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Culture and Heritage in and around the Lake District

Visitors to The Lake District can enjoy a fine choice of museums, galleries and visitor attractions in all corners of the National Park. The area is famously connected with William Wordsworth, John Ruskin, Beatrix Potter, Harriet Martineau, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Wordsworth lived in both Grasmere and later in Rydal and you will find Heart of the Lakes cottages in both villages. The Armitt Museum in Ambleside houses over 400 original Beatrix Potter watercolours as well as the largest collection of original works by Kurt Schwitters outside Germany. .

With so many places to visit you will be spoiled for choice. Live theatre and up to the minute cinema, various festivals and local events all vie for your time. No visit to The Lakes is complete without a visit to at least one of the following: Rydal Mount, Dove Cottage, Levens Hall, Sizergh Castle, Holker Hall, Brantwood, Hilltop, and The Armitt.

Theatre by The Lake

Theatre by the Lake has a setting on the shores of Derwentwater in Keswick, no other professional theatre in Britain can match. Each year it stages up to nine of its own productions of plays on its two stages and has won multi-starred reviews from national critics. It also holds festivals of literature, jazz, film and mountains.

Brantwood

Former home of John Ruskin. Brantwood is one of the most beautifully situated houses in the Lake District. Brantwood is both a treasure house of historical importance and a lively centre of contemporary arts and the environment, welcoming in the region of 30,000 visitors a year.

Displays and activities in the house, gardens and estate reflect the wealth of cultural associations associated with Ruskin’s legacy – from the Pre Raphaelites and Arts and Crafts Movement to the founding of the National Trust and the Welfare State.

Check out the website for contemporary exhibitions, concerts, courses and special events.

Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House

Blackwell is one of Britain’s finest houses from the turn of the last century and survives in a truly remarkable state of preservation. Blackwell remains an internationally important icon of Arts and Crafts architecture.

Visitors are encouraged to sit and soak up the atmosphere in fireplace inglenooks, which boast fine examples of tiles by Arts & Crafts designer William de Morgan, and are free to enjoy the house as it was originally intended, without roped-off areas. The gardens were laid out by Thomas Mawson, in a series of terraces to achieve the best views from the house.

Several of its first floor rooms have been adapted for use as galleries, and exhibitions are held throughout the year.

A terrace tea room has views of the lake, and there’s also a super shop selling contemporary designer ceramics and jewellery – you don’t need to pay for entrance to the house to visit either the café or shop. Check out the website for events and exhibitions.

Dove Cottage

Dove Cottage was the home of William Wordsworth from December 1799 to May 1808. Take an entertaining guided tour of Dove Cottage and hear about the Wordsworths’ daily life and stories about their famous visitors.

Entry also includes a visit to the Wordsworth Museum and Art Gallery with its excellent displays and exhibitions of historic artefacts, original manuscripts and wonderful pictures by artists from the famous to the obscure.

There is also a programme of exhibitions and events from craft workshops and free childrens’ activities to fine art, photography and poetry.

Wordsworth House

Step into the 1770s at William Wordsworth’s childhood home.

This lovely Georgian townhouse, in the Cumbrian town of Cockermouth, was the birthplace and childhood home of romantic poet William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy.

Presented as their bustling family home and peopled by costumed servants, it offers an unforgettable chance for all ages to see, smell, hear, touch and even taste what it was like to live in the 1770s.

There are daily ten-minute talks, poetry readings, children’s trails and tastings of recipes the Wordsworths’ servants might have prepared. During school holidays, there is also a full programme of family activities.

Make yourself at home in the hands-on rooms – including an amazing working Georgian kitchen – help the servants with their chores, listen to their tales of life with the family and learn the fascinating story of the house and garden.

Grown-ups and children can write with a quill pen and ink, dress up in replica 18th-century clothes, play with replica toys, listen to the harpsichord, browse the books or just relax and soak up the atmosphere.