Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Week in Cumbria 4 - Wordsworth House

On the Sunday morning I visited Wordsworth House, a Georgian townhouse, in the Cumbrian town of Cockermouth, which was the birthplace and childhood home of William and his sister Dorothy. The family lived here in middle-class comfort while John Wordsworth, William's father, worked as legal representative of James Lowther, the Earl of Lonsdale.

William had a happy childhood here until his mother died in 1778 and his father in 1783 and the children were dispersed, William went to Hawkshead Grammar School and lived with a local family, Dorothy went to live with relatives in Yorkshire.

The house was lived in by many other families but finally it came into the ownership of the National Trust who restored it as a late 18th-century family home.

I was very impressed by the house. I used an audio guide which gave just the right amount of information. There were also a number of knowledgeable guides on the premises including a costumed kitchen maid. The Georgian kitchen was especially interesting - no electricity or running water in Wordsworth's time but all sorts of gadgets none the less.

The kitchen maid gave a talk on life in such a house in Wordsworth's time which was enjoyable and informative.

I loved the way the garden has been maintained/restored. It is packed with 18th-century vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers, and the River Derwent runs along at the bottom of the garden. It also has a poem tree where people can write poems and hang them on the branches.

A delightful place to visit and take in what life was like towards the end of the 17th century, well worth a visit.

I was disappointed when I visited the Wordsworth School at Hawkshead, it was closed for lunch and I couldn't wait until it opened. If I had checked the website I would have seen the opening hours. The village of Hawkshead is one of the most scenic in the area and has a very interesting church.

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