Brantwood – John Ruskin’s home at Coniston

Following on from my previous post – below is a side view of John Ruskin’s house Brantwood at Coniston. As you can see it goes quite far back. The rather ugly grey blocks to the right of the photo are now loos but I think originally they were workshops.

Brantwood

I took the photo below so that you could see the view of the lake from it, the room itself is a small museum which features artefacts that Ruskin had collected, especially geological samples, the white object on the table is a huge piece of rock crystal. He seems to have been fond of that as it features in the garden too.
Brantwood
The drawing room is below.
Brantwood

Brantwood

And now a sort of study which has the same wallpaper, I didn’t notice that when we were there!
Brantwood

Brantwood
On to the dining room which is quite sparse looking in the photo below.
Brantwood
But from the other end it’s a bit more homely looking. The portraits are of members of his family.
Brantwood
Below is his bedroom which looks very much like it belongs to a single man but he did marry again eventually. The watercolours on the walls are of landscapes.
Brantwood
Below is a photo of a tiny turret room, really it’s just a bay window off the bedroom but it has a wonderful view of the lake – a favourite spot for Ruskin to sit in I believe.

Brantwood turret
Brantwood  turret room

Looking at the photos now I’m quite confused, mainly due to the same wallpaper featuring in two and possibly three rooms. Were there two pianos in the same room? Possibly there were, I used to have a boudoir grand and an upright in the same room after all – which makes me sound posh I suppose – but I’m not!
Brantwood

Brantwood is in a lovely location and must have been comfortable in its day. John Ruskin was a great champion of the Pre-Raphelite Botherhood of course but there’s not a great deal of evidence of any of their paintings here. Ruskin was definitely not good husband material going by his poor wife Effie’s experiences.

Effie Gray eventually married the artist Millais and they had eight children. Click on the link to read a bit more about the background of the marriage.

Coniston Water and Brantwood

After visiting Grasmere we drove on to Coniston Water on the way to our next overnight stop in Derbyshire. It was a lovely day and thankfully Coniston Water wasn’t nearly as busy as other places in the Lake District – such as Ambleside which always seems to be heaving.

We were making our way to Brantwood which is the lovely house that the writer, art critic, philosopher, philanthropist and environmentalist John Ruskin bought, it is situated high above Coniston Water and these photos were taken from the grounds at the front of the house.

Coniston Water

Coniston Water

Coniston Water

You can see in the photo below that there are lots of wee boats and yachts in the lake. This lake inspired Arthur Ransome to write his Swallows and Amazons series.
Coniston Water

And below is a photo of Brantwood, it has marvelous views of the lake. Ruskin bought this house unseen as he had often holidayed at Coniston and at a time when he was ill he thought that if only he could lie down in the water at Coniston he would get better. It must have worked as he lived here for many years.

Brantwood, Coniston

I suspect that the one thing that everyone knows about John Ruskin is that his wife had to go to court to get an annulment for non-consummation of the marriage. That harmed his reputation for a long time but that was just a small part of a long life which included many interests. He was interested in educating ordinary working people, at this time education in England was in a very poor state compared with in Scotland. He was involved with progressive schools for girls, and he also set up workshops that trained and employed people who would probably otherwise be unemployed and destitute.

I’ll show you some photos of the inside of the house soon.

Recent Goings On

Well it has been a wee bit quiet on ‘pining’ for a few days. I’ve been busy with house and garden stuff. Yes, the sun came out and it warmed up enough to go out and cut back more dead stems from last year, like the Michaelmas daisies and all my herbs, things are starting to grow and a female blackbird has actually been gathering nesting material today, I don’t know where she is building it but it seems to be quite luxurious as she was pulling the old mud encrusted and half-rotted water lily pads off the top of the water, I think that’ll be used to draught proof her nest.

My first daffodils should be flowering in a few days but sadly most of my crocuses have looked like burst balloons as all that snow and ice just came at the wrong time and they didn’t get a chance to open properly. My lenten roses are flowering but as usual they’re too low down for anyone to see the flowers, unless you are fairy sized. Next year I’m going to cover them with a large plant pot or something similar, as Beverley Nichols recommends, so that they will grow longer stems to reach the light. So it seems like spring is finally here, although it’s still coldish, especially at night. And here’s a photo which I took on Saturday from Dysart, looking over to the snow covered Pentland hills near Edinburgh. The snow looks quite a bit whiter than the clouds.

Pentland hills

I did find some time to read the Guardian Review and thought that some people might be interested in this article by Michael Prodger about John Ruskin. A new book has been published – Marriage of Inconvenience by Robert Brownell – which casts some more light on the reason for the non-consummation of Ruskin’s marriage to Effie Grey. Even this Guardian article was enlightening to me as I hadn’t realised that Ruskin and Effie had been childhood friends as they both grew up in Perth. There’s just one thing that everybody seems to ‘know’ about the Ruskin marriage – yes the pubic hair theory, if you’re interested in another theory have a look here.

There’s also an article by Jeanette Winterson about suffragettes. If you’re interested have a look at Smashing the glass. Winterson mentions Sheryl Sandberg and Pussy Riot too.

The grass in my garden is squelching, as it has been wet for months now but it’s a different situation in the Highlands where the weather has been so dry that moors have been engulfed with flames, have a look here if you don’t believe me!