While I was in Grasmere and still had some time before the end of the afternoon, I decided to visit Dove Cottage. This is the house where Worsdworth lived from 1799 until 1808. It’s now owned by the Wordsworth Trust and is one of the main tourist attractions in the village. There was a small museum covering his life which showed some original manuscripts – his writing was worse than mine. The main attraction, though, was the guided tour of the cottage itself.
Before he moved in here, the cottage was a pub – “the Dove and Olive”. Some of the features, such as the flagged floor, reflected this former use. Similar cottages at the time would have had earth floors, but it was easier to clean spills of beer spilt on the flags.
The cottage was small by modern standards, especially as there would have been four adults (Wordsworth, his wife, his sister, Dorothy, and his wife’s sister) and three children living here for part of the time. It must have been very cramped as the rooms were all quite small. Items of furniture, mostly originals that had belonged to the Wordsworth family, were displayed in all the rooms. When they lived here, though, there must have been a lot more furniture and the house must have been filled with their belongings.
In Wordsworth’s time there would have been a good view of the lake from the upstairs sitting room and bedroom as the adjacent cottages and waterside hotel hadn’t been built. I suspect that the main road would have gone right by the house and that there would have been fields between it and the lake.
As the family got bigger and Wordsworth became more prosperous, the family moved out living in a few other houses in the vicinity, including Allen Bank on the other side of the village, up towards Helm Crag, finally ending up at Rydal Mount just down the valley towards Ambleside.
At the end of the guided tour, leaving the cottage we came out into the garden. Apparently Wordsworth was a keen gardener. I had a quick look round and headed back towards the village, taking a short diversion to look out over the lake. On a hot, sunny day like today it is easy to see why the Lake Poets were inspired by living here. It would probably be different during the winter months though. It must have been difficult living in such an isolated place during the cold dark months.