One of the best-loved visitor attractions in the Lake District, Rydal Mount near Ambleside, is to re-open to visitors. And some previously unseen treasures will be on display for the first time.
The house where the poet William Wordsworth lived for most of his life has been closed due to the pandemic, although the gardens have been open for a few weeks.
Now the house itself is to be opened for limited numbers of visitors who must book online in advance.
It will be an opportunity for tourists to see the exquisite house and gardens where Wordsworth lived with his wife Mary and sister Dorothy after moving from Grasmere. But they will also be able to see some previously unseen treasures which have been added recently to the collection of the Wordsworth family’s prized possessions.
They include two portraits which had not been seen for generations. One is a framed portrait in oils of Wordsworth by Sir Willam Boxall, the finished version of which a study can be found in the National Portrait Gallery. There’s also a chalk and charcoal drawing by Samuel Crosthwaite, the last known portrait done of Wordsworth while he was still alive. This shows Wordsworth as a wild old poet at the end of his life rather than the more familiar image as a traditional pillar of Victorian society.
For many devotees, perhaps the most startling new arrival is the Wordsworth family bible, featuring in beautiful copperplate writing the date of John and Anne Wordsworth’s wedding day, and the birth and christening dates of all their children, including William and Dorothy.
There’s also Wordsworth’s own walking sticks, one with his crest in silver on it. And there’s an artist’s impression of the west elevation of a house which Wordsworth planned to build on what’s now known as Dora’s Field. A copy of the plans of this house had been hanging in the study at Rydal Mount, but the artist’s impression of the house brings this vision to life.
All of these were due to be put on display just as all visitor attractions were forced to close due to the pandemic. The curator, Emily Heath, said: “We are so thrilled that at last we can show these new treasures to visitors. We have been welcoming people to the gardens at weekends since restrictions were lifted, and now we are delighted that the house can be opened again.
“We want visitors to enjoy seeing the house and to experience the same peace, tranquillity and stunning views that William Wordsworth enjoyed.”
The house, which dates from the 16th century, was enlarged over the intervening centuries. It’s owned by the descendants of Wordsworth, who have been extending the collection of items on display.
It’s the house from where Wordsworth published the definitive version of I wandered lonely as a cloud, arguably the world’s most famous poem.
And visitors will see the couch on which he lay, as referred to in the poem:
“For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood, They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude; And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils.”
Wordsworth himself was a keen landscape gardener and the five-acre garden remains very much as he designed it. It consists of fell-side terraces, woodland, wild flowers, unusual shrubs, and an ancient mound.
The house will be open on selected dates through August and September, and tickets MUST be booked online via the website http://www.rydalmount.co.uk/
Only four people at a time will be allowed inside, and booking slots allow for half hour visits. The following health and safety rules are in place:
- Social distancing of 2 metres must be observed at all times
- Visitors MUST wear a mask while in the house
- Temperatures will be taken at the entrance
- Access is limited to those who’ve bought timed-entry tickets in advance online. This ensures visitor numbers are kept within safe limits.
- In the gardens, please follow the one way systems where applicable.
- Hand sanitiser stations can be found at the entrance and exit. Please use upon arrival and when leaving
- If you touch any hard services, please come to a hand sanitiser station and sanitise your hands immediately
- Please take your litter home with you and dispose of it responsibly
- Employees receive daily wellness checks to ensure they’re healthy and symptom- free
- Carpark – there are car-parking spaces available and priority is given to ticket holders. However, we cannot guarantee car parking space on the day. If you would like to discuss anything before booking your ticket, please email [email protected]