Art and photography classes at Wordsworth’s home

TWO Lakeland artists will be offering tuition in the house and grounds at Rydal Mount this summer.

Liz Wakelin will be offering sketching classes in the gardens where groups of up to ten people will have an exclusive opportunity to learn and develop artistic skills in the glorious setting of William Wordsworth’s former home, near Ambleside. 

Liz Wakelin

And award-winning photographer Chris Routledge will run workshops in producing cyanotypes. He will lead participants through the steps of preparing the light-sensitive cyanotype paper, capturing digital images of the house and gardens, and then transferring that digital image to acetate in order to print the final work.

Weather permitting, most of the day will be spent outside, but there’s plenty of cover if it rains. Each participant will go home with at least one print; those taking part are recommended to download the free photo-editing app ‘Snapseed’ to their phones before the workshop.

Cyanotype print, Chris Routledge

The workshops will be available on various dates to small groups, the first on May 21. They will run from noon till 4pm and tickets include £10 credit at the Schoolhouse Tearoom.

Liz Wakelin, a teacher for many years with a Visual Art degree from Winchester School of Art, aims to encourage the development of a sketchbook journal as a way of recording the Lake District. She is a predominately a sketchbook artist with a background steeped in the outdoors. Her current project is to create a visual record of a year in Lakeland for a book commissioned by publishers Inspired by Lakeland.

The artist at work

She says: “My sketchbooks accompany me on most of my walks, both long distance treks and short strolls. Sitting and sketching immerses me in a location far more than simply taking a photograph and thus holds deeper memories of the place.” Her first class will be on May 28.

The curator at Rydal Mount, Leo Finighan, said: “We are very pleased to be working our artist friends on these exciting projects. We believe there’s nowhere lovelier in the whole of Lakeland than the gardens here, with their views of the hills and two lakes. These classes will be very special indeed.”

For booking and more details see: https://www.rydalmount.co.uk/whats-on/

Poetry contest launched by the Wordsworths

A popular competition for young poets organised by the family of William Wordsworth is inviting entries from school pupils throughout Cumbria.

The Rydal Mount Wordsworth Prize for Young Poets was established in 2013 and has to date attracted a range of remarkable and exciting offerings from young people.

Now the organiser, Christopher Wordsworth Andrew, the great great great great grandson of the Romantic poet, is launching the new contest after last year’s fell victim to the pandemic.

Students at primary and secondary schools are being invited to submit their entries on the theme of Renewal. The poems will be judged by members of the Wordsworth family, and the inspirational “Fire Poet” Philip Wells who is joining the team.

Ella Drury, latest winner of the competition

The contest, said Christopher, has been a triumphant success since the first staging of the event, drawing in thousands of entries over the years. He and other members of the family will hand out prizes at the award ceremony at Rydal Mount near Ambleside in the autumn.

“We have been so impressed with the maturity, wisdom and sensitivity of the young writers who send us their work,” said Christopher. “It’s gratifying to see that Wordsworth still inspires others. He resonates with young people today because he was an environmentalist as well as a great poet, and his legacy is so relevant today. And we are thrilled to be collaborating with Philip Wells, the ‘fire poet’ who does so much wonderful outreach work to take poetry to young people, and particularly those who are disadvantaged.”

Rydal Mount, still owned by the Wordsworth family, was the home of William Wordsworth and his family for the second half of his life, and is where he enjoyed the height of his fame and recognition as the Nation’s Poet.

A popular tourist attraction, the house and extensive gardens are open to the public daily. And there’s now a regular programme of events staged there, including poetry readings, talks, concerts, and a Spring Fair to be held at the end of May.

The winning poem will be framed and displayed prominently in the drawing room at the house. 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. The closing date for entries is Friday May 20, and details of how to enter can be found at https://rydalmount.wordpress.com/2022/03/16/entry-form-wordsworth-prize-for-young-poets/

Next year, which will be ten years since the competition began, it’s planned to roll it out nationwide to invite entries from young poets throughout the UK.

Meanwhile, the winner from the 2020 competition, which was put on hold during the pandemic, has been announced as Ella Drury, now a pupil at Barrow Sixth Form College. Ella was still at Furness Academy when she wrote her poem, Letting Go.

As the sun set, its smoky blur filled the vinegar-yellow sky;

I couldn’t wait for the darkness.

I saw the glistening stars begin to poke through the cloak of night,


And I knew that if I closed my eyes I’d be able to see you again.


I sat upon a grassy hill, in the middle of nowhere, talking to you,

because I knew you were up there, somewhere.


And as I felt the soft hand of the wind brushing against my cheek,


I knew that you were there with me.


You opened up the clouds and showed me the moon,


And as its soft glow shone onto the swaying grass,


I thought I saw your silhouette.

I could hear your inaudible whisper in the wind, but my mind saw it as illusion.


Why am I here? I know you’re gone, but I still need you with me.

Entry form: Wordsworth prize for young poets

The Wordsworth family are once again inviting young people at schools throughout Cumbria to enter their poetry competition. This is open to all pupils in primary and secondary schools and sixth-form colleges.

The theme this year is RENEWAL and may be interpreted in any way that the writer wishes.

Poems must be submitted as a Word document, double spaced and no longer than one side of A4.

Each entry must carry:

The name and age of the writer (not their school year)

The school that they attend

A contact email address from a relevant teacher at the school.

Entries should be submitted as an attachment and emailed to: poetry@rydalmount.co.uk

before the deadline of Friday May 20.

The poems will be judged during the summer and an award ceremony will be held at Rydal Mount in the autumn term. The winner receives a trophy, a £50 cash prize, and his or her name will be added to the roll of honour in Wordsworth’s drawing room at the house. The winning poem will also be displayed there for all visitors to see. There will be other awards for runners-up and highly commended.