We didn’t visit Dove Cottage at Grasmere because we were pushed for time and it isn’t National Trust. Allan Bank was our destination, unfortunately we thought it was actually in the village and it isn’t. So by the time we bought our Grasmere gingerbread (which is different but very good) and had a look around the shops, the craft/antique shop next to the Co-op actually has a lot of books in it, and I managed to buy an old Scottish railways book for a certain member of the family – we had even less time.
Allan Bank stands above Grasmere, it looks a lot further away than it is, but we dashed up the hill anyway, with our eye on the time because our parking ticket was only for 90 minutes. It turns out that Allan Bank is not your usual National Trust property. You can read all about it here.
William Wordsworth and his wife and children lived in the house for a couple of years, along with Coleridge, but at the moment it’s being used as a place for footsore NT members to have some rest and relaxation. I’m sure the woman who welcomed us said that the coffee was free but you had to pay for cakes. Anyway we had no time for coffee. We had a good look around the house though, there’s not much in the house apart from a lot of chairs and some tables, there were actually a few vacant ones.
Apparently there was a fire in the house in 2011 and you can see some of the damage in this photo. Allan Bank is now a shell, stripped back to the plaster but I suppose it will eventually be restored when finances are on a healthier footing. If you look closely at the photo below you can see a boudoir grand piano which has just been purchased for the house. If you ask the staff they will allow you to play it.
The photo below is of the large skylight directly above the staircase. You can’t see it in the photo but the glass has tiny stars etched all over it.
I wasn’t able to take too many photos of the interior because there were so many people in it R&R-ing, but this gives you an idea of the house and setting.
This is a close up of the same window, obviously the glass wasn’t damaged in the fire. Don’t you just love that old wavy glass. I still find it quite amazing that glass is actually a liquid which moves even more slowly than glaciers and forms interesting patterns over the years.
And lastly I couldn’t resist photographing this derelict cottage which stands at the right hand side of the house. I presume it was inhabited by the head gardener but as you can see it is not so much distressed as having a complete nervous breakdown. It looks like there are plans afoot to save its life though as someone has painted four different blocks of colour on the front wall, as if they are trying to decide which colour to go for. I vote for the two outer cream colours, definitely not pink.
And that was Allan Bank we only had about 15 minutes in it and then we had to leg it down the hill. Luckily we got to our car just as its parking time was about to run out which was just as well as there was a parking attendant just about to pounce!
The Wordsworth family graves are in the village. I’m sure he would have been offered the chance to be buried in Westminster Abbey in Poets’ Corner but obviously that didn’t appeal to him.