|A pencil sketch of Willaim Wordsworth by Henry Eldridge (ca. 1807)|
The great English poet William Wordsworth was born just outside the northern rim of the English Lake District, in Cockermouth, Cumberland on 7 April, 1770. His sister Dorothy was born there the following year. William attended Hawkeshead Grammar School, near Windermere – meeting Mary Hutchinson there, his future wife. In 1787 Wordsworth entered St. John’s College in Cambridge University. After he gained a B.A. degree and did some extensive travelling in France, Italy and Switzerland, William and Dorothy rented a house together in Alfoxton House, Somerset in 1797. His friend and fellow-poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge lived nearby in Nether Stowey.
As the family grew, and the Wordsworth household expanded (Dorothy continued to live with William and Mary; Mary’s sister Sara joined them; and the Wordsworths often had friends and family staying with them for lengthy periods), it became necessary for them to move several times into larger lodgings. But they stayed close to the location of their first home, Dove Cottage. So Wordsworth remained in the Lake District for the rest of his life. He became known as the figure-head of the so-called “Lake poets” – a group of like-minded writers who moved into the area to be near him.
|Dove Cottage is on the A 591, just south of Grasmere village and north-east of Grasmere Water|
|The front of Dove Cottage, the Wordsworths first home in the Lake District - it's now a museum|
|Front of Dove Cottage looking from the south - note the lime-washed walls|
|A north view of Dove Cottage showing some of the stone-work and the slate roof|
|The "houseplace" or "kitchen-parlour" on the lower floor|
|The Sitting Room and Study on the upper floor|
The photograph above (not mine, since photography inside Dove Cottage is not permitted) shows the room on the upper floor (above the “houseplace”) which Wordsworth used as his study. It was also used as a second parlour for light meals and entertaining. In the Wordsworths’ time there were no buildings on the opposite side of the lane, so they enjoyed an uninterrupted view from the window in this room over the meadows to Grasmere Water. The other three rooms on the upper floor were used as bedrooms. The smallest bedroom (above the "buttery") became the nursery for William amd Mary's children. Without a fireplace, the room was cold in the winter; so Dorothy covered the nursery walls with varnished newspapers in 1800 as an attempt to insulate the room. This newspaper wall-covering was later removed, but the museum added copies of those nineteenth-century papers in the 1970s.
|The guest bedroom at the back of the upper floor|
|Looking down towards the back of Dove Cottage from the back of the garden|
|This is me at the very back of the garden reading a binder full of thoughts, comments and snippets of poetry left by visitors|
|My good friend Tony Grant sitting on a garden bench at the back of Dove Cottage|
|Gate at the entrance to Allan Bank in Grasmere|Approaching "the temple of abomination" - Allan Bank - from the south-east Looking south-west towards Grasmere Water from the grounds of Allan Bank Looking east from Allan Bank Historic document - a map of Allan Bank and environs This is me on the central oak staircase in Allan Bank house
|One of the unfinished rooms at Allan Bank being used as an art space for visiting school children|
|Entry into Rydal Mount|
|Me at the east side of Rydal Mount|
|An impressive panoramic photo of Rydal Mount I found on the internet (in the public domain) |
To see a full-screen version of this image, click on this link.
|The thirteenth-century nave of St. Oswald's Church|
|The Wordsworth family graves at the back of St. Oswald's churchyard in Grasmere|
I turned to share the transport - Oh! with whom
But Thee, deep buried in the silent tomb,
That spot which no vicissitude can find?
Love, faithful love, recalled thee to my mind -
But how could I forget thee? Through what power,
Even for the least division of an hour,
Have I been so beguiled as to be blind
To my most grievous loss? - That thought's return
Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore
Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn, Knowing my heart's best treasure was no more;
That neither present time, nor years unborn,
Could to my sight that heavenly face restore.
Tony Grant in Grasmere
|Memorial to Wordsworth beside River Rothay in Grasmere|
There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore
Turn wheresoe'er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.