Young poets will get their reward

Young poets whose competition was halted by lockdown will be rewarded at last later this year.

The youngsters who entered the eighth annual Rydal Mount prize for young poets will be invited to an award ceremony at the house in the autumn term.

The poets from schools throughout Cumbria were invited to show their talents in a special version of the contest to mark the 250th anniversary of Britain’s best-loved poet, William Wordsworth. The theme was Milestones to mark both the special birthday, along with 50 years since Rydal Mount was first opened to the public.

The poetry competition along with many other events planned to mark the occasion had to be abandoned after the young writers had submitted their work. But Christopher Wordsworth Andrew, the great great great great grandson of the poet, and his mother Susan, have been reading through the poems and making their decisions.

“We will wait until after the summer holidays and then have a ceremony here where we can, at last, recognise the fantastic efforts that these youngsters have made,” he said.

Christopher with winners from the last competition

The competition is organised each year at Rydal Mount near Ambleside where Wordsworth lived for the second half of his life. Said Christopher:  “We thought that Milestones was a most appropriate theme and gave our young poets a very wide range of interpretations. It’s still valid as this year is the 250th anniversary of Dorothy Wordsworth’s birth.”

The winning poem will be framed and displayed prominently in the drawing room at the popular tourist attraction. The winner will receive a £50 cash prize, a personal trophy, and his or her name will be added to the roll of honour on the plaque at Rydal Mount. There are book prizes for the poets judged as highly commended in the primary and secondary school categories. Each entrant also receives a certificate signed by the family of William Wordsworth.

Rydal Mount to re-open thanks to Recovery grant

One of the best-loved tourist attractions in the Lake District, Rydal Mount near Ambleside, will re-open to the public next month with new facilities and a safer environment for visitors.

The house, where William Wordsworth spent the latter half of his life, and where he spent years landscaping the gardens as well as writing some of England’s most important poems, will open its doors on May 17.

Thanks to a grant from the Arts Council’s Culture Recovery Fund, work is under way now to give the 16th century house a modern facelift. Rydal Mount is among more than 2,700 recipients to benefit from the latest round of awards from the £1.57 billion Fund 

Improvements will be made to access and ventilation. New tables and seating will be installed in the tearoom, extending onto the forecourt of the house. And, throughout the house, there will be recordings of members of the Wordsworth family reading some of the most loved poems.

The Wordsworth family, who own the house, have plans for a series of events throughout the spring and the rest of the year. These will include bespoke guided tours, poetry readings, exclusive dinners, and an art fair.

Daffodils at Rydal Mount this week

Arrangements are under way to make visits to the house and gardens a safe and enjoyable experience. The gardens were open last summer and, when some restrictions were lifted, and the house was open for limited visits by prior arrangement. Now all visitors will be able to see some new exhibits, previously never displayed.

They include two portraits which had not been seen for generations. One is a framed portrait in oil of Wordsworth by Sir William Boxall. Previously only a study of this portrait had been available in the National Portrait Gallery. There’s also a chalk and charcoal drawing by Samuel Crosthwaite, the last known portrait done of Wordsworth while he was still alive. This shows Wordsworth as a wild old poet at the end of his life rather than the more familiar image as a traditional pillar of Victorian society.

Christopher Wordsworth Andrew

Christopher Wordsworth Andrew, the great great great great grandson of the poet, said: “We are thrilled to receive this grant from the Culture Recovery Fund, which recognises the place of Rydal Mount in our nation’s heritage. We were genuinely worried about our ability to reopen the house, and this grant not only makes this possible but gives the family and everyone working at Rydal Mount a well-needed shot of optimism.”

Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England, said: “Investing in a thriving cultural sector at the heart of communities is a vital part of helping the whole country to recover from the pandemic. These grants will help to re-open theatres, concert halls, and museums and will give artists and companies the opportunity to begin making new work.  We are grateful to the Government for this support and for recognising the paramount importance of culture to our sense of belonging and identity as individuals and as a society.”