Our world heritage site: a place to sit and breathe

It’s rare in any summer that we have time to stop, sit and just appreciate the place that we call home, which was once a poet’s home. But this summer, following a gardening incident, I’ve been doing what the tourists do: sitting and looking and breathing the air.

Visitors talk of the tranquillity and serenity they experience here. As the world rushes headlong into chaos, they find that Rydal Mount – and particularly the garden – is a haven of peace. That’s not something you can package or label; we’re now in a World Heritage Site, and this is the heritage of our world.

Some comment that the atmosphere in the secluded areas of the gardens gives them an insight into how the location gave nature its voice in Wordsworth’s poetry. Others confess that until they came here, they had ignored the poetry and now found themselves drawn towards it.

RM natural garden today

“We visit lots of places of interest and a lot of them just become just another place to visit…another historic house,” said one family. “Rydal Mount has a charm all of its own and you really get a feel of what it must have been like to live here and be part of Wordsworth’s circle.”

And others don’t know who Wordsworth was. They’ve read none of the poems. But they come out of curiosity, or to escape the rain, or because the see the sign at the end of the lane. And when they get here, they tell us, it’s something of a spiritual experience. “Secluded” and “enchanted” are words we often find in the visitors’ book.

Yet this is not a remote location. It’s only a few hundred metres from the busiest main road through the Lakes. “But it really does feel like an escape into another world,” said a German tourist. “We want to just sit and breathe and let the madness of the world simply disappear.”

summer at Rydal Mount

And now I’m learning what they mean. We know how the house feels when all the visitors have gone for the day, but usually the gardens are a place of work, for planting and weeding and logging – and mowing. Now I’m forced to sit and rest, and reflect on the wisdom of the poet who, two centuries ago, saw the mess that man was making of his world. The lines were written in early spring, but they’re just as relevant now in high summer.

I heard a thousand blended notes,

While in a grove I sate reclined,

In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts

Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

 

To her fair works did Nature link

The human soul that through me ran;

And much it grieved my heart to think

What man has made of man.

 

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,

The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;

And ’tis my faith that every flower

Enjoys the air it breathes.

 

The birds around me hopped and played,

Their thoughts I cannot measure:-

But the least motion which they made

It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

 

The budding twigs spread out their fan,

To catch the breezy air;

And I must think, do all I can,

That there was pleasure there.

 

If this belief from heaven be sent,

If such be Nature’s holy plan,

Have I not reason to lament

What man has made of man?

 

A special guest visits the Wordsworths

Award-winning actor Brian Cox came for dinner with the Wordsworths at Rydal Mount.

Emmy-award-winning Cox, best known for his roles in the Bourne series and most recently as General Mikhail Kutuzov in the BBC’s War and Peace, was in the Lakes to attend a special screening of his latest film, The Carer, at Zeffirellis in Ambleside.

He  had dinner with members of the Wordsworth family at nearby Rydal Mount. One of the film’s producers, Charlotte Wontner, is the great great great great grand-daughter of William Wordsworth who lived at Rydal Mount.

“It was a memorable evening,” said Rydal Mount curator Peter Elkington, who hosted the dinner. “The creative spirit of William Wordsworth had brought together this group of very talented people.”

brian cox in THE chair

Brian Cox sits in William Wordsworth’s chair in the drawing room at Rydal Mount

brian cox with chris and lottie

Brian Cox with Christopher Wordsworth and Charlotte Wontner, descendants of the poet, in the grounds of Rydal Mount

Youngest-ever winner of Wordsworth poetry prize

A nine year old pupil at Ambleside Primary School is the youngest ever winner of the Rydal Mount Wordsworth prize for young poets.

Rowan Ashworth took the title when his poem, Wild is a child, was judged the best from almost 200 entries from all over Cumbria.

The fifth annual award, judged by descendants of the poet William Wordsworth, carried an extra cash prize this year of £100.

Rowan also collected a trophy, and his poem will be displayed in the drawing room at Rydal Mount where Wordsworth created much of his epic work.

The poet’s great great great great grandson, Christopher Wordsworth, who was one of the judges, presented the awards at a special ceremony at Rydal Mount near Ambleside.

even better.jpg

He said: “My family was so encouraged by the growing number of schools and entries coming in for this competition, which is now in its fifth year. The standard of entries is improving across all age groups and the winner’s poem this year made all of us burst out laughing. We look forward to continuing this event for many years to come.”

Category winners were Harriet Rush (11 and under) from Windermere School, and Connor O’Hara, 15, who is home schooled. Among those highly commended was the youngest ever entrant, seven year old Terry Wood, also from Ambleside Primary School.

Read Rowan’s winning poem here:

Wild is a child who stays out until dark

Wild is the child that lights fire with bark

Wild is a child with mud on their knees

Wild is the child who climbs up in the trees

 Wild is a child a long way from home

Wild is the child with no need for a comb

Wild is a child who wipes their bum with a leaf

Wild is the child who uses a stick to brush their teeth.

 Wild is a child who sleeps under the stars

Wild is the child who keeps tadpoles in jars

Wild is a child who fell out of a tree

Wild is the child with their own parking space at A&E

 Wild is a child that I would like to be.       

 

Award-winning actor to visit Rydal Mount

A Wordsworth connection is bringing award-winning actor Brian Cox to the Lake District, and he plans to visit Rydal Mount at Ambleside this weekend.

Emmy-award-winning Cox, best known for his roles in the Bourne series and most recently as General Mikhail Kutuzov in the BBC’s War and Peace, will be also be  attending a special screening of his latest film, The Carer, at Zeffirellis in Ambleside.

Brian Cox and Coco König in The Carer

Brian Cox and Coco Konig in The Carer

The actor hopes to join members of the Wordsworth family at nearby Rydal Mount. One of the film’s producers, Charlotte Wontner, is the great great great great grand-daughter of William Wordsworth who lived at Rydal Mount.

In The Carer, a comedy drama,  Cox plays a retired Shakespearean actor suffering from Parkinson’s that has left him frustrated and gloriously grumpy, at his country manor. His family insists he has a carer and he ends up with Hungarian Dorottya (Coco König) who has acting aspirations of her own.

Charlotte Wontner has worked extensively across documentary and drama as a producer and a production manager for many years. She established Hopscotch Films with director Clara Glynn and since then the company has developed a list of mixed genre feature films and produced award-winning documentary and drama.

After the screening of the film at Zeffirellis at 6pm (Sunday April 30), Cox will answer questions from the audience. Tickets are £15 and include drinks and nibbles at the reception plus entry to the film and Q&A. Book at http://www.zeffirellis.com/enquiries / 015394 33845

Listen here to Brian Cox talking about the film

Mr Wordsworth paid a visit

William Wordsworth came home when actors from the Theatre by the Lake paid a visit to Rydal Mount.

The cast of the play William Wordsworth, with director Michael Oakley, were invited to the house which features prominently in the production.

And John Sackville, who plays the title role, was filmed sitting on Wordsworth’s original sofa and reading the poet’s most famous work, Daffodils.

The visit was arranged by Peter Elkington, the curator of Rydal Mount, which was Wordsworth’s home for most of his life and is still owned by the Wordsworth family.

Among the actors were Emma Pallant, who played Wordsworth’s sister Dorothy, Rosalind Steele (Mrs Coleridge), Amiera Darwish (Sara Hutchinson), and Olivier award winner Joseph Mydell (George Beaumont).

Also there were the three youngsters from Borrowdale School who had taken turns to play Wordsworth’s son Thomas: twins Tom and Oscar Pye-Kendall, and Theo Fulton.

Young thomas's

The group was given a tour of the house and gardens, and invited into Wordsworth’s dining room for a cream tea.

cream tea

on the sofa

“For oft, when on my couch I lie,   In vacant or in pensive mood”: John Sackville reads from Wordsworth on the poet’s sofa   https://youtu.be/DpoxXLAnKMo

Rydal Mount takes centre stage in world premiere

We were thrilled to see the world premiere performance of Nicholas Pierpan and Michael Oakley’s William Wordsworth at Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake.

The play follows the struggles for creative expression in the poet’s life, his stormy relationship with Coleridge, and the death of his children, before moving to his beloved home for the rest of his life, Rydal Mount. It was here that he found both peace and inspiration, and we are open every day for you to visit the house he loved and the gardens where he began an ongoing process of natural landscaping.

The review here gives more details:

https://stageylady.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/ripe-territory-for-poetic-inspiration/

William Wordsworth is at Theatre by the Lake until April 22. Details: theatrebythelake.com

And you can watch a trailer for the show here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qNksyANVwA&feature=youtu.be

doras daffs

Daffodils from Wordsworth’s garden, and cream tea, for Mothers’ Day

A Mothers’ Day treat with a difference is being offered at Rydal Mount near Ambleside.

A family group of up to six people can book the dining room at the former home of the poet William Wordsworth for an afternoon cream tea on Sunday March 26.

The exclusive offer is being made on a first-come, first-served basis and guests need to arrive by 3.30, but the table must be booked in advance. Guests will be able to look round the house and gardens, and will receive a complimentary Rydal Mount booklet. The mother in the party will be given a bunch of daffodils from Wordsworth’s garden and a copy of the Daffodils poem.

dining room

Rydal Mount is the house where Wordsworth lived for most of his life, and from where he published the definitive version of arguably the world’s most famous poem, Daffodils.

The curator, Peter Elkington, said that Wordsworth often referred to mothers in his poetry and was interested in the concept of maternal passion and the love of a mother for her child.

“He illustrates the power and importance of this through various poems, including The Thorn, The Mad Mother, and The Complaint of a Forsaken Indian Woman,” said Peter. “These three poems all deal with a solitary mother and Wordsworth’s wonder at the mother-child relationship and its uniqueness.”

The Mad Mother describes a woman who sits underneath a hay stack with just her baby for company and who says:

Sweet babe! they say that I am mad,

But nay, my heart is far too glad

“It’s important that mothers don’t feel solitary, and we want to help families celebrate this occasion together,” said Peter.

Please call 015394 33002 to book the table. The cost is £15 per person.

daffs galore