Grasmere St Oswald’s Church with the door closed. Grass growing long in the churchyard. No snaking line of tourists queuing up outside the gingerbread shop. Easter and Bank holidays with no visitors.
The Coop did an amazing job keeping the village supplied with essentials and were very proactive in keeping the shopping experience safe. Thank you Tom and staff.
Wouldn’t you just know it. The sun blazed down day after day. Going for fresh air and exercise was a pleasure but one couldn’t help feeling it was such a shame not to be able to share with visitors.
After a very wet start to the year we watched as the river practically dried up.
Spare time was spent making masks to keep family and friends safe.
The traditional Grasmere Sports and Rushbearing cancelled. Then, suddenly little shoots of hope.
No the circus hadn’t come to town, however due to the ingenuity of staff, children were at last able to attend school in a socially distanced way.
Herdwick sheep real and otherwise raised a cheer when non essential shops were allowed to open this week.
Hopefully Hotels, and other accommodation providers will follow soon, along with restaurants and pubs.
Visitors we have missed you. It’s been very quiet which although nice sometimes isn’t always a good thing. Let’s all respect each other, follow the safety guidelines and hopefully the sun will keep shining when you come back.
Well we are now a few days in since the floods which certainly had an effect on our village. How are things now.
Well I never knew how heavy underfelt was when it was saturated with water. However the carpets are up.
Workmen are checking everything is safe.
The road that was being washed away is being reinstated. So it’s just a case of waiting for everything to dry out and getting back to normal. In the rest of the village it’s the same story.
Bin bags of spoilt stock, carpets and muck swept down from the hillside.
Apart from the odd side road all roads are clear. Our main problem is the A591 going North to Keswick which has been washed away, making Grasmere the end of the road. A huge detour down the M6 is now necessary. Bus services now terminate and start at Grasmere but the roads from the South are now all clear.
Today signs of normality were all around. Happy children playing in the school yard. Parents worked quickly to get the flooded school back to normal. A Tesco delivery van who had to wheel shopping quite a distance to homeowners.
The church which was flooded was again cleared out and brought back to normal by a band of volunteers who rallied round really quickly. I understand there is a wedding here on Saturday, so business as usual.
So despite the floods Grasmere is bouncing back. Shops are open. Hotels are open, and we really need you to come, do your Christmas shopping, and help us get back to normal. The famous Grasmere Gingerbread shop is open and looking lovely for Christmas.
The National Trust shop is open and has a wonderful selection of gifts, all for charity too.
Independent Bookshop Sam Reads is open and has a wonderful selection of books for all tastes. Brilliant children’s section too.
Jigsaw heaven at our local newsagent Barneys Newsbox one of the largest collections of jigsaws anywhere, just head up the stairs and you will see what I mean.
The shop I could spend a fortune in. Great source of art supplies at Heaton Cooper Studios. Gifts and prints. Open for business.
And Grasmere wouldn’t be Grasmere without the Herdy shop. Open with a great range of exclusive gifts.
Attic shop was looking ready for Christmas and I couldn’t resist browsing the enticing range of gifts.
Hotels are open too and ready for visitors.
They all have decorations up and are looking forward to visitors for the festive season.
I happened to be in the Red Lion Hotel today. Looking very Christmassy downstairs however not all was as it should be upstairs.
The swimming pool was closed due to flooding.
So that’s the story a few days on. People have rallied round. Farmers have suffered greatly and a lot of people I have spoken to are not insured or cannot wait for Insurers to give the okay to proceed. Time is money, Christmas is coming.
I have a sign in my hall. As the rain started again today I kept looking at it and trying to believe.
The rain is falling heavily again tonight.
As a young student straight from Art College I applied for a summer job working in Grasmere Village. My interview took place in the then Prince of Wales Hotel bar. At the time, this was one of the best places to visit and stay in Grasmere. That summer job ended up being employment that lasted more than 30 years. Grasmere has changed over this time and the Prince of Wales has certainly had mixed fortunes, but I am happy to say has now been restored to not only its former glory but far surpassed it as the newly named Daffodil Hotel. Regular readers of this blog will have read my Prince of Wales Then and Now post, and more recently my post The Daffodil Hotel, A New Beginning.
Life in the tourist industry can be a long haul from Easter till the end of season. By the time October comes around we are all starting to flag a bit. But as my Mother-in law used to say “bear in mind these folk could have chosen anywhere in the world to take their holiday, and they have chosen here, make it worth their while”. Wise words!. However time for a bit of “me’ time and where better to try than the newly opened Daffodil Hotel Spa.
Nice to be met with a smile, and we were quickly changed into towelling robes and ready for our Rasul Room Treatment. What I hear you ask is that?. Well the name is of Ancient Middle Eastern origin. We went in to a room where various types of mud had been prepared for us to apply. Some smelt of chocolate, some were anti-aging, you get the picture, and no guesses which I chose !. You then go into another room which has two individual mosaic covered loungers which are heated. Lying on them a variety of relaxing aromas infuse the air, while coloured lights play across the ceiling. After some time the lights then brighten and a shower of warm rain falls from the ceiling to wash the mud away. Wonderfully relaxing!
Next to the pool. A series of different “experiences” awaited. There are six different areas in the pool, all with benefits to different parts of the body. Some lying, some sitting and some standing. Now it was at this point that we realised what a friendly place the spa really was. Watching our fellow bathers standing under three pipes which aimed various amounts of water on to them, everyone in the spa got a fit of the giggles. It was great because everyone was chatting away about the spa, the hotel and Grasmere in general. Lovely to hear such positive views about all three!.
Would have made a great picture someone under one of the pipes but didn’t feel it was really appropriate!
On to the very large sauna and steam room next, and the same friendly banter. A real tonic. And guess what I found in the changing room. My favourite Pure Lakes products.
After a lovely afternoon at the spa we left feeling really ready for the rest of the season. So if you are at the Daffodil Hotel in Grasmere and wake to a day like this.
Why not visit the spa and leave feeling like this!
It’s not often we get a brand new hotel in Grasmere, far less one right on the shores of Grasmere. I had written before about the trials and tribulations of the old Prince of Wales/Waterside Hotel in a previous post “Prince of Wales Hotel, Then and Now”. Lots of people had commented on the blog. They were people who had memories of the history of the old Hotel, people who had worked there, people who had stayed there, and lots of people commenting on their worries of what the Hotel would become.
Well, a new chapter begins here. The Hotel opened on the 26th July 2012 under a new name. The Daffodil Hotel.
At first glance it is obvious that a lot of work needs to be done on the grounds surrounding the hotel, after all it has been a building site for quite some while. However it’s not difficult to visualise what it will become.
While the outside might still need a bit of work, the interior is more than finished. Talk about a room with a view!
It must be one of the most stunning settings for a hotel you could imagine. And what about a room with a balcony overlooking the lake. Yes you can have that too.
There is talk of having lots of natural flowers in the gardens, bluebells, daffodils, just imagine how nice that will look.
Anyway, let’s wander down the hall and see what else we can find. I say wander, but it’s easy to become distracted by the wonderfully quirky limited edition prints hanging there. Worth a look in themselves. Being female I couldn’t help being impressed by the Molton Brown goodies in the bedrooms, and guess what, there is even a Molton Brown room you can stay in, just take a look at this shower.
You don’t need to worry that the character of the hotel has been lost though. There were still plenty of sympathetically restored areas of the original hotel.
Lots of variety in the rooms, some were suites, some had amazingly large baths and bathrooms, it would be hard to pick a favourite.
Lovely little touches like echoing the pattern of the beautiful carpets, on the wardrobes. But I still had to see the bit I was most excited about. The Spa. And what a spa.
To quote a famous retailer ” This is not just a spa, this is a Daffodil Hotel spa”. Not a swimming pool, but lots of different experiences in each area. Talk about relaxing. And as if that wasn’t enough, what about the very large steam room.
Now to have a look at the dining room and bar area. Well this table will do me just fine.
By now I was just about ready to book in, what a shame I live so near. Free Wifi everywhere too. I also had a quick peek in the two reception rooms, and to all the folk who thought the past had been forgotten, one was called the Waterside room, and one The Prince of Wales. Guess which this is.
By now the sun was trying to come out, and as I was going outside I had a little laugh to myself that one kind guest had obviously decided not to dirty the carpet!
There are views from every direction in the grounds. How about this view of Helm Crag.
So there you have it. A new chapter in an old hotel. All that’s left to say is “Cheers” and all the best to the new owners on their exciting venture.
I always feel proud of Grasmere, but never more so than this morning. On my early morning walk there was a sign saying “use side entrance of church” so I did!.
In all the years I have been here, I have never seen such a sight. The interior of St Oswald’s Church was all decked out for a Jubilee Party.
The lucky children of Grasmere School were having a “street party” inside the church. Something they would no doubt remember for a long time. Each child’s name was made into a crown, and the scene was set.
That got me thinking. Why not photograph more of the businesses that had made an effort for the Jubilee. So here we go. All credit to the following for making things so nice for our visitors.
Potted Out Cafe had the flags flying over their door, and also these displays in their plant pots. Well they are part of the Garden Centre after all!
All Red, White and Blue in the Information Centre Window.
I think Sarah Nelson would have been very proud of the display the present family members had made of the Gingerbread Shop.
Next up, The Wordsworth Hotel.
Nearly got lead astray at this point as I could see everyone in the Hotel restaurant tucking into their breakfasts, which looked delicious!
Luckily Baldry’s Tearoom was shut, as they have the most yummy cakes you can imagine.
The flags were flying at Heidi’s Cafe. A great place to stock up on a packed lunch for your walk.
One of the oldest buildings in Grasmere. The Red Lion Hotel.
And the newest shop, just opened in a new home. Attic, full of wonderful gifts.
Loved the Heaton Cooper Studio window. Obviously making the most of the fact that we also have the Olympic Torch passing through the village as well.
Everyone’s favourite the totally cute Herdy shop.
A great base in the centre of the village. Beck Allans holiday cottages and Bed and Breakfast.
I suppose it was inevitable that the Storyteller Laureate of Great Britain would have the flags flying.
And guess what! Storyteller Taffy was at home. Full of tales of the events he was holding over the Jubilee holiday. In his newly spruced up garden, and as part of the Tales and Trails season, which take in walks to Helm Crag and Rydal Water.
He was also telling me about an event he is appearing at, at the newly re-opened Allan Bank. An evening of fairy stories and music for mid summer. Sounded great.
So there you have it. A little insight into Grasmere life. With events planned all over the 4 day holiday, it’s a great place to be. Hog roast, sports, concerts in the church and a beautifully decorated village. What more could you ask.
Finally, come rain or shine, I spotted these in an outdoor shop in the centre of the village. You too can be patriotic come rain or shine!
The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee 2012
A cold and frosty morning in Grasmere after a mild, grey, wet, winter.
The lake had started to freeze over for the first time his year.
The end of the lake where the weir is, is always the last to get the sun in the morning, but even there I managed to find a little patch of colour.
Because the lake wasn’t totally frozen, the reflections were unusual.
Looking down the lake it was interesting to see how the work on The Prince of Wales Hotel or Waterside Hotel as it is now known, was coming on. It should be opening this year which will be a relief as it has been a bit of an eyesore at the entrance to the village for a few years.
It couldn’t have a more idyllic setting and should hopefully be a credit to Grasmere when finished.
Another interesting thing which will be opening in Grasmere this year can be seen to the left of this photograph.
Allan Bank, a property owned by National Trust will be opening to the public for the first time at the end of March. Former home of William Wordsworth and Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley one of the founders of National Trust. Wordsworth protested loudly when it was built he said “Woe to poor Grasmere for ever and ever! …. when you next enter the sweet paradise of Grasmere you will see staring you in the face ….. a temple of abomination”. At that time he was living in Dove Cottage. Lake Terrace was built in front of the cottage at a later date, so Allan Bank was built slap bang in the middle of his undisturbed view of the Easdale Valley. Unfortunately for Wordsworth he had to eat his words as when Dove Cottage grew too small for his family, they moved into Allan Bank a few years later.
Allan Bank is an easy stroll from the village, so will be a great addition to visitors enjoyment of the village.
I walked past Wordsworth’s Grave later on and was pleased to see signs of Spring. A few snowdrops pushing through the icy ground. Just out of interest I had a look to see what Dorothy Wordsworth had written in her Grasmere Journal on this day February 10th in 1802. She wrote “A very snowy morning – it cleared up a little however for a while but we did not walk”.
Working in Grasmere you get used to the usual questions. “Where is the gingerbread shop”, “Where are the toilets”, however over the past year a new question has joined them “What on earth has happened to the Prince of Wales?”.
Built in 1855 and occupying an enviable position with frontage to the Grasmere Lake, Browns Lake Hotel was built as a testimony to the 19th Century tourist industry that Wordsworth did so much to inspire.
The hotel was built by Levi Hodgson who was resposable for building other impressive buildings still standing in Grasmere. Cragside, The Hollins, and Woodland Crag were all built by him and if you look at the church bridge you can see his initials there as he was responsible for widening it in 1832.
Not long after the hotel was built they had a Royal visitor Edward V11, The Prince of Wales , there was great excitment and Moses Bowness the photographer photographed the young prince on his visit in 1857. Edward Brown the owner of the hotel then changed the name to The Prince of Wales Hotel.
The name Prince of Wales remained until fairly recent times when it had a brief change to the Thistle Grasmere, followed by The Waterside Hotel. The Town End area of Grasmere where the hotel is situated was made a conservation area in 1984.
And now we jump to recent times. Having been sold, plans were submitted to improve the hotel.
The original plans, doubled the existing floor space and immediately there were protests. The Waterside Action Group was set up and even Rolf Harris and Sir Melvyn Bragg got involved. Lakes Parish Council, The Victorian Society, Friends of The Lake District and Grasmere Village Society put forward their arguments against the plans, saying it would dominate Grasmere Lake in an overbearing manner.
Eventually after three attempts the plans were passed on the premise that “All the bulk of the original building will be left intact”.
Apart from knocking through the hotel and leaving this fine Victorian building to the elements work seemed to have stopped. What a couple of years ago looked like being a beautiful 5 star hotel according to the plans has been left to rot.
Recent events have seen the death of one of the owners and I am afraid that Tony Ball hit the nail on the head right at the beginning when he said “This has all the makings of a Trojan Horse”.
Now we have an eyesore as the entrance to our beautiful village as the first thing people see. Situated directly opposite Dove Cottage and the hoardings dominating the landscape. It used to be the main stop for coaches travelling through to Scotland to spend the night. We always knew at about 5pm there would be a sudden flurry of customers who had just checked into “The Prince” and usually remained open until late to serve them. Reekies weavers used to visit the hotel with their wares to sell in the evening. It has taken the buzz away and has impacted on many of the businesses. Will we ever get the coaches back? who knows. We used to always blame any mischief in the village on “the staff from the Prince” and I would give anything to have them back.
Let’s hope that some day this symbol of early tourism in the Lake District is transformed back to her former glory and a new chapter begins for The Prince of Wales, Grasmere.
Update 9th April 2011
Well work has started and to keep everyone up to date here are a few recent photos.
I do have a habit of calling the hotel the Prince of Wales, but believe the name The Waterside Hotel is what will be retained.
As you can see things are actually moving, but there is still a long way to go.
I will keep posting photos as the work progresses, let’s hope we are soon seeing a big improvement.
Watch this space….
Update 2nd August 2011
Good news. Real progress is finally being made. First the tatty hoarding round the development was spruced up with a coat of paint so that it wasn’t such an eyesore and work now seems to be progressing quickly.
You can see the shape of the old hotel appearing at the front elevation.
Apparently the opening date is being kept a secret.
Good News! 26/07/2012 The Hotel is now open under the new name of The Daffodil. See new blog post. The Daffodil Hotel Grasmere A new Beginning.