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Dove Cottage & The Wordsworth Museum

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by Shikainah Champion-Samuel (subscribe)
A great believer in exploring the off beat, non-touristy things hidden inside every city. For my professional practice check www.shikainah.com
Published September 19th 2017
Romantic poet Wordsworth's inspirational house
So, this is another article from my recent sojourn in the Lake District - one of the loveliest places in England - no, scratch that to world!

Dove Cottage was the home of the famous Romantic poet William Wordsworth, who lived here from 1799 to 1808 along with his wife, children, his unmarried younger sister Dorothy and the family dog Pepper (oh yes, Pepper has a portrait all on his own, gracing the wall above the living room fireplace !)

Now, I'd always assumed that Wordsworth like many others of his ilk lived in straitened circumstances. However, as I toured the cottage, the guide told us that he was appointed as Britain's poet laureate (so a steady Government salary there). I also learned some interesting bits of trivia like how the famous poem 'Daffodils' was actually captured in prose by Dorothy a good two years before her brother chanced upon her diary entry (she didn't seem to have minded, but I know in our house, should it be known that one sibling was peeking into the other's diary, the outcome of that would be very different to immortalizing it in verse!)

Anyway, among other things, the house has a fascinating collection of memorabilia- some original Wordsworth, some a good replica of what might have been. For instance, the primitive pair of ice skates we saw in the display cabinet was indeed his (ice skating over the frozen lakes during the winter was quite a common sport), whilst the couch or chaise lounge you see in the picture is a younger version of what historians surmise he would have used.

Dove cottage, Lake district
The older version of this would have certainly been used by Wordsworth


The lines "For oft, when on my couch I lie, In vacant or in pensive mood ...." (Daffodils) tells us that indeed he did have something like that.

I also learnt that one of their regular house guests was fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who not only fell in love with Mrs. Wordsworth's sister whilst he was still married to another, but was also a known drug addict whose nightmares used to frequently awaken the younger Wordsworths! (so much for thinking that some of these are problems of the modern world!). The other frequent visitor was Robert Southey- to whom is attributed the now famous fairy tale of Goldilocks and the three bears.

Dove Cottage has the quintessential charm of a bygone England. The views from both the front and back are spectacular as with all of Lake District.

Lake district, dove cottage
The back garden
It is owned by the Wordsworth Trust which oversees this property and the one adjacent - the Wordsworth Museum, where sister Dorothy's diary reposes in the hall of fame, called the Grasmere journal, as it gives a vivid snapshot of their daily lives. The tour is priced at a reasonable 8.95 per adult; children get to go free when accompanied by an adult. This ticket allows entry to both the house and the museum. The staff at the museum were very friendly and have designed some fun trails and treasure hunts which my girls enjoyed.

I came away with a little fridge magnet of Dove Cottage and a poster size reprint of the famous poem 'Daffodils'. If you are holidaying in the Lake District, then, do make this a stop. After all, its beauty evokes the sublime in all of us, but only a few can really capture it in verse like Wordsworth did. And, that is a reason to stop by and salute one of England's most famous poets.

Lake district
Surrounded by beauty
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Why? A bit of poetry never harmed anyone !
When: Check website for opening times as varies depending on time of year
Phone: 44(0)15394 35544
Where: Dove Cottage, Grasmere, Cumbria, LA22 9SH
Cost: 8.95 per adult
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