Life returns to Wordsworth's 'little croft' after 225 years

Admirers of William Wordsworth will from tomorrow be able to enjoy an important insight into the poet's "golden years" with the reopening of his childhood home.

The lime-washed townhouse in Cockermouth, Cumbria, where he born in 1770 and lived in until he was nine, has been recreated in painstaking Georgian detail by the National Trust, with actors portraying the bustling lives of its inhabitants.

Wordsworth wrote that "the child is the father of the man" and was deeply inspired by his time at the house when his parents were still alive, writing Guilt and Sorrow, about their "little croft".

The death of his mother, Ann, shortly before his eighth birthday, and his father, John, five years later, led the young Wordsworth to return and seek solace in the mountains and lakes that surrounded him. He had been sent to school in Hawkshead by his father after his mother died.

Researchers have spent two years turning the interior of the house on the fringes of the Lake District into a working household that would be recognisable to the poet, using inventories of the family's possessions and papers, and historical background.

The house, first opened to the public in the 1980s, has been redecorated to an authentic colour scheme and new rooms have been furnished, including young William's bedroom, complete with toys, clothes and juvenile clutter.

At the heart of the house is a working 18th-century kitchen, where visitors will be able to sample cooking from the period.

They will be able to sit on the replica furniture which has been designed using Georgian methods and designs, and walk through the garden which has an assortment of fruit trees, a "physic garden" for herbal remedies and 18th-century plants. There will also be authentic furniture, including John Wordsworth's desk which would have been used by him as well as by William.

The NT was given nearly £1m from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Rural Regeneration in Cumbria and the European Regional Development Fund. Kate Hilton, custodian of the house, said: "John Wordsworth was the estate agent of Sir James Lowther, a wealthy landowner who had provided this house for the family, which would otherwise have been beyond their means.

"They had around five or six servants and furnished it as best. The nine years William Wordsworth lived there were idyllic, golden years for a poet who believed that our earliest experiences colour the rest of their lives."

Many of the rooms the Wordsworths inhabited were sparsely and modestly furnished, and a few of the best rooms were kept for entertaining dignitaries.

The inventory published when John Wordsworth died showed much of what was owned by the family including a "large and handsome Wilton carpet" which has been reinstated.

After the death of their parents, the five Wordsworth children left the house and began living with relatives, facing separation from each other at times. But William and his sister Dorothy, remained loyal to the beautiful surroundings they had grown up with in their poetry.

More prosaically, Wordsworth was embroiled in a 15-year battle in getting hold of his father's inheritance, because of family debts, including to Lord Lowther.

Wordsworth came under the care of his uncles and studied at St John's College Cambridge. On a visit to France, he was influenced by the ideas of those who eventually led the French Revolution.

He had an illegitimate child, and five children by Mary Hutchinson, his wife and childhood companion . Two of those children died young and his brother, John, drowned at sea when Wordsworth was 35.

He lived at Dove Cottage in Grasmere. The Lake District is littered with monuments to Wordsworth, and to his close friend Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Wordsworth died in 1850.

But often in his work he returned to his childhood, at Cockermouth or Hawkshead. Wordsworth's poetry reveals the child in the man.

(Guilt and Sorrow - XXIV)

"A little croft we owned - a plot of corn,
A garden stored with peas, and mint, and thyme,
And flowers for posies, oft on Sunday morn
Plucked while the church bells rang their earliest chime.
Can I forget our freaks at shearing time!
My hen's rich nest through long grass scarce espied;
The cowslip-gathering in June's dewy prime;
The swans that with white chests upreared in pride
Rushing and racing came to meet me at the water-side."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week