In 1871, when Ruskin was in his early Fifties, he purchased – on impulse and unseen – a dilapidated house on the shores of Coniston Water. This became his main home for nearly 30 years until his death in 1900. Ruskin’s love of the Lakes started as a child. His parents travelled to Scotland every year and always broke their journey in the Lake District. When he bought it, Brantwood was little more than a cottage; Ruskin altered and enlarged it, including the lovely lantern set in the corner of his bedroom.
Here, he could experiment with his gardens. He built a reservoir, and redirected the waterfall down the hills, added an ice house, and enlarged the harbour, from where he rowed his boat, the Jumping Jenny.
Brantwood is now a museum, exhibition space and arts centre with a rather splendid cafe, The Jumping Jenny, and is a favourite day out of ours.
Across the Water, the Ruskin Museum in Coniston is a fascinating Cabinet of Curiosities, crammed full of wonderful objects and paintings inspired by Ruskin’s love of geology, botany and the Lakes. It also includes a special exhibition on the Coniston Bluebird and Donald Campbell. Click here for more information about the Ruskin Museum.