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Wordsworth House celebrates 80 years of new life

Guests on the front steps of Wordsworth House in June 1939 (Photo National Trust)

Eighty years ago this month, Cockermouth’s Wordsworth House and Garden opened to the public for the first time after local people saved it from demolition.

Poet William’s childhood home was presented to the National Trust and opened in June 1939 after a campaign to prevent it being knocked down and turned into a bus station gained worldwide support.

Guests leaving Wordsworth House opening ceremony in June 1939 (National Trust)

Wordsworth House visitor experience manager Zoe Gilbert said: “We’re celebrating this special anniversary with two major exhibitions taking very different perspectives on our fragile and ever-changing relationship with the world around us.

“We chose the subject not just because it’s topical today, but because it was something that mattered a great deal to William, who was one of the founding fathers of the global conservation movement.

“We also have a series of talks and special events, and a new display telling the story of this unique family home in the 20th century.”

The first exhibition of the year, ‘This Land is Our Land’, explores nature’s power to shape people and the impact that humanity, in turn, has on the environment.

Contributors include writers Robert Macfarlane, Sarah Hall and Hunter Davies, artist Julian Cooper and others living and working in the Lakes. Open daily except Friday until 8 September, admission is free with entry to the house and garden.

Arriving for the opening ceremony in Wordsworth House garden, June 1939 (Photo National Trust)

As part of a linked series of evening talks, on Thursday 20 June, National Trust ranger Maurice Pankhurst will share his passion for the trees and woodland at the beating heart of the ecosystem that sustains us all. The talk starts at 7.30pm and booking is essential. Tickets, which cost £5 including coffee and cake, are available from Wordsworth House shop.

June is also one of the best months to explore the house’s award-winning garden. On Tuesday mornings at 11.30am, head gardener Amanda Thackeray will lead a seasonal guided tour.

On 6 June, there is a chance to enjoy an early evening stroll around the tranquil riverside oasis that provided William with a lifetime’s poetic inspiration, as the house and garden stay open until 8pm (last entry 7pm).

Wordsworth House and Garden is short-listed for Small Visitor Attraction of the Year in the 2019 Cumbria Tourism Awards. The winners will be announced on Wednesday 19 June.