Friday, 20 April 2012

Romantic Rydal

Rydal is a small village, a cluster of houses, church and hotel, mid-way between Ambleside and Grasmere.
Despite its apparent insignificance, it has important links to English Romance Literature. The Romantics favoured natural, emotional and personal themes in contrast to the Enlightenment Era which promoted science, reason and intellectual philosophy.
William Wordsworth, one of the main Romantic poets, lived at Rydal Mount from 1813 to 1850. He designed the garden there and he often said that the garden was as much his ‘office’ as the spacious ‘writing room’ in the house. On the high side of the garden, away from the main house, but overlooking both Windermere and Grasmere, he built a small hut equipped with just a small bench. He spent most of his writing time here. The house has remained in the possession of the Wordsworth family until the present day, and has been open to the public since 1970.
Dr. Thomas Arnold, the famous innovative headmaster of Rugby School, had a summer house at Fox Howe, and his son, the poet Matthew Arnold, was a frequent visitor and also a friend of Wordsworth.

Nab Cottage, on the shores of Rydal Water, once belonged to the poets Thomas de Quincey and Hartley Coleridge, again both friends of Wordsworth. It is now a guest house.
Rydal Hall is an imposing building, dating back to the late 16th century, with extensive renovations in the 18th and 19th centuries. Its gardens were designed by Thomas Mawson in 1911 and are a perfect example of Edwardian style, with Italianate terracing, herbaceous border and lawns, together with informal woodland gardens and a summerhouse overlooking the Rydal Falls. The Hall now belongs to Carlisle Diocese and is used as a Christian retreat.

St Mary’s Church at Rydal was built by the Fleming family who owned Rydal Hall. Wordsworth and his family, and also the Arnold family, all worshipped here and their pews are now marked by plaques. In 1847, after his daughter Dora died, Wordsworth bought the field between the church and his home at Rydal Mount and dedicated it to her. He and his wife planted hundreds of daffodil bulbs here, and ‘Dora’s Field’, as it is still known, looks beautiful at this time of year.

Rydal Water, a small lake near the village, only about a kilometre long, is owned partly by the National Trust and partly by Rydal Hall. On its southern side are Rydal Caves, part of a disused slate mine. Inside one of the caves is a small lake, complete with goldfish which were placed here years ago and whose descendants still survive.


  1. What a pretty village! No wonder it inspired so many poets!

  2. OMGosh..definitely on my bucket list now.....GORGEOUS !!

  3. How could you live here and not wax eloquent. Felt I was in a Jane Austen novel reading this Paula.


  4. Lovely photos and a great R choice!

  5. Thank you, all.

    Claudia, Jenny, Brenda, Beth - it really is a beautiful area, isn'it it?

    Denise - it would be perfect for a Regency/Victorian novel. You can just see Wordsworth and his buddies strolling around the lake.

  6. Oh, how I would love to visit the Wordsworth hut... and home... oh, so beautiful! I wonder if I will be able to visit there during my trip to the UK next Fall? Crossing my fingers.... so great to "be there" with you today, Paula!

    Julie Jordan Scott
    Fellow A to Z Challenge Writer
    twitter: @juliejordanscot
    R is for Rosmarie
    On a Mission to Spread Word-Love Throughout the World

  7. Julie - if you come to the Lake District, I will give you a 'Wordsworth tour' of Rydal, Grasmere and Hawkshead.

  8. Wow, it's such a beautiful place. I'm glad I found your blog.

  9. I am enchanted by the wonderful places that are part of your home. The top image makes me want to run across that hill, right up to the door, and stay awhile.

  10. Your home land is so beautiful. Although the United States have some beautiful spots, nothing near where I live compares to the beauty I have been seeing in the pictures you have shared. I wish I could go there and see it for myself!!


  11. November - it's been wonderful seeing your reactions (and everyone else's) to this small corner of England.

    Kathy - you have some sensational scenery in America! But one of the joys of England is that theer is so much to see in such a relatively small island.

  12. I am so in love with the Wadsworth House! I can actually see me there and I am sure I would be a great and world famous poet if only...

  13. Thanks for sharing this. I love the history associated with our ancient island. Blog on!

  14. Gorgeous post, Paula - husband is now going to read through your posts on the Lakes when he gets a chance!

  15. LOL, Jo of course you would!

    Thanks, Francene. We have so much history here that we often take it for granted.

  16. Rydal seems like quite the inviting place. Maybe one day I will make it to the Lake District!!

    Cheers, Jenn