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Arts and Culture in the Lake District

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It’s no wonder England’s most scenic area is choc-full of cultural attractions. The craggy mist-swathed limestone fells, zig-zagging stone walls, and glassy mountain-reflecting lakes have long been inspiration for poets, artists, and novelists. Here you can spend days discovering grand homes, intriguing museums, and gallery-filled lakeside villages.

 

Arts and Crafts attractions

 

The Lake District’s scattered with archetypal white-washed stone cottages whose gardens overflow with wild flowers and roses. Yet the area also has a selection of stunning examples from the Arts and Crafts Movement – a 19th century design epoch which sprung up as an alternative to the Industrial Revolution.

 

Blackwell The Arts & Crafts House

 

Designed for brewer Sir Edward Holt, Blackwell House is one of the finest examples of Arts and Crafts design. Poke around the building’s craftwork-laden interior, taking note of the carved wood-panelling, arty stained glass, and elaborate decorative touches including leaf-shaped door handles. If the house gets too stuffy, you can step out to the flower-filled gardens overlooking sparkly Lake Windermere.

 

Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria LA23 3JT. Tel:+44 1539 446139

 

Blackwell The Arts & Crafts House website
Brantwood

 

John Ruskin – the great 19th century philosopher and critic – purchased this grand house in 1871. Take a tour inside to really appreciate the fruits of his 20-year-long labour of love redesigning it in the Arts and Crafts style. Before you go, make sure to spend a moment breathing in the crisp clean air blowing across the woodland estate from neighbouring Coniston Water.

 

Coniston, Cumbria LA21 8AD. Tel:+44 1539 441396

 

Brantwood website

 

Literary landmarks

 

A long-time haven for artists and authors, who come here to draw inspiration from the fells, lakes, and fields, the Lake District has plenty of literary connections. You can tour homes and sights where Beatrix Potter, Arthur Ransome, and William Wordsworth penned their works.

 

Dove Cottage

 

The teeny whitewashed chocolate-box exterior of this pretty Grasmere cottage belies its importance as one of William Wordsworth’s Lake District homes. From 1799 until 1808 Wordsworth and his sister – and later his wife and children – squeezed into the cottage’s cramped draughty rooms. To this day they’re filled with artefacts like the poet’s glasses and passport, which you can peruse on a guided tour.

 

Grasmere, Cumbria LA22 9SH. Tel:+44 1539 435544

 

Dove Cottage website

 

Museums

 

If the heavens open on your Lake District holiday, there’s no better place to shelter from the rain than one of the area’s museums. You can buff up on your history and learn about life in the olden days at a local museum, or head to a more eclectic exhibition like the one listed below.

 

Lakeland Motor Museum

 

If you’re a fan of classic cars, this riverside museum at Backbarrow near the southern tip of Lake Windermere holds some 30,000 exhibits. From retro DeLoreans to sleek Jaguars and suave Aston Martins, you’ll discover a whole host of classic, and novelty cars. Plus there’s colourful automobile memorabilia including vintage advertising signs, toys and petrol pumps, and a collection of motorcycles and scooters for those who prefer 2 wheels over 4.

 

Old Blue Mill, Backbarrow, Cumbria LA12 8TA. Tel:+44 1539 530400

 

Lakeland Motor Museum website

 

Galleries

 

It’s no wonder that the Lake District’s an artist’s paradise – the sweeping landscape would inspire anyone to pick up a brush. From large masterpiece-laden museums to small local galleries, there’s arty delights galore.

 

Abbot Hall Art Gallery

 

A fine art gallery nestled inside a grand Grade 1 listed villa in Kendal, Abbot Hall houses an excellent collection of 18th and 19th century portraits and paintings, as well as a smaller exhibition of modern and contemporary artworks. If you’re a fan of George Romney you’re in for a treat, as there’s a large collection of his portraits, including his 1776 masterpiece, The Gower Children. Don’t miss the 18th century landscapes, which includes works from visionary artists like J M W Turner.

 

Kendal, Cumbria LA9 5AL. Tel:+44 1539 722464

 

Abbot Hall Art Gallery website