Wood from the poet’s tree

JUST one tree fell in the grounds of Rydal Mount when the winds of Storm Arwen tore through the Lake District at the end of last year.

Fields and woodland nearby are still scarred by fallen giants of many different species. That one tree, a giant Cedar, is thought to have been planted by William Wordsworth. It is now being put to use in a way that Wordsworth – an early environmentalist – would certainly approve.

Huge slices of the tree were given to wood turner Jonathan Leech who happened to visit Rydal Mount shortly after the storm, and he’s now turning them into works of art, which will be sold later this year.

Some of the larger pieces were cut into boards and stacked for drying earlier in the year. These will be used to make smaller designs, such as candle holders, key fobs, pens and pencils. Which conjures the image of a 21st century poet using a pencil from Wordsworth’s garden to create new work. Other, larger pieces, will be made into bowls.

Jonathan is also discussing with the Wordsworth family, who own Rydal Mount, the possibility of carving a chair from part of the remaining fallen tree which is a prominent feature in the gardens now.

Jonathan, who is based near Wigton, has spent most of his life in the Cumbrian countryside and combines his other interests – cycling and walking – with searching for beautiful and unusual pieces of timber. 

Turning the wood

“All my wood is locally-sourced and is obtained sustainably, from fallen or storm-damaged trees,” he says. The wood is then air- and kiln-dried before being shaped by hand into a bowl, dish or platter. The final stages include fine sanding and finishing with mineral oil, to give a perfectly smooth finish. These processes ensure his products are happy in any environment, including centrally-heated rooms.

Jonathan says that his relationship with wood began almost by chance, when working temporarily for top Cumbrian furniture-maker, Danny Frost. Since then, what started as a part-time job has become not only a full-time career, but also his passion.

Cedar bowls

“My preferred style is minimalist, using a simple design which allows the wood to express its own qualities. This often includes natural edges, knot-holes, burrs, spalting, and other naturally-occurring imperfections. Each piece is truly unique.”

He has a previous association with Wordsworth, after making bowls and other items from a large beech tree which had to be felled at Wordsworth House in Cockermouth after the floods in 2009. The poet is an inspiration, says Jonathan: “I love his work, and I share his love of the countryside.”

Working with cedar is different, he says, as it’s a much softer wood. “It’s a gorgeous orangey-red colour and the pieces I’m working with are starting to turn a darker shade now. They are going to look beautiful.”

Jonathan’s work can be seen in several Cumbrian galleries throughout the North of England, and at an open studio art trail to be staged around Kirkbride, west of Silloth, on the last two weekends in September. He also takes commissions, and can design and produce items from a client’s own timber. 

Spalted beech bowl

Leo Finighan, the curator at Rydal Mount, is excited by the project. “I think it’s wonderful to be using the tree in this way. The rest of it, which remains in the garden, does look rather lovely there, so we are still deciding what to do with it. But we think that Jonathan’s work is beautiful, and we are delighted to be working with him on this.”

The pieces will be ready for sale at the Rydal Mount Christmas fair, and possibly also online.

Yew bowl

More information: https://www.jonathanleech.co.uk/

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.

Spring fair at Wordsworth’s home

A spring fair will be held here in the house and gardens at Rydal Mount, the home of the poet William Wordsworth.

The event, on the weekend of April 30/May 1, follows a highly successful inaugural Christmas fair at our historic house near Ambleside.

Moongazer cards

Stalls selling locally made crafts and other goods, cards, jewellery and much more will be based on the ground floor of the house, and others will be in garden gazebos. The entire house will be open for ticket-holders to look round.

The Rydal Mount tea room will serve coffee, tea and cakes, and there will be an outside caterer providing hot snacks.

Following feedback from visitors at Christmas, ticket prices have been reduced and will now cost £4 if booked in advance and £5 at the door on the day. Ticket booking is available on the website www.rydalmount.co.uk. Limited free parking will be available at the house and on the lane, with other car parking at Rydal Hall and Pelter Bridge nearby.

Tilly Mint silver

The house and gardens at Rydal Mount are also available now to be booked for weddings https://www.rydalmount.co.uk/weddings/

One of the owners of Rydal Mount, Christopher Wordsworth Andrew, the great great great great grandson of the poet, said that the Christmas Fair had shown how well the house could come to life with celebration events. “We are very pleased to be able to host the many talented artists and craftspeople here in Cumbria, but also to bring an entire new audience to appreciate the home, spirit and work of Wordsworth,” he said.

A few stalls are still available for booking; please email events@rydalmount.co.uk for details.

Lorna Singleton, basket weaver

The most Romantic wedding venue

The Lake District home of our most famous Romantic poet is to be a new wedding venue.

Rydal Mount near Ambleside can be booked by couples wanting to tie the knot in the house or garden where William Wordsworth spent most of his life.

Wedding guests will have access to the dining room and the drawing room here – where Wordsworth is thought to have penned his world famous poem, Daffodils. There will also be space on two lawns in the beautiful gardens for marquees.

Our house, between Ambleside and Grasmere, is on a hillside with views over Windermere and Rydal water and the surrounding fells. A focus for romantic literature, it was Wordsworth’s best-loved family home from 1813 to his death in 1850 at the age of 80.

Special features which will be offered to wedding couples include the option to have a tree planted in Wordsworth’s garden, or even a permanent seat in their name. And to mark their first anniversary, couples will be able to book a private dining experience at the house.

Marquee reception

Wedding manager Annabel Candler said: “Having a wedding in an historic place such as this adds the couple’s beautiful story to the romance of the past. This is a very special venue indeed. Rydal Mount continues to be owned by the Wordsworth family and retains the feel of a lived-in family home.”

Wordsworth was a keen landscape gardener, and the five-acre garden remains very much as he designed it. It consists of fell-side terraces, rock pools and an ancient mound.

You can download our brochure by clicking on the link below.

For further information and to arrange a tour of the house and grounds, email weddings@rydalmount.co.uk .

Come and stay in the poet’s bedroom

This year we will be welcoming overnight visitors who will stay at our historic house which was once the home of the most famous of the Romantic poets, William Wordsworth. And they will sleep in the bedroom where the poet slept with his wife, Mary.

The new Wordsworth Experience is a joint venture between Rydal Mount and the nearby guest-house, Rydal Lodge Bed and Breakfast, where our visitors will go to eat in the morning.

The owners of Rydal Mount, descendants of the poet, are working with Helena and Mark Tendall who have been running Rydal Lodge for three years. Visitors will have an option to stay at both locations, perhaps two nights at the Lodge and one at Rydal Mount. Both lie a mile north of Ambleside in the heart of the English Lake District. Only ONE night at a time will be available at Rydal Mount as the room is open to the public daily as part of the visitor experience.

The scheme was drawn up by Christopher Wordsworth Andrew, the great great great great grandson of the poet. He said: “This house is very much a home, and we have been looking at different ways to open it up to visitors. Our recent Christmas fair saw local crafts artists located around the house, in the drawing room, dining room, and bedrooms, and it was wonderful to see the place so full of life. We are sure that guests will be thrilled to stay here.”

Rydal Mount: welcoming overnight visitors

Helena Tendall, a former teacher who has a degree in English Literature, said: “This is a perfect partnership for us. We love Wordsworth and his poetry, and we are close enough to Rydal Mount to be able to offer a shared experience like this. We are very excited to be working with the Wordsworth family.”

Rydal Mount was the home of Wordsworth from 1813 until his death in 1850; his wife Mary continued to live here until her death in 1859. The house dates from the 16th century, and the interior features many of Wordsworth’s personal effects, furniture, and mementoes. Bedrooms which belonged to William’s daughter Dora, and his sister Dorothy, are also open to the public. The house was bought by Wordsworth’s descendants in 1969.

Breakfast at Rydal Lodge

Bookings can be made by phone or email only:  info@rydallodge.co.uk or 015394 33208.  Please explain you are booking for The Wordsworth Experience.  

For more information and a link to the Sunday Times article about the Wordsworth Experience: https://www.rydallodge.co.uk/the-wordsworth-experience/

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

Among those signed up to take part are Jane Exley of the Woolly Rug co, 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.”

Advance tickets £8 can be booked here: https://www.rydalmount.co.uk/rydal-mount-christmas-fair/ Or pay at the door on the day, £10.

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.