Christmas fair at Wordsworth’s home

A Christmas gifts and craft fair will be held in Wordsworth’s home at Rydal Mount in December.

The two-day event will feature some of the county’s best artists and makers of glass, ceramics and jewellery along with cards and prints.

Copies of poetry and other books signed by members of the Wordsworth family will also be on sale.

The fair – on the weekend of Saturday and Sunday December 11 and 12 – will have live music, mulled wine and mince pies in the tea-room, and it’s hoped that craft workshops will be staged in the garden gazebos.

Lakeland Stitch

Applications are invited from potential stall-holders who, if selected, will be allocated a place in one of the rooms in the house. The cost for the stall-holders is £50 for the weekend.

Tickets for the fair, which includes access to the house and all its exhibits, will be £12 (£6 for children) with a reduced price by booking online in advance. Advance tickets will go on sale via the Rydal Mount website in November.

Moongazer cards

Among those already signed up to take part are Jo Vincent glass designer, Letty Ashworth of Lakeland Stitch, and Sally Anne Lambert of Moongazer Cards.

The great-great-great-great grandsons of William Wordsworth, Christopher Andrew and Simon Bennie, are organising the fair. Christopher said: “The house and gardens are the perfect setting for a Christmas celebration.”

Those interested in having a stall, or running a craft workshop, are asked to email events@rydalmount.co.uk as soon as possible.

Wordsworth’s house re-opens with new treasures on show

The Wordsworth family is delighted to announce that one of the best-loved visitor attractions in the Lake District, Rydal Mount near Ambleside, is to re-open to visitors. And some previously unseen treasures will be on display for the first time.

The house where the poet William Wordsworth lived for most of his life has been closed due to the pandemic, although the gardens have been open for a few weeks.

Now the house itself is to be opened for limited numbers of visitors who must book online in advance.

It will be an opportunity for tourists to see the exquisite house and gardens where Wordsworth lived with his wife Mary and sister Dorothy after moving from Grasmere. But they will also be able to see some previously unseen treasures which have been added recently to the collection of the Wordsworth family’s prized possessions.

gorgeous view of house

They include two portraits which had not been seen for generations. One is a framed portrait in oils of Wordsworth by Sir Willam Boxall, the finished version of which a study can be found 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.

Rydal Mount

For many devotees, perhaps the most startling new arrival is the Wordsworth family bible, featuring in beautiful copperplate writing the date of John and Anne Wordsworth’s wedding day, and the birth and christening dates of all their children, including William and Dorothy.

Rydal Mount

There’s also Wordsworth’s own walking sticks, one with his crest in silver on it. And there’s an artist’s impression of the west elevation of a house which Wordsworth planned to build on what’s now known as Dora’s Field. A copy of the plans of this house had been hanging in the study at Rydal Mount, but the artist’s impression of the house brings this vision to life.

Rydal Mount

All of these were due to be put on display just as all visitor attractions were forced to close due to the pandemic. The curator, Emily Heath, said: “We are so thrilled that at last we can show these new treasures to visitors. We have been welcoming people to the gardens at weekends since restrictions were lifted, and now we are delighted that the house can be opened again.

“We want visitors to enjoy seeing the house and to experience the same peace, tranquillity and stunning views that William Wordsworth enjoyed.”

The house, which dates from the 16th century, was enlarged over the intervening centuries. It’s owned by the descendants of Wordsworth, who have been extending the collection of items on display.

It’s the house from where Wordsworth published the definitive version of I wandered lonely as a cloud, arguably the world’s most famous poem.

And visitors will see the couch on which he lay, as referred to in the poem:

“For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood, They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude; And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils.”

Wordsworth himself was a keen landscape gardener and the five-acre garden remains very much as he designed it. It consists of fell-side terraces, woodland, wild flowers, unusual shrubs, and an ancient mound.

The house will be open on selected dates through August and September, and tickets MUST be booked online via the website http://www.rydalmount.co.uk/

Only four people at a time will be allowed inside, and booking slots allow for half hour visits. The following health and safety rules are in place:

 

  • Social distancing of 2 metres must be observed at all times 

  • Visitors MUST wear a mask while in the house
  • Temperatures will be taken at the entrance
  • Access is limited to those who’ve bought 
timed-entry tickets in advance online. This ensures visitor numbers are kept within safe limits. 

  • In the gardens, please follow the one way systems where applicable. 

  • Hand sanitiser stations can be found at the entrance and exit. Please 
use upon arrival and when leaving 

  •  If you touch any hard services, please come to a hand sanitiser station and sanitise your hands immediately 

  • Please take your litter home with you and dispose of it responsibly 

  • Employees receive daily wellness checks to ensure they’re healthy and symptom-
free 
  • Carpark – there are car-parking spaces available and priority is given to ticket 
holders. However, we cannot guarantee car parking space on the day. 
If you would like to discuss anything before booking your ticket, please email info@rydalmount.co.uk 

 

 

 

Wordsworth’s gardens are open!

 

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THE house, tea room and shop at Rydal Mount are currently closed due to COVID-19.

But we are happy to welcome visitors to the gardens at weekends. These are the gardens planned and tended by William Wordsworth himself, and we have been working to restore and maintain them according to the poet’s own plans. We want you to experience the same peace, tranquility and stunning views that William Wordsworth enjoyed.

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Every Saturday and Sunday the gardens are open from 11am until 4pm.  To ensure your safety please book your tickets online, and when you get here, social distancing must be observed. Please see details below.

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We had to cancel many events here this year, including those to mark the 250th anniversary of Wordsworth’s birth. But we have found a wonderful way to celebrate his life by inviting many friends and celebrities to read his poems on a special website, www.wordsworth250.com. This has won the hearts of poetry lovers around the world.

Meanwhile, we are making plans so that as soon as it is safe to open the house, tea room and shop once again, we will be ready to welcome you back here. Please keep in touch via our website, via Facebook, Instagram, and on twitter @Rydal_Mount

Book tickets here: http://www.rydalmount.co.uk/

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We are greatly looking forward to welcoming visitors back to Rydal Mount’s gardens and your health is our top priority.

PLEASE DO NOT VISIT IF YOU, OR ANY MEMBER OF YOUR HOUSEHOLD, ARE DISPLAYING COVID-19 SYMPTOMS.

If you start displaying symptoms after you’ve booked your ticket, we’ll work with you to cancel or reschedule your visit.

In order to ensure your safety, we’ve put certain measures in place to protect you and to keep you safe both during and after your visit.

Please follow these guidelines:

  •  Social distancing of 2 metres must be observed at all times
  •  Please buy your tickets before entering. Access is limited to those who’ve bought timed-entry tickets in advance online. This ensures visitor numbers are kept within safe limits.
  •  Toilets are closed. Please check this link to find the nearest public loos in Ambleside, one mile away: Public Loos
  •  Please follow one way systems around the garden where applicable.
  •  Hand sanitiser stations can be found at the garden’s entrance and exit. Please use upon arrival and when leaving
  •  Employees receive daily wellness checks to ensure they’re healthy and symptom free
  •  If you touch any hard services, please come to a hand sanitiser station and sanitise your hands immediately
  •  Please take your litter home with you and dispose of it responsibly
  •  Carpark – there are car-parking spaces available and priority is given to ticket holders. However, we cannot guarantee car parking space on the day. If you would like to discuss anything before booking your ticket, please email info@rydalmount.co.uk

 

 

 

Flowers from our garden heading to Westminster Abbey

Flowers from our garden here at Rydal Mount, and from Dove Cottage,  will be selected over the next few weeks for a special event in Westminster Abbey.

The flowers will be made into two wreaths from the gardens at these two of William Wordsworth’s homes in the Lake District.

The wreaths will be laid in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey at a special ceremony next month, marking the 250th anniversary of the poet’s birth.

They are being made by Rydal Mount guide and artist Clara Li-Dunne who has been selecting appropriate flowers and foliage – including some of Wordsworth’s favourites.

The ceremony will launch a year of celebrations marking the 250th anniversary, following evensong in the Abbey, on Saturday March 7. There will be a reading by the Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, and the Rydal Mount wreath will be laid by the poet’s great-great-great grand-daughter, Susan Wordsworth Andrew.

Clara, and gardener Helen Green

Clara, originally from Hong Kong, has a degree in fine art and is a qualified teacher. She has worked as a guide at Rydal Mount for nearly nine years, and will be choosing the flowers with head gardener Helen Green.

The wreaths will be based on 12-inch diameter frames and will comprise seasonal flowers and plants from both gardens.

Daffodils will almost certainly feature, says Clara, though Wordsworth’s favourite flower, the celandine, is tiny: “We would need hundreds of them.”

Clara will use the foliage of the evergreen shrub laurel, which was a favourite of William Wordsworth, and is said to have been grown from a clipping taken from the park containing the tomb of Virgil near Naples.

“There will be choisya, sometimes known as Mexican orange, lilies, and especially ferns, which Wordsworth loved,” says Clara, who made a Christmas wreath for display at the house last year.

Choisya in the Rydal Mount garden

The Westminster Abbey ceremony will be attended by members of the Wordsworth family, friends and writers, members of the Wordsworth Trust from Dove Cottage, and the poets-in-residence who will be working at Rydal Mount during the year.

 

 

Dorothy Wordsworth heads to London

An exhibition first shown at Rydal Mount in the Lake District is to be displayed in London this autumn at the Royal Geographical Society.

Dorothy’s Room will be part of the Landlines exhibition, the inaugural show of the Wilderness Art Collective.

Created by the artist and researcher Louise Ann Wilson, Dorothy’s Room gives a new insight into the life of Dorothy Wordsworth. It was first staged last summer in Dorothy’s own bedroom in the house near Ambleside where she lived with her brother, the poet William Wordsworth, and his wife Mary.   Dorothy was an author, poet and diarist herself.

Louise Ann Wilson

Louise Ann Wilson

The new installation was created for Rydal Mount and used film, sound and objects brought in from the outside landscape. It was inspired by Dorothy Wordsworth’s Rydal Journals in which she describes “rural sights and sounds” in vivid detail and recollects the landscape and walks she was no longer able to do.

“In older age Dorothy gradually became house, bedroom and terrace bound, relying on memory to transport herself into the landscape she had once walked,” says Louise Ann.

“It was really radical at that time for a woman to walk in the landscape.”

Dorothy also brought “treasures” into her “quiet” room. The walls were hung with paintings, pots of flowers lined her window ledge, plants grew around her window, which framed the fells she once walked, sunshine and the “sweet sound” of a robin singing entered from the garden. William acknowledged the importance of her influence in some of his poems.

The exhibition last summer had a display of objects and artefacts on the bed, on whose pillows were copied scripts from the journals. There were knitting needles and thimbles, birds’ eggs, feathers, dried flowers and herbs. A repeating film of Dorothy’s landscape was projected onto the bedroom wall.

Dorothy's bed

Louise Ann Wilson has a Ph.D. in Theatre Studies from Lancaster Institute of the Contemporary Arts, Lancaster University, where she is a visiting lecturer. The Rydal Mount curator at the time, Peter Elkington, said: “This adds an extra dimension because it brings people to see Dorothy in a new light, in the very room where she spent a lot of her time.”

Now the project will be included in the show at the prestigious RGS in Kensington, and will showcase the talents of 15 artists in all, in aid of the charity Wilderness Foundation UK.

Dorothy's pillow

The Wilderness Art Collective is a non-profit group of creatives, artists, explorers and environmentalists whose work discusses the natural world. The Collective’s goals are to highlight the plight of the world’s wildernesses and wildlife; to act as a space for discussion about interaction with the environment; to encourage re-engagement with the natural landscape; and to promote preservation and care through art and other creative endeavours.

The new curator at Rydal Mount, Emily Heath said: “We are thrilled that a small part of our heritage here in the Lake District will be given a much wider audience in London. Dorothy’s room is loved by visitors who come here.”

 

Wordsworth curators say farewell to Rydal Mount

The curators of William Wordsworth’s house at Rydal Mount are retiring after 25 years in the Lake District.

Peter and Marian Elkington came from South Africa to take up the post and were employed by the descendants of the poet, who still own the house today.

marian and peter

They became popular members of the local community, making many friends among artists, poets and patrons of the arts, as well as transforming the House into a significant tourist attraction.

During their time at Rydal Mount they hosted weddings, poetry readings, dinners for Japanese visitors, and musical soirees including a night when two grand pianos were carried out onto the lawn.

gorgeous view of house

There were special events in the tea-room, which became famous for Marian’s home-baked cakes, and they entertained many notable visitors who loved Wordsworth including the late Terry Wogan and, more recently, the actresses Petra and Kika Markham (the widow of Corin Redgrave).

Film nights were organised in association with Zeffirellis in Ambleside, including a special screening of The Carer, starring Brian Cox, and they staged drama performances in the gardens in the summer with the touring theatre company Three Inch Fools.

Peter and Marian hosted many art exhibitions, most notably the launch of a new portrait of William Wordsworth by Hideyuki Sobue to mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of the poem Daffodils. And they launched a poetry competition for Cumbrian schoolchildren which has become an annual event, attracting poems from youngsters across the county.

P, M and Chris

Peter and Marion with Christopher Wordsworth at the opening of a Rydal Mount exhibition

Peter and Marian have added to the collections in the house with items they find at auctions and sales. But perhaps their most important legacy has been the development of the extensive gardens, using plans drawn up by William Wordsworth, to return the grounds to the naturalistic landscape that the poet had envisaged. It was a labour of love for Peter, and head gardener Helen Green, and they won awards year after year.

“Wordsworth wrote that if he had not made a success of poetry, he would have liked to have been a landscape gardener,” said Peter.

After coming to live at Rydal, Marian discovered that her great grandfather, Henry Poultney, had been an editor of the Westmorland Gazette in the 1880s, a post once held by Wordsworth himself. Poultney went on to edit the Birmingham Daily Post.

“We came planning to stay for five years, and stayed 25,” said Peter, who is more than just an admirer of the poet and his work. “You can’t help but be inspired by his spirit. Living here one feels the atmosphere. It’s been a very different experience from just studying his work.”

Their place will be taken by Matthew and Emily Heath who will start work in the new year.

Christopher Wordsworth Andrew, the poet’s great great great greatgrandson, said:  “The last 25 years seems to have gone by so fast. But over this period Peter and Marian have developed and improved Rydal Mount beyond recognition. We now have a fantastic tea-room and a garden that is regularly winning awards. The whole welcoming feel of the house and the reason visitors return year after year is entirely down to the hard work and love that they have both put into the house.

“Our whole family is going to miss Peter and Marian terribly. Over 25 years they have become close friends and we are sad to see them go. We wish them all the very best and hope they will come back to visit regularly.”

Peter recites to Marian