Tag Archive | wordsworth

Prince Charles visits Grasmere

Could hardly not blog about our latest visitor to Grasmere, Prince Charles the Prince of Wales.

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Prince Charles visits Grasmere

After a very quiet village for several months it was wonderful to see such large crowds lining the streets as Prince Charles came to Grasmere to show his support for the Lake District after the December floods.

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Crowds gather in Grasmere

The local schoolchildren were very excited as they were led to the front.

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Grasmere schoolchildren arrive

Next to arrive was a painted sheep! Throughout the summer you can spot these individually designed sheep in various places. Raising funds for Calvert Trust http://www.goherdwick.co.uk Pick up a Trail map from various outlets and see how many you can spot.

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Herdwick Trail Sheep

And finally a car appeared round the corner

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Prince Charles arrives

Flags were waving and there was an air of great excitement.

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Prince Charles arrives in Grasmere

The Prince of Wales took his time and chatted to locals and visitors alike. Most amazing thing of all, till that point there had been a grey sky and drizzle all day, he arrived and the sun came out.

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Sunshine for Prince Charles

Prince Charles was accompanied on his visit by Claire Hensman who is the Lord Lieutenant  of Cumbria.

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Prince Charles and Claire Hensman

By this time the schoolchildren were getting really excited. Prince Charles headed over to them and he spoke to every single one. I was very impressed by how relaxed he was taking his time after a very busy itinerary all day.

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Chatting to Grasmere Schoolchildren

The Prince also noticed a lady holding a large England flag and headed over to her to chat.

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Chatting to the crowds

The sun was still thing and Prince Charles next went to the Grasmere Gingerbread shop.

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Prince Charles visits Grasmere Gingerbread Shop

He seemed to be enjoying a joke with owner Joanne Wilson, then disappeared inside for quite some time. It appears he was having a try at slicing gingerbread in the kitchen, however the Gingerbread recipe is a secret! Even to Royalty.

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Sharing a joke at Grasmere Gingerbread Shop

Now here is where the local knowledge comes in. Up until now I’d been balancing on the church wall, but jumped backwards into St Oswald’s Church grounds. Meanwhile everyone was waiting for Prince Charles to re-appear out of the front door.

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Waiting for the Prince

But he didn’t he came out through the back door and made his way across the graveyard to Wordsworth’s Grave. He was met here by Michael McGregor Director of the Wordsworth Trust and I got a great view.

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Director of Wordsworth Trust and Prince of Wales

It was wonderful that the Daffodils were out at Wordsworth’s Grave and Prince Charles took a little time for reflection.

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Prince Charles at Wordsworth’s Grave Grasmere

Prince Charles then headed through the graveyard towards the church where he was viewing an art installation by the local schoolchildren. Chatting to various locals on the way.

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Prince Charles in St Oswald’s Churchyard Grasmere

He spotted Grasmere Tea Gardens across the river and asking who owned it gave everyone sitting outside a cheery wave.

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Waving to visitors in Grasmere Tea Gardens

Stuart Cunninghams a local shop also got a chance to chat about business after the floods.

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Taking time to chat with local business owners

Then into the church.

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Prince Charles Grasmere 23/03/2016

The Prince of Wales visiting was what we all needed. Everything was feeling more positive, people on the streets, Easter this weekend and the clocks changing this weekend too. Just the A591 to re-open at hopefully Whit Bank holiday and we can all breathe a sigh of relief and try to make up for the business we have lost. Grasmere is well and truly open.

 

Spring at Allan Bank Grasmere

A beautiful Spring day. As Allan Bank in Grasmere (a National Trust Property unlike any  other) was open, I decided to take a wander up the hill and see what they were up to. This is the fifth year the property has been open and a while since I have written about it.

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Beatrix Potter and Daffodils

The property is a short walk from Grasmere (disabled parking on site) and has the most glorious views of Grasmere. The sun was shining and the daffodils were out. Lambs in the surrounding fields. Paradise!

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Allan Bank Grasmere

Grasmere school children were enjoying the grounds as part of their Forest Schools activities. It looked as though they were having an Easter egg hunt.

Allan Bank Art Room

Allan Bank Art Room

The Art Room had been changed around over the Winter. Anyone adult or child can just sit down and use the art material provided to paint the amazing view out of the window.

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Refreshing the flowers at Allan Bank

In the kitchen cafe one of the volunteers (they are always looking for more) Janet was making Easter floral arrangements to decorate the tables. Tea and coffee are by donation and you can wander around the house, tea in hand.

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Roaring fire in Wordsworth’s Study

Or if you are lucky grab a seat beside the roaring fire in Wordsworth’s Study, pick up a book and relax.

Allan Bank was once the home of Wordsworth and his young family but was also the home of Canon Hardwick Rawnsley one of the co-founders of the National Trust. This is the 150th Anniversary of Beatrix Potter’s Life and Canon Rawnsley was an inspiration to Beatrix when she was a young girl. He encouraged her creativity and also encouraged her in her love of the countryside.

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Beatrix Potter Quote Cushion

Scattered around the house were cushions with quotes. I particularly liked the ones in the play room.

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Peter Rabbit Cushions

The play room was just waiting for little Easter visitors with books and toys to enjoy.

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Playroom Allan Bank Grasmere

Allan Bank isn’t just for children. Upstairs is the Chorley Hopkins Mountaineering Library with a wealth of books on Mountaineering both in the Lake District and beyond.

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Mountaineering Library Allan Bank

Just along the corridor is a craft room where visiting crafters sometimes demonstrate lace making, printmaking etc. There are lots of vintage board games in here too. Looking out of the window you can quite often see the resident red squirrels but none today.

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View from Craft Room Allan Bank

Just time for a quick look in the little shop, but the grounds were calling. Sunshine in the Lake District can’t be wasted.

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Allan Bank Shop

In the grounds there is a fabulous woodland walk with great views. It is steep in places but well marked and resting places to be found. I had a little seat to look at the mere.

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View of the Mere from Allan Bank

Next further up the path with a glimpse of Helm Crag in sight.

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Allan Bank Woodland Walk

And finally Helm Crag in all it’s glory.

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Helm Crag Grasmere

Something that hasn’t changed this year, or for a long time before is the old Victorian viewing tunnel in the grounds.

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Tunnel in grounds Allan Bank Grasmere

Time for a last cup of tea and tempted to cake by Sophie to round off my visit.

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Tea and cake at Allan Bank

For more information about Allan Bank Grasmere see http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/allan-bank-and-grasmere

Follow them on Facebook. National Trust Allan Bank or Twitter. @AllanbankNT

My previous Blogs with the history of Allan Bank.

https://grasmerevillage.wordpress.com/2012/04/23/alan-bank-grasmere-unseen-for-200-years/

https://grasmerevillage.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/allan-bank-grasmere-a-new-beginning/

 

 

Grasmere and Daffodils

Spring is arriving at last in the village. We now have a lifeline in the form of a bus link to Keswick so we aren’t feeling quite so isolated, and the work on the A591 needed after Storm Desmond is progressing. We can be easily accessed from the South or by the scenic route over Kirkstone Pass to the North. It is always a lovely time to visit. Snow on the fell tops, daffodils appearing, shops stocked up for the new season and hotels all spruced up over the winter. Some good bargain breaks at this time of year too.

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Daffodils and snow in Grasmere

Today we had rain, sleet, snow and sunshine, and that was just the morning!

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Wordsworth and Daffodils

It’s a funny thing but I suppose we all have our own idea of when Spring has arrived. The thing I always look for are the daffodils starting to flower at Wordsworth’s grave. Well today there were daffodils appearing everywhere.

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Sam Read Bookshop Grasmere

Even in shop windows. This was a lovely Spring window display in Sam Read Bookshop and further down the road Herdy was getting in on the act too.

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Daffodil Herdy

Of course the Lake District is always associated with daffodils because of William Wordsworth’s famous poem. Grasmere has it’s very own daffodil garden and you can find part of the poem reproduced there.

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Wordsworth. Daffodils poem.

In the garden I would say the daffodils will be perfect just in time for Easter this year.

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Grasmere Daffodil Garden

I decided to head round the riverside walk through Broadgate, then to the Mere.

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Grasmere Sign Post

The Environment Agency have been dredging the River Rothay since the floods in December and as I approached the other day I was amazed to see that as the digger exited the river, three canoeists appeared and used the slipway to launch their canoes! A nice bit of positive thinking.

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Canoeists River Rothay

They paddled along and the next thing I spotted them in the Mere.

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Canoeists Grasmere

We might have had a lot of rain over the winter but another advantage is that everything is looking very lush and green at the moment. As you can see Grasmere is ready for the new season, all that is missing are the visitors. Get yourselves up here, you don’t know what you are missing!

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Spring crocus

Dove Cottage in the evening

Recently as part of the Museums at Night initiative Dove Cottage Grasmere, held three evenings for a limited amount of people to experience the cottage at night as it had been when it was an inn called the Dove and Olive Bough.

Dove Cottage Grasmere

Dove Cottage Grasmere

A welcome awaited with the sounds of the fiddle floating through the air.

Dove Cottage welcome

Dove Cottage welcome

The history of the house is referred to in William’s 1806 poem The Waggoner. “Where once the Dove and Olive bough offered a greeting of good ale to all who entered Grasmere Vale”. And on this occasion real ale was also supplied. It was wonderful to wander around the garden, drink in hand, on a balmy summer evening.

Dove Cottage Garden

Dove Cottage Garden

The sun was just setting on the village, and visitors had made their way home.

Dove Cottage Evening

Dove Cottage Evening

Walking further up the garden you come to a seat overlooking the rooftops.

Grasmere rooftops

Grasmere rooftops

The view would have been different in Wordsworth’s day of course as Dove Cottage was built on the old turnpike road, the view would have been much more open, the lake not obscured by the buildings on the “new” road that exists now.

It was getting chillier so we repaired inside for some real ale poetry and prose, with a few drinking songs thrown in for good measure.

End of Day Townend Grasmere

End of Day Town End Grasmere

To quote “The Waggoner” again we had to “leave it with a jovial heart” as time waits for no man, and neither does the 555 bus which was speeding some of our party home. A good night had by all. Thanks to http://wordsworth.org.uk Why not have a look and see what events are on when you next visit Grasmere Village.

 

 

Baneriggs Bluebells Grasmere

This has been a spectacular spring for bluebells in the Lake District. The very cold weather earlier in the year seems to have really helped them bloom.

Grasmere Bluebells

Grasmere Bluebells

I had visited Rannerdale, famous for it’s bluebells a few weeks ago, and had been just a bit early to see them in all their glory.

Baneriggs Wood Grasmere

Baneriggs Wood Grasmere

However there was no need to travel any further than Grasmere. Loughrigg Terrace was a sea of blue, and right beside the main road Baneriggs Wood was looking stunning from the main A591 road.  Baneriggs Wood is situated on the opposite side of the road from Penny Rock, the corner you go round as you approach Grasmere Lake. Did you know it is called this because a penny was added on to the rates to cover the cost of blasting through the rock to build the “new” turnpike road to Grasmere. Although the Rydal section was made about 1770, this section was not made until about 1831.

Carpet of Bluebells

Carpet of Bluebells

The light was just starting to fade but all around, a sea of blue. Bluebells prefer moist and shady conditions so the Lake District is perfect for them. Some estimates suggest that the UK has up to half of the world’s total bluebell population and most are found in woodland like these.

Beautiful Bluebell

Beautiful Bluebell

I am sure Wordsworth enjoyed the Bluebells when he went on his walks around Grasmere. The Romantic poets of the 19th Century, such as Keats and Tennyson, believed that the bluebell symbolised solitude and regret. Well despite being right beside the main road through the Lakes I was still able to find solitude and certainly wasn’t regretting my decision to have a wander through the woods!.

Woodland Bluebells

Woodland Bluebells

Grasmere is beautiful in all the seasons but when the fell side is tinged in blue, it is certainly a sight to behold.

 

 

Wordsworth and Snow in Grasmere

Wordsworth is always all around when you visit Grasmere, however sometimes more than expected! We have had a huge amount of snow this week. Imagine everyone’s surprise when despite a blizzard blowing, the valiant servants from Wordsworth House in Cockermouth made their way up the valley to Allan Bank in Grasmere.

Windswept Servants

Windswept Servants

The visit had been planned a few weeks ago but with blizzards, snow and roads closed no one had expected them to even set off!

Wordsworth's Study

Wordsworth’s Study

But these servants from Wordsworth’s birthplace were made of stern stuff and it wasn’t long before they were warming themselves in front of the fire in Wordsworth’s Study.

Looking towards Dove Cottage Grasmere

Looking towards Dove Cottage Grasmere

Warmed by the fire and a welcome cup of tea the servants explored Allan Bank. Wordsworth moved here from Dove Cottage, and I did spot a servant giving a wistful look down the valley in that direction.

Reading Wordsworth

Reading Wordsworth

Time for a recital of some poetry. Wonder if it was “I wandered Lonely as a Cloud” as some of the other servants were spotted admiring some Daffodils!

Admiring Daffodils

Admiring Daffodils

Wordsworth spent a lot of his time walking the fells, and frequently walked from Grasmere to Ambleside to collect the mail. I imagine he would have loved a map like this to plan his journeys.

We travelled from here.

We travelled from here.

One last look out of the window before heading off through the snow to visit Dove Cottage and the Rydal Mount.

Through the window Allan Bank

Through the window Allan Bank

Group photo on the doorstep before setting off into the blizzard again.

Servants from Wordsworth House

Servants from Wordsworth House

We are so lucky to have all the History that Wordsworth brought to this area. In Grasmere alone we have the Wordsworth Trust and Dove Cottage, Wordsworth’s family grave in St Oswald’s churchyard, Robert Newton’s Inn at Church stile where he stayed and drank (now a National Trust shop), the Yew trees he planted in the churchyard, and Allan Bank where he lived, now a National Trust property open to the public. Add in Wordsworth House at Cockermouth and Rydal Mount and it is a literary feast in Cumbria.

Now about these servants…..

Wordsworth servants at Allan Bank

Wordsworth servants at Allan Bank

They wrapped their shawls warmly around them and set off,

Allan Bank

Allan Bank

A long cold walk to the village,

Back to the Village

Back to the Village

Next stop Dove Cottage, another Home from Home.

Home from Home Allan Bank

Home from Home Allan Bank

Allan Bank Grasmere. Unseen for 200 years.

Across Grasmere Lake to Allan Bank

Driving from Ambleside to Grasmere and coming round Penny Rock, the first thing you see is a building standing proud at the head of the Easdale Valley. How many people must have thought “Who lives in a house like that?”. Well really it should be “Who lived in a house like that?”.

Early morning Allan Bank

It’s a house with a story to tell, so here we go. At the time that Allan Bank was built, Wordsworth was living in Dove Cottage. Along comes a Liverpool Attorney named Mr Crump and decides to build a house slap bang in the way of Wordsworth’s uninterrupted view of the Easdale Valley. At this time Dove Cottage did not have the houses of Lake Terrace in front of it, they were built at a later date, and with the living room of Dove Cottage being upstairs it must have been an annoyance right enough!

Temple of Abomination

Wordsworth 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.

View from Allan Bank

A few years later, Dove Cottage had become too small for Wordsworth and his growing family and they ended up as tenants of Allan Bank. Summers were idyllic, and Wordsworth had quite a bit to do with the planning and planting of the grounds. Winters were not quite so idyllic, with chimneys that smoked back into the rooms, filling Dorothy with despair as everything was covered in soot. They lived at Allan Bank for several years, with Coleridge and De Quincy frequently staying or visiting and quite often about 15 people there at the weekends.

Exterior Allan Bank

Another famous tenant of Allan Bank was Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley. One of the founders of National Trust. He moved there with his second wife Eleanor who outlived him and was a very active participant in village life. She died in 1959 and is well remembered by older villagers. The house had been left to the National Trust by Canon Rawnsley with the understanding that Eleanor be allowed to live on in it till her death.

There then followed several tenants, and that’s how it would have stayed, had it not gone on fire in 2011. The fire was caused by an electrical fire in the roof.

Charred remains Allan Bank

One of the largest fires Grasmere has ever seen, fire engines came from all around. The current tenants escaped unscathed but the building was a sorry sight. Wrapped in plastic sheeting for most of last year it was hard to imagine that any good could come from it.

Internal damage Allan Bank

Spring forward to April 2012 and National Trust have now opened the house to the public. Great excitement in the village about the news that we would finally see inside the building.

View from Allan Bank

Not like any other National Trust house I have ever been in, you are met with a sign saying “Don’t knock just come in”. Next surprise is, it is warm and homely despite being left with the bare bones showing.

Friendship Room Allan Bank

Each room has a theme, Friendship, Garden, Writing etc.

Heaton Cooper Room Allan Bank

There is even a Heaton Cooper room, with information about the famous Grasmere Artists. You can draw or paint your own masterpiece here.

Express yourself. Allan Bank

The idea is to see what people think should be done with the building. With this in mind areas of wall have been left for comments.

Comments at Allan Bank

It is very interesting to see what people are thinking and feeling about the house. Coffee and newspapers are provided and with the fire lit, it’s a perfect place to escape.

Fireplace Allan Bank

You can also wander around and find your favourite room. Twinings tea is also available. Why Twinings you ask? Well when Wordsworth lived at Allan Bank he wasn’t keen on the tea available in Grasmere, and used to send to Twinings in London for tea chests of tea to be delivered. Apparently he spent about £1,500 a year with them. He must have liked his tea! And I am pleased to say the tea available in Grasmere these days is much improved!.

View from Allan Bank

The views from Allan Bank are spectacular and everyone seems to enter the rooms and gravitate towards the window. I have been there several times and even when the weather isn’t so good, the views still amaze.

Snowy view Allan Bank

The grounds of Allan Bank are another reason to visit. The National Trust Rangers could be seen working hard for months, cutting back trees and making paths.

National Trust Rangers Allan Bank

The first thing you see when you go outside is a building that looks like a chapel. It was apparently a billiard room.

Window Detail Alan Bank

It must have been a very nice billiard room, with stained glass windows and lovely detail on the door.

Door Detail Allan Bank

Also in the grounds is a Victorian viewing tunnel.

Viewing Tunnel Allan Bank

The Rangers have also created a woodland walk. Fairly steep in places but with wonderful views of Helm Crag and Dunmail Raise.

View of Helm Crag from Allan Bank

So the next time you are in Grasmere why not wander up the road at the side of the Miller Howe Cafe and discover Allan Bank for yourself. What should be done with it in the future? It’s time to have your say.

Allan Bank a house with a view.

Prince of Wales Hotel Grasmere, Then and Now.

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?”.

Browns Lake Hotel.

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.

Browns Lake Hotel

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.

Prince of Wales Hotel Grasmere.

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.

Prince of Wales Hotel Grasmere.

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.

Present day Prince of Wales Grasmere.

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.

Looking “through” the Hotel.

Eventually after three attempts the plans were passed on the premise that “All the bulk of the original building will be left intact”.

Current state of the hotel.

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.

Through the hoarding.

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”.

Prince of Wales Hotel Grasmere.

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.

Boathouse Prince of Wales Hotel, Grasmere.

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.

Work has started

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.

Roadside view

As you can see things are actually moving, but there is still a long way to go.

View to back of hotel

I will keep posting photos as the work progresses, let’s hope we are soon seeing a big improvement.

Boarded up front

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.

Work is in progress at Waterside Hotel 

You can see the shape of the old hotel appearing at the front elevation.

Waterside Hotel Grasmere Aug. 2011

Apparently the opening date is being kept a secret.

Towards Silver Howe Grasmere

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.

Grasmere Daffodil Garden

Grasmere Daffodils

Was walking along past the church in Grasmere when I spotted new stones being laid in the Daffodil Garden. This only happens a few times a year.

Laying stones, Grasmere Daffodil Garden.

Grasmere Daffodil Garden opened in 2003. A piece of waste land near the church was chosen to try and emulate Wordsworth’s famous poem.

“I wandered lonely as a cloud, that floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd, a host of golden daffodils.

The plan is to have 10,000 wild daffodils blowing in the breeze.

Daffodil Garden, Grasmere.

The idea of the garden is to raise funds to promote the heritage of the Vale of Grasmere and it’s traditional ways of Lake District life. This is achieved by selling Daffodil bulbs, which mean you can put down “some roots in Grasmere” yourself.

Laying stones, Grasmere Daffodil Garden.

You can also buy a stone which is engraved with your name and home town. This is laid in the form of a path through the garden. Once the path is finished, sponsorship closes. The stones are made of Lakeland slate, and tend to be bought by people who have a fondness for Grasmere. It isn’t a memorial garden, more a celebration of Grasmere. Donors names are entered in the Book of friends displayed in St Oswalds Church.

Slate stones

The charities sponsored by the garden are, The Friends of St. Oswald’s. St Oswald’s church has over 100,000 visitors per year which obviously  takes it’s toll on the building. The money helps to pay for it’s renovation and maintenance.

St Oswald's overlooks the garden.

Another charity to benefit is The Lakeland Housing Trust. Because so many houses are snapped up as holiday homes, it becomes more and more difficult to find affordable housing for locals. The Trust buys and lets homes to young families at a subsidised rent.

River Rothay from Daffodil Garden.

The Wordsworth Trust is another beneficiary, helping to preserve the literary heritage of the poet’s bond with Grasmere. His grave overlooks the garden.

Grasmere Daffodil Garden

And finally, The National Trust gets donations to help farmers to maintain country features which would be difficult otherwise because of low hill farm incomes.

So the next time you are in Grasmere enjoy the peace of the daffodil garden knowing that it is helping preserve the beautiful Vale of Grasmere.

Grasmere Daffodil Garden

Grasmere Gingerbread Shop.

Mention Grasmere anywhere in the World and the first thing people usually say is “Oh that’s where the gingerbread comes from” followed by “and didn’t Wordsworth use to live there”.

Happy at work, Grasmere Gingerbread Shop.

Situated in a little shop in the corner of Grasmere Churchyard, both the gingerbread and the building have an interesting history. I collect old postcards of Grasmere and have one of the Gingerbread Shop as it used to be in about 1860.

Old Postcard, Grasmere Gingerbread Shop.

The building was originally known as Gate Cottage built about 1630, and served as the village school. This was at a time when education wasn’t compulsory and locals paid a penny a day for their boys to attend. William Wordsworth actually taught at the school and his children attended it.

The old school clock

Many of the fixtures and fittings in the gingerbread shop come from the  school. This clock originally cost two shillings and sixpence.

Old School Slate

When Education did become compulsory a new school was built and the Nelson family took over the tenancy, in about 1854. Sarah Nelson had previously worked for Lady Farquhar who lived in Dale Lodge at the time and she was encouraged by Lady Farquhar’s chef to set up her little business.

The Original Grasmere Gingerbread.

Sarah used to sell Helvellyn cake, aerated water and of course her special recipe of Gingerbread. Almost from the start she wrapped the gingerbread in pure vegetable parchment printed “None genuine without trademark”. The Gingerbread is still wrapped in parchment and sealed with a rubber band. The packaging really appeals to the Japanese and other lovers of our history and heritage.

Eager customers, Grasmere Gingerbread Shop.

There is always a queue from morning till closing time at the Gingerbread shop. Because of the size of the building it quite often snakes outside and along the street. While Andrew and his team do their best, baking it fresh every morning, it can run out, so an early visit is recommended. And if you enjoy it, you still have time to go back for more!.

Grasmere Gingerbread shop window.

I wonder how many hungry faces have peeped in this window over the years. Many famous visitors have graced it’s steps.

Royal approval

TV chef Phil Vickery actually used to work as a trainee chef in Grasmere years ago and has always had a soft spot for Grasmere Gingerbread and includes it in his list of “Best of British Produce”. Another chef to praise it is Jamie Oliver who said “Grasmere Gingerbread is the best i’ve eaten” . Grasmere attracts many famous folk, Tom Cruise, Nicole KIdman and Alan Whicker have all visited at some time.

Wrapping and Packing.

Grasmere Gingerbread is posted all over the world and it really is a full time job wrapping and packing it.

Grasmere Gingerbread Shop.

This little shop is the only place where you can buy the genuine article. And no matter how hard you try to recreate it, it never tastes the same. The recipe is a secret and is stored in the bank vaults at the NatWest Bank in Ambleside.

Every one has there own way of enjoying it. My favourite is to make a lemon cheesecake base with it, delicious!. Enjoy with a cup of tea or a whisky or of course enjoy it just on it’s own. I’ve managed to eat a whole packet while writing this, thanks to Andrew, the “Gingerbread Man”. But my excuse is, ginger is good for you. A last personal tip. Anytime I am travelling by boat I always take a bit to nibble. We were once the only ones not seasick on a trip across the North Sea. Thank you Grasmere Gingerbread!.

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