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.

 

Drop in and find out about volunteering

14 Jan

Volunteering at Wordsworth HouseIf you’re looking for an interesting way to spend a few spare hours each week or fortnight this year, volunteering for the National Trust could be the answer.

Volunteers play a crucial part in helping visitors get the most out of their time here at Wordsworth House and Garden and in the countryside around Derwentwater, and we need more people of all ages to join the team.

If you’re retired or recently moved to the area, volunteering is a great way to widen your horizons. And if you’re keen to return to paid employment, to transfer into the heritage sector or get some broad-based work experience, it’ll be an invaluable addition to your CV.

You don’t need any special skills or knowledge to get involved at poet William’s childhood home. We provide full training and support – all you require is a friendly, chatty manner and to like meeting people.

If you enjoy spending time outdoors in beautiful places, and you’re a dab hand with an open fire, we also also need more helpers to take turns staffing the former Bark House Mountain Base in Borrowdale as a pop-up visitor centre.

Volunteers have spent the last year opening the stone bothy at Ashness Bridge, lighting the fire, saying “muddy boots welcome” and answering people’s queries about directions and walks in the area.

We’re holding events in Cockermouth and Keswick for anyone who’d like to find out more.

Drop into Cockermouth Library, on Main Street, on Tuesday 2 or Saturday 6 February between 9.30am and 12.30pm for a chat.

Or you can meet the National Trust team at Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake on Thursday 11 or Saturday 13 February any time between 10am and 1pm.

We’ve been flooded – again

9 Dec

Wordsworth House 5 Dec flood by Cath Tyrrell

On Saturday, 5 December, the rivers Cocker and Derwent, which flow through Cockermouth, burst their banks and flooded the town centre, including Wordsworth House and Garden.

By Monday morning, most of the water – which had been up to five-feet deep – was gone, leaving behind a sea of mud and silt.

As in 2009, the last time Cockermouth was badly flooded, the house itself was largely unscathed. However, our shop, reception area and cellars were inundated, and we have a great deal of cleaning up, drying out and refitting to do.

My beautiful heritage garden, where William learned his love of nature, has been particularly badly hit.

Gardener Amanda told me the damage looks to be worse than in 2009, even though the water level was lower.

She said: “Although, this time, it didn’t bring down any walls or the terrace where William and his sister Dorothy loved to play, we’re expecting to lose more of our heritage plants.

“This is because the mud left behind is much thicker than it was six years ago, meaning many more plants are likely to die from suffocation. We’re also expecting a lot more rain, which will stress them further when they’re vulnerable.”

Wordsworth House garden 6

Amanda added: “As in 2009, our insurance won’t cover the loss of our heritage plants, so we’ll face a substantial bill for replanting. It’ll be a while before we know just how much this will be, as we can’t begin the process of trying to save them until a cleaning company has been in to hose down the paths and shed to remove contamination and make it safe for the staff and volunteer team to work.

“There will be a delay before this can happen, as the professional cleaners’ priority obviously has to be sanitising the many homes that have been flooded, so the people who’ve been affected can start their own clean-up operations.”

Despite the hard work ahead, we aim to reopen for 2016 as planned on 12 March.

In the meantime, we’ve had offers of help and donations from as far away as China. If you’d like to help us by donating towards the cost of replacement plants, please email Ross.mackintosh@nationaltrust.org.uk

Thank you – we look forward to welcoming you to a restored Wordsworth House and Garden in 2016.

Come and join us!

25 Nov
Wordsworth House_Alex Morgan_Aug 36

Get involved: we’re looking for volunteers to help our visitors feel at home

The last visitors of the year have been and gone, but there’s still plenty going on at Wordsworth House and Garden.

Over the winter, our expert builders and carpenters will be creating two exciting new exhibition spaces – in the main house and former reception area – to be unveiled when we reopen on 12 March.

One will house a special exhibition of original drawings by Beatrix Potter, to celebrate her 150th anniversary; the other will be home to a permanent exhibition about William’s adult life and legacy.

Volunteers play a crucial part in helping visitors get the most out of their time at his childhood home, so if you like meeting people and have a few hours a week to spare, why not join the team?

We’re looking for volunteers to:

  • welcome and orientate visitors
  • help them enjoy our exhibitions
  • lead 30-minute taster tours
  • play our harpsichord
  • act as room guides
  • serve and clear tables in the café.

You don’t need any special skills or knowledge, as we give full training and support. You just need a friendly, chatty manner. Email us at wordsworthhouse@nationaltrust.org.uk to find out more.

Our staff are a talented lot

22 Sep
Beau Bruce and his dandy horse

Beau Bruce and his dandy horse

We’ve had a busy time recently with the Tour of Britain cycle race coming to Cockermouth – and it’s given the staff team a real chance to show off their talents.

Bike builder Rachel

Bike builder Rachel

Bridget's fabulous Wordsworth House cake

Bridget’s fabulous Wordsworth House cake

Over the past few weeks, house steward Rachel has made a dandy horse (Georgian bicycle) for retail supervisor Bruce to demonstrate, housekeeping assistant Bridget has decorated a cake to look like Wordsworth House in its special temporary ‘king of the mountains’ livery, and cafe assistant Hilarie even baked a load of bicycle shaped scones!

Hilarie's bonkers bike scones

Hilarie’s bonkers bike scones

Gareth, our outdoor and sports programme manager, got into the Tour of Britain spirit on his mini penny-farthing – and the rest of the team were looking pretty splendid too, on their bikes and off.

Gareth on his penny-farthing

Gareth on his penny-farthing

Rachel gets on her (very small) bike

Rachel gets on her (very small) bike

Kirsty tries the penny-farthing

Kirsty tries the penny-farthing

Amanda has a go

Amanda has a go

The team enjoy a well-deserved drink

The team enjoy a well-deserved drink

Meanwhile, costumed servant Rowan has created a stick family of 18th-century historical characters plus ‘stage sets’ for them to live in.

Rowan's stick figures

Rowan’s stick figures

Her stick pirate - with his tiny parrot

Her stick pirate – with his tiny parrot

Rowan's version of Wordsworth House

Rowan’s version of Wordsworth House

Aren’t they all amazing?

Roll up your sleeves and experience Georgian life

11 Aug
Making clapbread in the kitchen at Wordsworth House

Hands on: Making clapbread in the kitchen at Wordsworth House

There’s plenty to keep everyone entertained, indoors and out, at Wordsworth House and Garden over the school holidays.

On Mondays, children can head for the working Georgian kitchen, roll up their sleeves and help the costumed servants make clapbread, a traditional Cumbrian recipe.

Tuesdays are wild art days. Adults and children can unleash their creativity and make artworks using found objects ranging from twigs and leaves to feathers and seashells. Our staff have already had a go, and their creations are on show around the house to provide inspiration.

On Wednesdays, the servants – who are hard at work in the house every day during the holidays – give special 10-minute talks on the weird world of Georgian leisure at 11.30am and 2.30pm. Afterwards, visitors can step back in time and find out what it was like to take part in an 18th-century skittles match or card game for themselves.

On Thursdays, children can try some of the 50 things we think everyone should experience before they are 11 ¾, including snail racing and grass trumpet making. If it’s wet, we’ll just move everything indoors!

We’re closed on Fridays, but at weekends families can borrow Explorer Bags full of trails, tools and toys to help them delve further into the nooks and crannies of this fascinating house and garden.

Whatever day you visit, reproduction toys and dressing up clothes – in all sizes – are waiting in the children’s bedroom. The quills and ink are ready in the clerk’s office, while in the kitchen, there’s an 18th-century recipe to taste. And, if you have a musical bent, feel free to pick out a tune on the harpsichord.

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