Go wild this summer like Beatrix and William

20 Jul
SONY DSC

Dressing up Georgian-style at Wordsworth House

Beatrix Potter, William Wordsworth’s fellow Lakeland wild child, was born 150 years ago this summer, and we’re celebrating with a packed programme of family events and activities she and William would have loved.

Come rain or shine, there’s something exciting going on every day at Wordsworth House and Garden (except Friday, when we’re closed) from Sunday 24 July to Sunday 4 September.

On Thursday 28 July, from 11.30am to 3.30pm, we’re holding a special party in the garden to mark the day Beatrix was born – if it rains, we’ll move everything inside. There’ll be storytelling, lots of fun things to do and free birthday cake. Children bringing a picnic lunch or tea plus a favourite toy can get the whole family in free to enjoy the festivities.

Do something different…

Whatever day you visit, you can dress up as a Georgian, play with toys like William’s, make up a story with our giant magnetic quilt game, follow a trail round the house based on Beatrix’s characters, or simply let off steam in our lovely heritage garden.

On Saturdays and Sundays, children can delve into the nooks and crannies of this amazing house or hunt for bugs in the garden with the help of a family explorer bag.

Mondays are the day to join the costumed servants in the kitchen, roll up your sleeves and have a go at making clapbread. Just drop in any time between 11.30am and 3.30pm.

On Tuesdays, if it’s sunny, our modern-day ‘Miss Potter’ will be in the garden reading some of her little books. Take a seat on our rugs – or if it’s wet, get cosy by the kitchen fire – for The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin at 11.30am, or The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle at 2.30pm.

On Tuesday 2 and 16 August, our artist-in-residence, Sarah Kate Smith, will be drawing the kind of domestic and garden scenes Beatrix loved, so why not join her for some sketching? We’ll supply the materials, and all ages and abilities are welcome to drop in between 11.30am and 3.30pm.

Kate drawing

Sarah Kate Smith sketching in the garden

Find out about the weird world of Georgian leisure on Wednesdays with a special 10-minute talk by one of the servants, then have a game of skittles in the courtyard or play with traditional toys in the children’s bedroom. Talks are at 11.30am and 2.30pm.

On Thursdays the theme is wild art: join us in the cellar to make stick figures, crazy pinecone creatures or colourful animal masks – all you need to bring is your imagination.

Meanwhile, grown-ups can enjoy our new exhibition, Beatrix Potter and a Love of the Northern Lakes, which reveals the local places that inspired her.

Whatever the weather, we look forward to seeing you at Wordsworth House and Garden this summer!

Why Squirrel Nutkin owes his life to the North Lakes

14 Jul
The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin1903 SN14 7.7.14

Nutkin and friends fishing on Derwentwater. © Frederick Warne & Co. 1903, 2002

Our new exhibition at Wordsworth House and Garden, in Cockermouth, reveals how some of Beatrix Potter’s best-loved characters own their existence to the northern Lake District.

Beatrix, who was born 150 years ago this month, is more usually associated with the area around Hill Top Farm, Near Sawrey, close to Windermere, where she wrote several of her children’s books and devoted her later life farming and breeding Herdwick sheep.

But, without the early family holidays she spent in the north Lakes, around Keswick and Derwentwater, she might never have written the world-famous tales of Squirrel Nutkin, Benjamin Bunny and Mrs Tiggy-winkle, the hedgehog.

The stories behind their creation are told in Beatrix Potter and a Love of the Northern Lakes, which opens here, at poet William Wordsworth’s childhood home, on Saturday. The exhibition includes several of her original illustrations together with a selection of photographs taken in the area by her father, Rupert.

Beatrix sketching on Derwentwater 1903 by Rupert Potter. © The Cotsen Collection

Beatrix sketching on Derwentwater 1903 by Rupert Potter. © The Cotsen Collection

Zoe Gilbert, our Visitor Experience Manager, said: “Although Beatrix was born almost 100 years after William and wrote children’s stories rather than poetry, they had more in common, as writers and early conservationists, than many people realise.

“Like William, Beatrix was profoundly influenced by the time she spent in this beautiful part of the Lake District, so we’re delighted to be marking her anniversary with this very special exhibition. The local places she visited, the views she admired and the wildlife she observed inspired some of her most popular books.”

Admission to the exhibition, which runs until the end of October, is free with entry to the house and garden.

We’re also holding Beatrix-themed talks, art classes, storytelling sessions and family events throughout the summer.

On Thursday 28 July – the 150th anniversary of the day she was born – we’re hosting a birthday picnic for families, from 11.30am to 3.30pm. There will be storytelling, activities and free birthday cake, and children bringing a picnic lunch or tea plus a favourite toy will get the whole family in free.

For more information on our full programme of Beatrix Potter events and activities for adults and children, visit our website.

William’s garden is blooming lovely

23 Jun

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High summer has always been a glorious time in the heritage garden that helped inspire William Wordsworth to become a poet, and, despite suffering severe flooding last December, this year is no different.

Thanks to the tireless work of head gardener Amanda Thackeray and her team, every corner is once again filled with heady scents and vibrant colours.

The profusion of old-fashioned shrub roses has to be seen – and smelt – to be believed. The large pink, white and crimson blooms of Rosa Mundi, which dates back to the 12th century, jostle for space alongside the crimson rose of Lancaster, also known as the apothecary’s rose, and Quatre Saisons, one of the oldest roses, which has an unusual second flush of flowers in late summer.

Amanda says: ‘It’s taken a tremendous amount of effort, but I’m thrilled to say the garden is looking lovely. And with the roses in bloom, it’s the perfect time to visit. It’s difficult to imagine now that on 5 December the whole thing was engulfed by several feet of muddy, silty water.

‘The flood cost us a lot of plants and left us with a huge amount of cleaning up and replanting. A few areas are still awaiting replanting with herbs, but the bulk of the work is done now and the rest will happen shortly.’

Wordsworth House’s flood ravaged back garden last December

The flood ravaged back garden at Wordsworth House

Amanda continues: ‘One of my favourite sights at the moment is the shrub rose Burnet bursting into bloom along the terrace walk where William and his sister Dorothy loved to play. It really is beautiful with its masses of creamy-white flowers, and once the flowers are finished they’re followed by sumptuous black hips.’

Our head gardener Amanda Thackeray

Wordsworth House head gardener Amanda Thackeray smelling a rose

Amanda is very proud of her colourful geraniums too. She says: ‘We have everything from subtle white to cool shades of blue and a whole array of pinks. Geraniums are an amazing genus as they flower for a long period. My particular favourite is the shocking pink Geranium Patricia.

‘I also love Valeriana officinalis, or common valerian, which has heads of sweetly scented pinkish-white flowers and pops up throughout the garden.’

Seven brilliant reasons to visit Wordsworth House

8 Jun

June is a wonderful time to be out and about in the Lake District, and there are few better ways to spend a day than to visit Wordsworth House and Garden, birthplace and childhood home of one of the world’s favourite poets.

Here are seven very good reasons why…

  1. It’s your last chance to see Beatrix’s drawings

William Wordsworth isn’t the only Lakeland literary legend we’re celebrating this year. 2016 is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Beatrix Potter. Without her foresight in buying and protecting large areas of the Lake Disctict and, later, gifting them to the National Trust, this beautiful part of the country wouldn’t be the place of respite and refreshment it is today.

This month is the last chance to see Two Bad Mice: Mischief in Beatrix Potter’s Tales, a major exhibition of her artwork at Wordsworth House. If you haven’t been yet, make sure you visit before 30 June, to revisit the magic of childhood through more than 20 of her beautifully observed original illustrations.

  1. William’s garden is looking glorious

June is also one of the very best months to enjoy the lovely heritage walled garden that provided Wordsworth with life-long inspiration.

Head gardener Amanda Thackeray will be leading tours on Tuesday 14 and 21 June at 11.30am. These are free with entry to the house and garden, but groups are small and places are allocated on a first come, first served basis, so please arrive in plenty of time.

  1. You deserve a special treat

Our shop is packed with lovely gifts and souvenirs – you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to treating yourself or a loved one.

When you’ve finished browsing, our cosy café serves indulgent cream teas, so why not join us for a cuppa and a homemade scone topped with clotted cream and jam? Independent blog National Trust Scones says ours are ‘divine’! We also offer light lunches – including local delicacy Morecambe Bay potted shrimps – and lots of lovely cake.

  1. You can hear about Two Wild Children

Every Wednesday and Saturday in June, at 11.30am, the costumed servants will be giving a special ten-minute talk entitled Two Wild Children, about how the natural world shaped both Beatrix and William.

  1. Our artist is in residence

On Friday 17 June, there’s a chance to join our artist-in-residence, Sarah Kate Smith, to try your hand at sketching or painting the kind of kitchen and garden objects Beatrix delighted in. To book your place in this friendly art class for all abilities, email wordsworthhouse@nationaltrust.org.uk or call 01900 824805.

  1. Even the toilets have had a makeover

This year we unveiled a new visitor welcome area and Discovery Room, with a permanent exhibition about William’s Lakeland legacy and his key role in the founding of the National Trust.

There’s a new 10-minute film playing in the cellar about how William and his sister Dorothy changed the world, and – following last December’s devastating flooding – even the toilets have had a dramatic makeover.

  1. The drive is Britain’s best

If you’re travelling from the central or southern Lakes, Cockermouth is around 45 minutes from Ambleside – and the drive on the A591, through the fells and along the side of Thirlmere, is officially Britain’s best!

We look forward to welcoming you to Wordsworth House and Garden very soon.

Go wild at Wordsworth House this half-term

28 May
Come and make a wild animal mask

Come and make a wild animal mask on Thursday or Friday this half-term

Come rain or shine this half-term holiday, there are lots of fun things for families to do at poet William Wordsworth’s Cockermouth birthplace.

You can dress up as a Georgian, play with toys like William had, make up a story with our giant magnetic quilt game, follow a trail round the house, or simply let off steam in the lovely heritage garden that inspired him.

On Saturday and Sunday, delve into the nooks and crannies of this amazing house or hunt for bugs in the garden with the help of a family explorer bag.

Monday is the day to join the costumed servants in the kitchen, roll up your sleeves and have a go at making clapbread. Just drop in any time between 11.30am and 3.30pm.

On Tuesday, it’s time to get cosy by the fire – or, if it’s sunny, head out to the garden – as our modern-day ‘Miss Potter’ celebrates the 150th anniversary of Beatrix’s birth by reading some of her little books. Take a seat for The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin at 11.30am, or The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle at 2.30pm.

Find out about the strange art of 18th-century letter writing on Wednesday, pen one yourself with quill and ink, then seal it with wax.

On Thursday and Friday the theme is wild art: we supply the materials – all you need to bring is your imagination. But if you’re planning to visit us on Friday 3 June, please note that last entry to the house, garden and café will be at 2pm, because of a staff funeral.

We look forward to seeing you!

Bring the family this Easter

20 Mar
WWH Easter by Stuart Cox

Complete our Easter trail and win a delicious chocolate prize

Easter is the perfect time to bring the whole family to Wordsworth House and Garden. We’re running a very special egg hunt, with delicious Cadbury chocolate prizes, from Friday 25 March to Monday 28 March, and there’s a full programme of fun activities over the rest of the school holidays.

On Mondays, children can join the costumed servants in the kitchen, roll up their sleeves and have a go at making clapbread. Just drop in any time between 11.30am and 3.30pm.

Tuesdays are the day to get cosy by the fire as our modern-day Beatrix Potter shares her little books. Take a seat at 11.30am for The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin or at 2.30pm for The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-winkle – and discover how both stories were inspired by Beatrix’s time in this part of the Lakes.

On Wednesdays, drop in between 11.30am and 3.30pm to find out about the strange art of 18th-century letter writing. Pen one yourself with a quill and ink, then seal it with wax.

Thursdays offer another chance to gather round the fire for some stories, but this time they’re taking a spooky turn. Settle down with the servants at 11.30am or 2.30pm to hear some of the ghostly tales William and Dorothy might have enjoyed.

The house is closed on Fridays – apart from Good Friday – but at the weekends, you can become a house detective or bug hunter with the help of a family activity bag full of trails and toys.

Whatever day you visit, there are reproduction toys and dressing up clothes – in all sizes – in the children’s bedroom. There’s a giant magnetic storytelling game in our new Discovery Room, and, if it’s dry, there will be skittles and poetry stones to play with in the back courtyard.

Help us celebrate reopening

8 Mar
Wordsworth House artist in residence Sarah Kate Smith

Wordsworth House and Garden artist-in-residence Sarah Kate Smith

William Wordsworth’s childhood home reopens on Saturday 12 March with a bright new look – and free entry for locals all weekend to celebrate.

Like much of central Cockermouth, the historic house and garden were badly hit by December’s flooding, and our staff and contractors have worked non-stop over the winter to repair the damage and make some exciting alterations.

There are new Discovery and Exhibition rooms, containing displays and family activities, and a specially made 10-minute film playing in the cellar. The shop is now an attractive visitor welcome area, including a refreshed retail section, and even the toilets are getting a stylish 19th-century makeover!

We want local people to be among the first to experience the transformation, so anyone with a CA postcode can visit free this weekend. All you need to do is show proof of address.

The Discovery Room has a family area, including a giant magnetic storytelling game, and a permanent exhibition about William’s Lakeland legacy and key role in the creation of the National Trust, while our new film explains how he and his sister, Dorothy, changed the world.

2016 is the 150th anniversary of the birth of children’s author and Lakeland farmer Beatrix Potter. To mark this, our first temporary exhibition, which will open for Easter and run until 30 June, includes almost 30 of her original drawings.

Two Bad Mice: Mischief in Beatrix Potter’s Tales, the first of two major exhibitions about her this year at Wordsworth’s birthplace, revisits the magic of childhood through her beautifully observed illustrations.

On Wednesdays and Saturdays in term time, at 11.30am, our costumed servants will be giving a special ten-minute talk entitled Two Wild Children, about how the natural world shaped both Beatrix and William.

Meanwhile, a series of Friday morning art classes for all abilities, run by artist-in-residence Sarah Kate Smith, offer anyone who enjoys sketching the opportunity to draw the type of domestic objects and garden scenes Beatrix loved.

The classes, which are on 18 March, 15 April, 20 May, 17 June, 23 September and 21 October, include morning coffee and a light lunch. They cost £35 each, or £30 if attending three or more, and all materials are kindly provided by the Derwent Cumberland Pencil Company. To book, email wordsworthhouse@nationaltrust.org.uk or call 01900 824805.

We’re open Saturday to Thursday, 11am-5pm (last entry 4pm). Entry to the exhibition, which closes at 4pm, is free with admission to the house and garden.

 

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