It stands on the acclivity of a steep eminence, near the northern extremity of the lake Windermere, in a district pre-eminently distinguished for the beauty of its scenery; and consists chiefly of one street, lighted with naphtha, but not paved: the houses, though detached and irregular, are well built. Tourists frequently make this their head-quarters, as many delightful excursions may be taken hence, to view the sublimely romantic and richly varied scenery of the lake district. The river Rothay flows in the vicinity, and at the upper extremity of the town is a beautiful waterfall called Stockgill Force. There were until lately a few manufactories for linsey-woolsey, but they have been relinquished; a bobbin-mill only, is at present carried on. Stone and slate are quarried; and a peculiar kind of marble, of a dusky green colour, veined with white, is found. The market, granted in 1650 to the celebrated Countess of Pembroke, is on Wednesday and Saturday; and fairs are held on Whit Wednesday and the 13th and 29th of October, to which a court of pie-poudre is attached: the market-house was built about the year 1796, on the site of the former.
The inhabitants received a charter in the reign of James II., under the authority of which they elect a mayor annually on Christmas-eve; but he does not possess magisterial authority, the town being entirely within the jurisdiction of the county justices, who hold a petty-session every fortnight. The powers of the county debt-court of Ambleside, established in 1847, extend over the sub-registration-districts of Ambleside and Hawkshead. The township comprises 1583 acres, whereof about 800 are common or waste; the soil is of a sandy quality. The living is a perpetual curacy, with a net income of £80; it is in the patronage of Lady Fleming, and the impropriation belongs to Sir R. Fleming, Bart. A rent-charge of £27, of which £14 are payable by Ambleside below Stock, and £13 by Ambleside above Stock, has been awarded to the rector of Windermere, as a commutation in lieu of tithes. The chapel, situated in that part of the town which is in the parish of Grasmere, was made parochial by the Bishop of Chester in 1675, and was rebuilt in 1812; it is a plain edifice. The Independents have a place of worship. The free grammar school was founded and endowed by John Kelsick, in 1721; the annual income exceeds £150. Bernard Gilpin, surnamed "The Northern Apostle," was born at Kentmere, and Judge Wilson at Troutbeck, near the town. The residence of Dove's Nest, on the road to Bowness, was for some time occupied by Mrs. Hemans; and Fox-How, to the west of the town, was the residence of the late Dr. Arnold.
Extract from: A Topographical Dictionary of England comprising the several counties, cities, boroughs, corporate and market towns, parishes, and townships..... 7th Edition, by Samuel Lewis, London, 1848.