We finally discovered the joys of public transportation and took the bus to the village of Grasmere. I neglected to take any pictures, but here are some nice ones. I stopped in the Sam Read Book Shop and bought this, though mine has a different cover. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I’m always on the lookout for research materials with lots of pictures, so I’m hoping there will be some Regency gems here.
The bookseller gave us a map of Grasmere village which we followed to get to The Gingerbread Shop home to Sarah Nelson’s Grasmere gingerbread. I had read about the bookshop and the gingerbread store in a guidebook before we came. Apparently other people had heard about the gingerbread as well—the line was out the door, though the shop is so tiny, only about four adult-sized customers can fit inside, so it moved quickly. They sell only gingerbread, in packages of six or nine pieces. We got the six piece size. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but Mr. M liked it very much. You can see a picture of the shop if you scroll down the site that I linked to at the beginning of this post. The building was a school when Wordsworth lived here, so my Regency folks can’t munch on this gingerbread.
The shop is adjacent to St. Oswald’s churchyard where William Wordsworth and his family are buried. The church site has a better picture of the grave, but I took one, too, of course. What self-respecting English major could let that opportunity pass?
From here we left Grasmere village and crossed the highway (A591), careful to look both ways many times, to reach Dove Cottage, Wordsworth’s house from Dec. 20, 1799 to 1808.
We had to wait a while after we bought our tickets, so I took some pictures of the houses just on the other side of the lane—which it turns out was the Coffin Trail. (More about that tomorrow.)
See the road? That’s the Trail. And here’s another shot of the buildings.
We later learned our docent, a university student intern (from Yorkshire, if I remember correctly), got to live in one of these buildings. But they weren’t there when the Wordsworths lived in Dove Cottage.
Here’s Mr. M waiting in front of Dove Cottage.
When our time arrived, we went up and knocked on the door, and the docent let us in. It turned out there was only one other couple on our tour, so I could ask lots of crazy questions in my American accent.
Dove Cottage was probably built in the early 17th century. Before Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy moved in, it had been an inn called the Dove and Olive—that’s where the Dove in Dove Cottage came from. Two things stuck me the most. First how small it felt. I couldn’t imagine Wordsworth, his sister, his wife, three children, and a dog living there without stepping on each other constantly. And second, Dorothy seemed to run the place. I wondered how his wife liked that, but the docent pointed out that it may only sound like Dorothy was in charge because much of what we know comes from her diary. I think I’ll have to add her journals to my “to-be-read” pile.
The children’s room was very small and lined with old newspapers to add extra warmth.
After touring the house, we looked around the gardens. I took this from the highest point, and I think if you look closely on the other side of the houses is Grasmere lake.
Here’s Mr. M. and the back of Dove Cottage. The white building is the original part.
We could have visited the Wordsworth Museum next door to Dove Cottage, but we wanted to hike the Coffin Trail, so there was no time to waste.