At the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII the Duchy of Lancaster acquired (amongst others) the Cartmel and Conishead Priories. With them went an obligation to appoint guides for travellers over the sands of Morecambe Bay, one over the Leven Sands, in the Estuary of the River Leven between Ulverston and Cark and the other over the Kent Sands in the Kent Estuary under the Cartmel Priory between Kents Bank and Hest Bank.
Since the dissolution the Duchy has appointed two guides formally by Letters Patent but in more modern times through the Chancellor for the Duchy of Lancaster. The first of such appointments was made on the 8th February 1538. The first Kent Sands guide was apparently unwilling to occupy the office and received fifty three shillings and four pence in wages by agreement with the auditor and receiver. The other guide or “carter” had a fee of ten marks which was the equivalent of six pounds thirteen shillings and four pence and this amount was paid up to the 17th Century. These are currently fifteen pounds and forty pounds.
Originally the Duchy enjoyed the revenue of the late monasteries possessions but these have long since been granted away. There are also some lands occupied by the guides from which they could receive revenue and the guides also have a house each. These are positioned at good access points for access on to the Bay. The house at Kents Bank has approximately twelve acres of land.
In 1873 the Duchy held an enquiry headed by John Fell one of the local Justices of the Peace into the behaviour of one of the guides. Following this the Duchy set up a committee of local justices to control the guides and in 1876 asked the Charity Commissioners to prepare a scheme. This was done on the 6th November in 1877 with the Chancellor of the Duchy as the Trustee. On the 19th May 1882 there was a further order discharging the Chancellor of his Trusteeship and appointed 3 local people as Trustees. The Trustees were responsible for the administration of the Trust and the guides as well as arranging for the appointment and removal of guides. The appointments have always been recommended to the Duchy of Lancaster who made the final appointment. This was changed in May 2012 and the Trustees have now been charged with the appointment and removal of guides in addition to their other duties.