Wherever you travel in the Lakes it is likely you will stumble upon some connection to William Wordsworth. In Cockermouth is Wordsworth House where he was born, in Grasmere is the beautiful Dove Cottage where he lived between 1799 and 1808 and where he wrote some of his most famous poems and not far away at Rydal is Rydal Mount, a home he rented for 46 years. All three properties are open to the public, with Dove Cottage probably the most popular, owned by the Wordsworth Trust and the home of many artefacts and original works by the poet and author. Rydal Mount was his most ‘beloved’ home and retains much of its original attraction. It also commands a wonderful view over nearby Rydal Water. Holker Hall near Cartmel remains a major attraction for both the magnificent building and the beautiful gardens. It is the home of the Cavendish family and is renowned for its elegance and style. It is a similar case with Blackwell, once the holiday home of a Manchester brewer, Sir Edward Holt. Built on the slopes above Windermere it is widely regarded as one of the most important Arts and Crafts houses in England and still retains almost all the original features including wonderful stained glass, wood carving, vibrant fireside tiling, plasterwork and stone carving. That sort of presentation care has also been taken at Brantwood, once the home of John Ruskin the Victorian artist, writer, critic, conservationist, social reformer and poet. He lived at Brantwood, beside Coniston Water, for the last 28 years of his life. Today this much visited home reveals a lot about the beliefs, talents and interests of this extraordinary man. Cumbria is dotted with fine historic homes, each with its own special attractions. Haunted Muncaster Castle near Ravenglass is home to the World Owl Centre; Dalemain near Ullswater began life as a pele tower in the 12th century, had a second tower and manor hall added in the 14th Century, then two wings 200 years later and finally an impressive Georgian east front in 1744; and wonderful wood carving and panelling are the striking features of Sizergh Castle and Levens Hall, both near Kendal. Further north, Carlisle Castle is always worth a visit to study the massive medieval structure, built to protect the ancient city from feuding Scots. Not far away and near to Hadrians Wall stand the ruins of the Augustinian monastery, Lanercost Priory a refuge for Edward 1 from one of his bloody border campaigns. Travel south and then west along the Furness peninsular and you come to Furness Abbey. This Cistercian monastery contains an exhibition displaying the wealth of the religious community based in and around the abbey. The sandstone ruins are celebrated by Wordsworth in his Prelude. Back into the National Park itself, there is Hill Top at Near Sawrey which belonged to Beatrix Potter; Hutton-in-the-Forest near Penrith, like Dalemain, began life as a pele tower while Mirehouse near Keswick has strong literary associations, with Alfred Tennyson, Robert Southey, Thomas Carlyle as well as William Wordsworth.
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