This exhibition will be running from 8th April 2017 - 27th June 2017.

As part of the ongoing project to ‘Reimagine Wordsworth’, Jeff Cowton (Curator of the Wordsworth Trust) and Dr Christopher Donaldson (Lecturer in Regional History, Lancaster University) met with members of the Duddon Valley History Group to talk about their responses to locations throughout the valley that are mentioned in Wordsworth’s sonnets. Through a combination of examining photographs, exploring Wordsworth’s words, and listening to individuals sharing their own experiences and inherited associations with the landscape, these meetings provided a fascinating insight into people’s relationship with the wild and beautiful Duddon Valley.

Using these conversations as a starting point, artist Nikki Pugh then worked with Dr Donaldson to create this exhibition, which investigates landscape, history and memory in the Duddon Valley.

Located in the south of the Lake District, Duddon Valley was home to prehistoric and Roman remains, medieval longhouses, and ancient farming communities. It has a strong industrial past (mills, quarrying and an iron furnace) and nowadays attracts tourists ranging from fell walkers and mountain bikers through to those taking a more leisurely approach to exploring the area.

The Duddon was a significant influence on William and Dorothy Wordsworth, and features in a series of sonnets by William. Part of the project will also support the Wordsworth Trust to explore the links between the Wordsworths, the landscape of the valley and the people there now.

In 1820, William Wordsworth published a series of sonnets that celebrate and explore the landscape of the Duddon Valley, expressing in particular his lifelong affection for the river.

Working with local residents, volunteers from the Duddon Valley Local History Group and academics from Lancaster University, artist Nikki Pugh has been exploring aspects of the many physical and social landscapes that are overlaid on this quiet corner of the Lake District, including:

  • How did Wordsworth’s text for the Duddon sonnets evolve in the versions before it was published?
  • What are the challenges involved in trying to identify the locations described in the sonnets?
  • How do people relate to the Duddon Valley today?

Featuring original manuscripts, stepping stones you can actually step on, a touch wall that plays the sounds of the river, and successive attempts by people to replicate Wordsworth’s journey down the Duddon Valley, the By Duddon’s Side exhibition takes on a theme of revisiting. There’s something here for you whether the Duddon is a regular haunt or if you’ve yet to discover the windswept fells, picturesque river and rich heritage of this charming valley.

Find out even more about this fascinating project on Nikki's blog.