Sykehouse Cottage

A beautiful C17th Holiday Cottage in the Lake District


Arts Round Up for the New Year 2016

2015-AH-Canaletto-HAbbot Hall, Blackwell House and the Wordsworth Museum in Grasmere are all favourite trips out for us when we are staying at Sykehouse Cottage.  I sometimes think people forget about these fine museums in their haste to get up a mountain …

Abbott Hall Art Gallery in Kendal have the fabulous “Canaletto: Celebrating Britain” running until 14 February 2016.  “Canaletto makes you feel as if you’re wandering around with your eyeballs cleaned.” Robert Clark, Guardian Guide Oct 2015

Abbot Hall Art Gallery: until 14 February 2016

2016-Laura-Ford-HThen from 11 March, both Abbott Hall and Blackwell will be showing “Laura Ford: Sculpture and Drawings”.   Located at Blackwell on the lawns, with select pieces in the main house and at Abbot Hall, this exhibition will comprise Ford’s earlier work together with new sculptures.  Laura Ford describes her work as sculptures dressed as people who are dressed as animals, as they meld together ideas of childhood memory with a disturbing edge.

Abbot Hall Art Gallery: 11 March – 25 June 2016
Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House: 11 March – 4 September 2016

fillThe Wordsworth Museum in Grasmere has  its “Shepherds to Charabancs” exhibition running until 28 February.   Subtitled “Changing Life in Grasmere 1800 to 1900” the show has been inspired by a recent addition to the museum an 1859 survey map of Grasmere.  Curated by The Grasmere History Society the exhibition explains the transformation of Grasmere through local stories and brought alive with objects belonging to local residents as well as maps, artefacts and images from the Wordsworth Trust’s collection.

The Wordsworth Museum : until 28 February.

Abbot Hall, Blackwell House and the Wordsworth Museum in Grasmere are all favourite trips out for us when we are staying at Sykehouse Cottage.


Dorothy’s Christmas Birthday

dorothy-wordsworths-christmas-birthday-978144727150501

“Up, rapt at her gate,
Dorothy Wordsworth ages
one year in an hour;

her Christmas birthday
inventoried by an owl,
clock-eyed, time-keeper.”

It was published as a small hardback book by panmacmillan in 2014 and is a perfect Lake District Christmas present.


Museums at Night Festival 2013

2013 Museums at NightThere is something deliciously exciting about being somewhere you are not normally allowed – especially at night.  Here in the South Lakes there are some fun things to do over the 16 – 18th May as part of the national Museums at Night Festival.

‘a greeting of good ale’ 16 May 7.30-9.00 £4 Dove Cottage. Wordsworth is famously known as the “simple water-drinking bard”, but the archives tell a different story.  Discover more about the history of Dove Cottage, formerly the Dove and Olive-Bough Inn,  and enjoy a free beer and food tasting.   Further details at The Wordsworth Trust website here.

Arts & Crime, Murder at Blackwell 16 May at 5.30, 6.30, 7.30, 8.30. Free but limited to 15 so booking essential.  You’ve mistakenly entered the end of a dinner party in the 1920s: what has happened and is someone still ‘at large’? Let the theatre company, Bear Necessities, lead you through Blackwell in search of the culprit.  Further details at the Blackwell website here.

Dozing at Dove Cottage 17 May & Secret Sleepover 18 – 19 May Dove Cottage  Dozing at Dove Cottage, for 14+, will be an eventful evening of activities exploring the cottage, a bite to eat, and a movie marathon followed by the sleepover.  Listen to some ghostly tales on the torch-lit trail and enjoy twilight arts & crafts activities before setting up camp in the museum for the night!  The Secret Sleepover is for children aged 7 – 13 years old, but adults will enjoy it too – a minimum of 1 adult for every 5 children. £10 pp includes breakfast, accommodation and materials for activities. Further details at The Wordsworth Trust website here.

Cranium Sculptorades at Abbot Hall 18 May From 6.00pm, games start after 7 until 10.  Free event, just turn up on the night!  Why stay in and play board games when the Lakeland Arts Trust team is challenging teams of visitors to a giant game of Cranium Sculptorades? Further details at the Abbot Hall website here.


1 Comment

Dorothy’s Daffodils

On Thursday 15th April 1802, Dorothy Wordsworth wrote in her journal:

‘… I never saw daffodils so beautiful they grew among the mossy stones about & about them, some rested theirwordsworth daffodils heads upon these stones as on a pillow for weariness & the rest tossed & reeled & danced & seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them over the Lake, they looked so gay ever glancing ever changing. This wind blew directly over the lake to them. There was here & there a little knot & a few stragglers a few yards higher up but they were so few as not to disturb the simplicity & unity & life of that one busy highway…”’

Two years later, her brother wrote: “I wandered lonely as a cloud …”, his wife, Mary, contributing what Wordsworth later said were the best two lines in the poem : “They flash upon that inward eye / Which is the bliss of solitude”.  This group collaboration for such an iconic poem always makes me think of how many other unseen contributors there must be to great works of art.

If you need a little inspiration, why not come to Sykehouse Cottage in March and search for wild Wordsworthian daffodils?  Wild daffodils are simpler and shorter than the tall, fancy ruffle cultivars we see in gardens.  They like to grow on damp ground under trees.  Dorothy and William Wordsworth found theirs at Ullswater but wild daffodils are more common in the South Lakes.  Probably the best place to see them from Sykehouse Cottage is on the banks of the Duddon.  A short drive and a lovely walk to find your own secret “host of golden daffodils”.

For further information about the Wordsworths and their time in the Lakes, including Dorothy’s journals, you should really visit Dove Cottage.  It’s open every day with a host of things to do and is just a 40 minute drive from Sykehouse cottage through beautiful countryside.  Follow this link to Dove Cottage.

If you would read another post about Wordsworth : The Westmorland Girl :  click here.


1 Comment

Wordsworth’s The Westmorland Girl

In 1845, Wordsworth aged 75  wrote a poem to his grandchildren about a free spirited orphan girl who rescued a lamb from drowning:

“And the bleating mother’s Young-one, / Struggled with the flood in vain; / But, as chanced, a Cottage-maiden / (Ten years scarcely had she told) / Seeing, plunged into the torrent, / Clasped the Lamb and kept her hold.”

And, taking this one incident, the old man then inflated her brave and dramatic gesture to more lofty and inspiring heights for the younger members of his family:

“Watchful as a wheeling eagle, / Constant as a soaring lark, / Should the country need a heroine, / She might prove our Maid of Arc.”

This “Maid of Arc”, Sarah Davies, came to live in Broughton-in-Furness and was buried in an unmarked grave on 4th September 1872 aged 37, a week after giving birth to a baby boy.

According to HV Koop who wrote a history of the town, a wreath was laid on her grave at the Wordsworth Centenary in 1950 and our local historian, Wal Greenhalgh, did much sleuthing to verify the facts.  A Sarah Mackereth was born in Grasmere in 1834 (or 5) and she married Samuel Davies in 1867.  The family moved to Broughton after the census of 1871 and in a town directory of 1876 there’s an entry for Samuel Davis as the farm bailiff at Eccleriggs.

When I contacted the staff at Wordworth Trust, they were delighted with this nugget of Wordsworthalia and Rebecca Turner, the Assistant Curator, added a little extra information from their collections:  in a letter of 1834, Wordsworth writes: “The little Poem which I ventured to send you lately I thought might interest you on account of the fact as exhibiting what sort of characters our mountains breed. It is truth to the Letter”.  Fabulous! … what sort of characters our mountains breed”.

How did they know where to lay the wreath?

According to Wal Greenhalgh, the Vicar of the time wrote in the margin of the Parish Register: “Wordsworth’s Westmorland Girl” next to her name and, with great good fortune, the Barrow Record Office holds the Sexton’s notebook which details: “interred between Hancock’s tombstone of Myreside and William Fleming’s tombstone.”westmorland girl

If you would like to go and pay your respects in St Mary Magdalene’s churchyard, follow these instructions: from the South east corner of the church walk, at right angles to the church, into the graves (minding the crocuses and snowdrops!).  As you walk, keep looking to you right, soon as you come parallel to a sundial monument some graves away and half hidden by a tree, you’re at the spot. Find Jacob Knight’s tombstone (pictured), which is between Hancock’s and Fleming’s grave, and her unmarked grave is there, roughly under Jacob Knight’s.

If you would read another post about Wordsworth : Dorothy’s Daffodils :  click here.