April 2020 will see the 250th anniversary of the birth of one of the world’s most celebrated poets, William Wordsworth.
In anticipation of this major event, The Wordsworth Trust today (xx March 2019) announces further plans for Reimagining Wordsworth, a £6.2 million project to bring Wordsworth’s story into the 21st century, highlight his relevance today and present a greater sense of intellectual, emotional and spiritual appreciation for his work than ever before.
Culminating in April 2020, the project will preserve and enhance the signiﬁcance of Dove Cottage in Grasmere. After years of wandering and restless uncertainty in the wake of the French Revolution, Wordsworth returned to his native Cumbria to make a home with his sister Dorothy. They settled in this small house on the edge of Grasmere for what would be Wordsworth’s most prolific period of writing, where he would revolutionise English poetry forever.
William Wordsworth was a pioneering writer and an early environmentalist renowned for revolutionising English poetry and celebrating the importance of our relationship with the natural world. Inviting a broader and more diverse range of visitors to immerse themselves in his world, Reimagining Wordsworth will explore his radical ideas, and share the life-enriching power of his poetry. Transforming the site and visitor experience, it will realise the full potential of the Wordsworth Trust’s heritage and Wordsworth’s ground-breaking legacy.
The Wordsworth Museum, which houses a unique and internationally significant collection of Wordsworth’s manuscripts, books and fine art, will be expanded and modernised with new galleries and an introductory exhibition. Wordsworth’s manuscripts will be interpreted using new methods, making the experience more interactive and engaging, and contemporary voices will celebrate their modern-day relevance to give visitors a closer insight into his poetry, ideas and process of composition.
The project will draw on the expertise of world-leading specialists in the ﬁeld of architecture, heritage, conservation and interpretation. Dove Cottage will undergo an authentic restoration recreating the home that the Wordsworths would have known in 1800. An introductory film will set the scene and, in the garden behind Dove Cottage, the orchard that the Wordsworths lovingly maintained will also be recreated. The cottage will provide a greater insight into their daily life in the place where Wordsworth produced the most famous and best-loved poems, and his sister Dorothy wrote her fascinating Grasmere Journal which will be returned to be displayed in its original home.
Wordsworth described Grasmere, now the heart of a newly designated World Heritage Site, as ‘the loveliest spot that man hath ever found’. To mark the intrinsic link between his writing and the local landscape, the project will also open up a woodland space, promote new walking trails, and create a new courtyard in the heart of the site. A viewing station will also enable visitors to connect Wordsworth’s poetry to the landscape that inspired him. Local residents will be closely involved through their contribution to sound points throughout the hamlet, bringing Wordsworth’s story to life in their own voice, and in the creation of a community sensory garden, a place for contemplation and relaxation. This garden will incorporate local plants and materials from the Wordsworth’s time and feature a moss hut, which will be a newly interpreted design of the structure that was built in the Dove Cottage garden by the Wordsworths as a sanctuary for creativity, conversation and reflection.
In the lead up to the anniversary, the project will reach out to both local and global lovers of Wordsworth’s work, inviting them to recreate their own version of the moss hut.
A learning space will accommodate a new programme of year-round events for visitors of all ages and abilities. It will bring poetry to more people through pop-up events, exhibitions and workshops, engaging community groups, schools and colleges with daily events during term-time, evening events for adults and family activities at weekends and holiday times. It will develop a lasting relationship with audiences and partners by providing meaningful connections to Wordsworth by harnessing visitors’ creativity through the connection between people, poetry and place.
Reimagining Wordsworth will provide a greater sense of intellectual, emotional and spiritual appreciation than ever before. Placing greater emphasis on the health and wellbeing benefits of engaging in creativity and the natural landscape, the project will introduce new activities and opportunities to learn and connect with the poet’s work. Visitors will learn more about the Wordsworths’ life, ideas and philosophies, and build a greater connection between these and our own ideas around landscape, environmentalism and living with nature. These personal stories and reflections will bring emotion to the forefront of the visitor experience and the animation of outdoor spaces around Dove Cottage and Town End will encourage a sense of mindfulness and acknowledgement of Wordsworth’s lifelong philosophy of the restorative power of nature.
Reimagining Wordsworth is being supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund with a grant of £4.1 million. The grant was awarded after a successful campaign to secure over £1 million in match funding. Further major grants and donations were received from South Lakeland District Council, visitors to Dove Cottage, supporters across the UK and internationally, and numerous charitable trusts and foundations. Major funders include the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (through the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund), Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, the Wolfson Foundation, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Linbury Trust and the Foyle Foundation.
The Wordsworth Trust is working with architects Purcell and exhibition designers and interpretation specialists Nissen Richards Studio, and it obtained planning permission for the project from the Lake District National Park Authority in December 2017.
F. Parkinson Ltd has been appointed as contractor to carry out the restorations and other building work. Based in Blackpool, Parkinsons have extensive experience of working with heritage organisations and on historic buildings, and where possible they will be employing local subcontractors who are used to working with the materials that help give the site its special character. They will start work on 18 March and phase the work to keep Dove Cottage open for as much of the 2019 summer season as possible.
The Wordsworth Trust is also pleased to announce the engagement of five new trustees to support the project in this new chapter. These are Simon Bainbridge, Professor of Romantic Studies in the Department of English and Creative Writing at Lancaster University, Gesa Brinkman, former Trustee of the Printing Charity and senior finance professional at FTSE 100 companies including AstraZeneca and Pearson, Anna Fleming, Projects Manager for Edinburgh International Book Festival, Jo Goode, Head Teacher at Grasmere Primary School since 2006, and David McKitterick, a former Trustee of the Wordsworth Trust and Emeritus Professor of Historical Bibliography at the University of Cambridge, a Syndic of Cambridge University Press and a Fellow of the British Academy.
Michael McGregor, Director of the Wordsworth Trust, says:
‘We are delighted to announce further plans for Reimagining Wordsworth in the lead of up to the national 250th anniversary celebrations. Wordsworth the poet was a revolutionary whose work and ideas are still relevant to our lives today. By taking a fresh new look at his work, the project will bring his story up to date, welcome old and new audiences – both locally and globally – and transform Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum into a dynamic destination for creativity, inspiration and enjoyment.’
Bettany Hughes, historian, author, broadcaster and close friend of the Wordsworth Trust, says:
‘Wordsworth’s searing ideas and his sheer delight in the beauty of the world around him make him one of the most insightful of all poets. I often find myself turning to his words. His sentiment that humanity has many faces but one human heart is one I carry with me. His beautiful, brilliant ideas are still relevant to contemporary audiences today and I’m delighted to see this influence and his values celebrated as part of Reimagining Wordsworth.’
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Notes to Editors
William Wordsworth (1770-1850) was the greatest and most representative poet in the age of Romanticism, the revolutionary period whose ideas and values (democracy, individual rights, our relationship with nature and the power of the human mind) define the modern world.
Wordsworth lived at Dove Cottage during his ‘golden decade’ (1799–1808) when he wrote most of what is considered his best work, including ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’, arguably the most well-known poem in English. Dove Cottage is also where his sister Dorothy kept the private diaries that are now celebrated as the Grasmere Journal.
The Wordsworth Trust has been providing a ‘living memorial’ to William Wordsworth at Dove Cottage in Grasmere since 1891. Today, Dove Cottage attracts people of all ages from across the world. Delighted, uplifted and inspired by the power of Wordsworth’s poetry in this unique place, its visitors discover just as Wordsworth did that ‘nowhere else is found, the one sensation that is here’.
Nissen Richards Studio was established in 2010. We are a London-based design studio that evolved from a collaboration between architecture and theatre design. Today, we are a multidisciplinary practice that works across architecture, exhibitions, graphic design, theatre, story-telling, film and animation. At its core, our work is about creating spaces that stimulate experiences.
Having a broad range of skills and expertise gives us the flexibility to work across varied projects, from small scale experimental theatre designs, exhibitions and architecture commissions, to large scale residential, commercial and cultural buildings.
As a practice, we are thoughtful and imaginative, and take great pride in our work being of the highest quality. Collaboration, listening and dialogue are central to our working methodology, and as a curator of multiple creative fields, we are able to offer new design perspectives. Throughout all our work, we create clear systems of thinking, working and communicating, systems that are fully integrated in the overall design process. We have a thirst for excellence and a curiosity of the world that translates to beautifully crafted spaces for people to experience, feel and enjoy.
www.nissenrichardsstudio.com | Twitter: @NISSENRICHARDS
Purcell is one of the world’s leading design practices with more than 70 years’ experience as architects, master planners and heritage consultants operating across regions of the UK and Asia Pacific. The AJ100 architectural practice has provided expert consultancy and design services as architects, designers, heritage and specialist consultants on many of the UK’s best-known buildings. In London alone, Purcell has worked on the restoration of Kensington Palace, Tower Bridge and the National Maritime Museum.
www.purcelluk.com |Twitter: @Purcelluk |Instagram: @Purcell.Architecture
About the National Lottery Heritage Fund
Using money raised by the National Lottery, the National Lottery Heritage Fund inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future.
www.heritagefund.org.uk | Twitter @HeritageFundUK |Facebook and Instagram: #NationalLotteryHeritageFund
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, through the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund
The Wolfson Foundation is an independent charity that supports and promotes excellence in the fields of science, health, education and the arts and humanities. Since it was established in 1955, over £900 million (£1.9 billion in real terms) has been awarded to more than 11,000 projects throughout the UK, all on the basis of expert review.
www.wolfson.org.uk | @wolfsonfdn
Established over 60 years ago in 1958, the Garfield Weston Foundation is a family-founded, grant-making charity which supports causes across the UK with grants around £70 million annually. It has donated over £1 billion to charities since it was established.
One of the most respected charitable institutions in the UK, the Weston Family Trustees are descendants of the founder and take a highly active and hands-on approach. The Foundation’s funding comes from an endowment of shares in the family business, which includes Twinings, Primark, Kingsmill (all part of Associated British Foods Plc) and Fortnum & Mason, amongst others – a successful model that still endures today; as the business have grown so too have the charitable donations.
From small community organisations to large national institutions, the Foundation supports a broad range of charities and activities that make a positive impact in the communities in which they work. More than 1,800 charities across the UK benefit each year from the Foundation’s grants.
The Foyle Foundation is an independent grant making Trust supporting UK charities which, since its formation in 2001, has become a major funder of the Arts and Learning. The Foundation also operates a community small grants programme and a national school library improvement scheme.
South Lakeland District Council works in partnership with key cultural strategic partners to encourage and promote cultural arts and events throughout the district. The council’s sustained approach to cultural investments is designed to enrich communities and boost the local economy. The council works in partnership with Arts Council England and cultural organisations to help facilitate, enable and fund some significant initiatives to promote South Lakeland as the premier rural area for arts, events and festivals. Key cultural events that the council has supported through 2017/18 include the Lakes Comic Art Festival, Lakes International Art Festival and Kendal Mountain Festival.