The Wordsworth Experience

By FMB on 

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Caption: Rainbow over Grasmere
Caption: Dove Cottage from above
Caption: Step back in time inside Dove Cottage

2020 marked the 250th anniversary of Wordsworth's birth and the long-planned reopening of Dove Cottage after a £6.2m transformation of the Grasmere site by The Wordsworth Trust, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. As we know things didn't quite go to plan in 2020, but all the more reason to support our local attractions. Changes at Dove Cottage include the restoration of its interiors, a display of Dorothy Wordsworth’s Grasmere Journal and a re-creation of the poet’s garden. There is also a new education space, listening posts, and a woodland area with walking trails. The upgraded museum features an expanded and modernised collection of manuscripts, books and fine art, alongside new galleries exploring the writer’s life and a rooftop viewing station overlooking Grasmere.

I have driven past so many times and I'm ashamed to say although I've lived in Cumbria all my life, this was my first visit to Dove Cottage. I was lucky to have a guided tour of the new visitor experience with Marie Batty, Sales and Marketing Manager. Marie has been instrumental in the project to reinvigorate the site in Grasmere.

Arriving in the beautiful light and airy reception, watching the moving orientation film and experiencing Dove Cottage and the gardens the sense of calm and connection to nature was simply fantastic. I arrived on a showery day with a chill in the air; the autumn colours in the garden were so beautiful. The cottage really did feel like William and Dorothy had just stepped out, with a welcoming fire burning in the grate. The gardens are sensitively planted and the views over Grasmere were framed with a rainbow just for me! The whole experience has been designed to capture the joy the two siblings found in the natural environment.

The gallery space is stunning and the works displayed in a coherent way with so much detail, you will need to visit more than once. There are spaces to sit and contemplate and hear the beautiful poetry read aloud and there are activities for children to ensure all ages can enjoy the exhibits.

So, as most of the exhibition is indoors it is a perfect way to spend a winter day, perhaps including a trip into Grasmere for lunch. You can plan your day on the website https://wordsworth.org.uk

Wordsworth Trust director Michael McGregor said: "We are excited to welcome visitors to Wordsworth Grasmere to celebrate ... one of our greatest poets. Inspired by Wordsworth’s own wish that his poetry ‘live and do good’, Reimagining Wordsworth will also celebrate the enduring significance and relevance of the poet in fresh and exciting ways. We look forward to welcoming diverse audiences from across the world to Wordsworth Grasmere to experience, in Wordsworth’s words: ‘The one sensation that is here’."

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