Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Week in Cumbria 3 - More Wordsworth

The Wordsworths moved from Dove Cottage in 1808 and lived in Allan Bank in Grasmere for two years. Then they moved to the Old Rectory in the centre of Grasmere where they stayed until 1813 when they moved to Rydal Mount, a large house between Ambleside and Grasmere which has a large garden and fine views of Lake Windermere, Rydal Water and the surrounding fells.

This was Wordsworth's family home until his death in 1850 at the age of 80. Rydal Mount is still lived in by descendants of Wordsworth but is open to the public. It's a great contrast to the narrow spaces of Dove Cottage and judging by numbers on my visits is not as popular as a tourist stop.

I found it fascinating, lots of the furniture, pictures and fittings which Wordsworth would have used are still there. There are very good guides to all the rooms and a friendly guide available to answer questions and show you around if you wish.

Dove Cottage has the official notification of Wordsworth being appointed Poet Laureate in 1843, Rydal has Wordsworth's original letter refusing the post. He later accepted on being assured he would not be required to write anything. He is the only Poet Laureate not to have written "official poetry" while holding the office.

While Dove Cottage is the more atmospheric house and more in tune with our image of the abode of a Romantic poet I like the idea of the great poet being comfortable in the larger dwelling for most of his life.

Wordsworth stands out among the English Romantic poets, he lived a long uneventful later life unlike Keats, Shelley, Byron, he wasn't addicted to opium as were his fellow writers and friends, Coleridge and De Quincey. He didn't even smoke, I learned in Rydal Mount!

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