Although the weather forecast for the last day of our short break in the Lake District didn’t predict rain, they got it wrong! But we hadn’t intended to go out for a walk but to spend the day mooching around Keswick and then to visit the Wordsworth House and Garden in Cockermouth, just over 10 miles away and we didn’t let a little rain disrupt our plans.
The “Wordsworth House and Garden” is a large Georgian townhouse which is the birthplace and childhood home of the romantic poet. It stands in a prominent position on the main street and today it’s owned by the National Trust. At the moment it’s undergoing some restoration work and the front was obscured somewhat by scaffolding, so the following photograph is taken from the National Trust’s website.
Wordsworth’s father, John, was a lawyer who worked as the agent for the Cumberland estates of Sir James Lowther. He moved into the “tied” house (it came with the job) in 1765, marrying Ann Lowther, the daughter of a prosperous draper from Penrith the following year. They had five children: Richard in 1768, William in 1770, Dorothy in 1771, John in 1772 and Christopher in 1774.
When Ann died in 1778 William and his brother Richard were sent to Hawkshead Grammar School where they lived with a local woman and his sister Dorothy was sent to live with elatives in Halifax. Their father died in December 1783 and as the house went with the job the children became homeless and had to be sent to live with relatives.
Visitors see the house as it would have appeared when Wordsworth lived there with his parents, and siblings in the 1770s. It’s probably pretty typical of the type of house a Georgian middle class professional family would have lived in.
John Wordsworth’s study
The Clerk’s office
The Dining Room where guests would have been entertained
but wouldn’t have been used for the family’s daily meals. They would have been taken in the cosy Parlour, the main family living room, on the other side of the house, just off the kitchen
The large kitchen
The Drawing Room, another room used for entertaining and impressing guests, is at the front of the house on the first floor, very typical of Georgian houses
The family bedrooms were also on the first floor
The childrens’ bedroom
There’s a large garden at the back of the house, overlooking the River Derwent
The scarecrow has his own blog!
Wordsworth wrote about his childhood in his epic biographical poem The Prelude and he clearly had happy memories of living and growing up in the house.