Dove Cottage, Grasmere, Lake District

Dove Cottage

By the time we reached Grasmere last week dusk was beginning to fall, and as our hotel was a mile or so outside the village we drove into Grasmere and parked outside Dove Cottage, the home of William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy to begin with and then after he got married they had to eventually squash five kids in there too.

Dove Cottage
When the Wordsworths lived in the cottage there were none of the buildings around it that you see now, and they had an unrestricted view of the lake.

Dove Cottage
I was really glad that we decided to have a snoop around after the cottage was closed as we had it to ourselves and were able to look around the garden in peace.

Dove Cottage
The garden is situated on a sloping site, it’s a bit neglected at the moment, I think they must be in need of some gardening volunteers, it’s a pity I live too far away!
Dove Cottage back garden 1
Steps lead up to what was a favourite spot with Wordsworth, this refurbished summer gazebo.
Dove Cottage back garden 5
Back down close to the cottage some vegetables are being grown in the area where apparently an outhouse had stood in Wordsworth’s day. As it’s only a few steps from the cottage it must have been the earth closet. That would have been particularly handy as originally the cottage had been a pub and William and Dorothy were the first people to live in it as a home.
Dove Cottage side garden 1

It’s a tiny cottage and it’s very dark downstairs and would have been even darker in Wordsworth’s day as the windows have been enlarged since then. We didn’t manage to get any photos of the downstairs but it consists of a small kitchen, a buttery which is a teeny wee room where they stored perishable food and a small living room which must have been used as a bedroom when all the children began to arrive. It feels a lot colder than the kitchen and you can hear the stream which flows underneath it. When it was in use they probably prised one of the slates up from the floor so they could place a container of milk in it to keep it fresh. They must have got their water from there too. There’s a small living room, quite cosy really.

Upstairs there are three small bedrooms. The one below was William’s, it was very cold upstairs as the fireplace couldn’t be used, the room quickly filled with smoke apparently.
William Wordsworth's  bedroom 1
Dorothy chose thie tiny room below. In her day she papered the walls with old newspapers, presumably in an effort to insulate the place. It has been repapered since then but as you can see the damp is coming through badly. There is no fireplace in this room and it is directly above the cold buttery. I can see why she chose it though as it’s at least private, you have to walk through the other bedroom to get into this one.

inside Dove  cottage  Dorothy's

The upstairs sitting room is lovely and bright and the furniture and china did actually belong to the Wordsworths.
inside Dove Cottage  sitting room 1

inside Dove  Cottage sitting room

Normally the cottage housed eight people, the five children, William, Mary his wife, Dorothy his sister and another female relative and Dorothy wrote in her diary that at one point there were fifteen people staying in the house, it’s one way of keeping warm I suppose!

Sir Walter Scott visited them and I can just imagine his astonishment at the size and simplicity of the place. But Wordsworth was very happy here and although they did later move to a house in nearby Rydal, in the end they all came back to Grasmere to be buried.

Wordsworth graves

Wordsworth graves

There are lots of Wordsworths in the graveyard.

The entry charge also includes a visit to the nearby Wordsworth museum which is very interesting and contains a lot of personal things, including Wordsworth’s dental ‘pokey’ things and some of his clothes.

We were really glad that we had visited the exterior of the house earlier as by the time we got there just before the cottage opened in the morning hordes of foreign students turned up just behind us, luckily we managed to get in just before they did, otherwise we couldn’t have taken any photos at all. They were Dutch I think, so surprising as I wouldn’t have thought Wordsworth would be well known there.

Wordsworth House, Cockermouth

We actually stayed at Cockermouth when we were in the Lake District, mainly because that is where William Wordsworth was born and grew up, and in the hope that it wouldn’t be as busy and touristy there as the actual lakes. As you can see, there is a mini roundabout almost at the gates of the house. The Wordsworth House was certainly handy for the shops as the house is right in the main street.

Wordsworth's house

It was still busy at the house though, we went there as soon as it opened and there was quite a large crowd of people waiting to get in. I don’t know what happened to them all because when we looked around the house it wasn’t too busy at all.

Wordsworth garden

The above photo is of the back of the house. Frankly I could have done without the arty crafty stuff. I suppose it was there to interest children but to me it spoiled the atmosphere of the garden and the textile art is very much of the sort that everybody who is in the least bit handy with a crochet hook, knitting needles or into felt craft would say to themselves – I can do that!

The photo below was taken from the house and when you climb the steps at the end of the garden there is a small terrace and a low wall, on the other side of the wall is the River Derwent.

Wordsworth House Garden 1 from house

It must have been a brilliant place to spend your childhood. I imagine William hopped over the wall frequently to have some fun in the river. Even although there had been a lot of rain and presumably snow melt from the hills, the river wasn’t deep and in the summer it must be very low and safe to play in.

Sadly Wordsworth’s mother died when he was only 8 years old and after that he lived mainly in nearby Penrith with relatives.

The photo below was taken from the end of the garden, looking to the left you can see the old bridge which is still in use. I wonder if children play in it nowadays.

Bridge in Cockermouth, from Wordsworth House.

The original kitchen range is also still in use, with a real fire in the grate. We were given Grasmere gingerbread which had been baked there to try, it was very nice. I still haven’t got around to making my own yet, maybe I’ll manage it during this week. And there’ll be more photos of the interior of Wordsworth’s House later in the week too.

Wordsworth's House kitchen