National Trust houses and other properties in Cumbria will start to reopen their doors to visitors from Monday.
Staff and volunteers have been working hard behind the scenes to get properties ready to reopen safely with social distancing in place, the organisation said.
Some small properties or rooms which can’t accommodate social distancing will reopen later once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted or when repair or redisplay work is completed.
For some National Trust houses in Cumbria, Monday will be the first time they’ve welcomed visitors through the doors since the beginning of the first national lockdown in March 2020, with exhibitions and events originally scheduled for 2020 now on display for visitors to enjoy in 2021.
At Wordsworth House and Garden, in Cockermouth, an exhibition to mark the 250th anniversary of poet and conservationist William Wordsworth’s birth was open for a matter of weeks in 2020 before lockdown restrictions forced the house’s closure.
A year later than planned, visitors to Wordsworth’s birthplace have the opportunity to explore William and his sister Dorothy’s upbringing – whose 250th anniversary is also being marked this year- through items, poetry and contemporary photography in the Georgian townhouse on the banks of the river Derwent, and how they were shaped by their outdoor adventures.
Allan Bank, in Grasmere, is also playing homage to Wordsworth’s legacy, as he and two other famous Allan Bank residents – National Trust Co-founder, Canon Ranwsley and Mountaineer, Samuel Coleridge – are etched onto the walls of the unassuming home in a temporary installation by local artist Sarah Jackman.
And in a year where we’ve all come to appreciate the importance of keeping in touch when we can’t be together, a new exhibition of letters, postcards and illustrations at Beatrix Potter’s Gallery in Hawkshead reveals how Beatrix shared her humour, sadness and determination with those closest to her.
As well as new exhibitions to experience, visitors will be able to once again be able to explore familiar favourites such as the treasures and trinkets in Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top home, shown exactly how Beatrix instructed it to be displayed when she left it to the National Trust upon her death in 1943.
While at Townend, Troutbeck, visitors will be able to book a small, exclusive visit to the traditional Lake District stone and slate farmhouse and see the displays of intricately carved furniture and rare books.
At Sizergh, visitors can now combine a walk around the gardens, woodlands and wetlands on the 1,600 acre estate with a trip inside the medieval manor house, home to the Strickland family for more than 800 years.
Containing to the best surviving example of Elizabethan wooden panelling in the world, the house is filled with an eclectic mix of items collected by 26 generations of the family.
Hilary McGrady, director-general of the National Trust said: “This is a big moment that we have all looked forward to for months as we welcome people back safely, to spend time together at their favourite properties.
“Hundreds of our parks, gardens and countryside locations have already reopened, but we know how much our members and supporters have been looking forward to returning to see our houses and collections again.
“Our places are nothing without our visitors there to enjoy them and our staff and volunteers have been working hard behind the scenes, cleaning chandeliers, polishing floors and dusting books, to get everything ready.
“We could not reopen so many of our places or carry out essential conservation without the patience and support of our members, visitors and donors throughout this pandemic. And we are enormously grateful to our volunteers for the roles they have played, and will be playing again, as they return to our properties.
“All the support we have received has made the difference to the National Trust being able to continue its work and ensure that our places remain here for everyone to enjoy.”