Drawing 182: Dove Cottage, Grasmere

Direction of view: NE

Notes: Sun is on this side of the cottage in the afternoon.  The hedge has grown up, obscuring the ground floor windows, and so has the tree; this picture would now be better when the trees are bare of leaves.  A street light with a (presumably false) historic appearance has also been erected.

This view of Dove Cottage appears on page 210 of Westmorland Heritage, and page 178 of Memoirs of a Fellwanderer.  All are taken from the same original drawing.  AW has handled the shadow of the tree falling on the building with great skill. This tree appears quite substantial both in AW’s sketch and my photos; but a photo by G. P. Abraham (undated, but pre-1948) shows no tree there at all.

Comments: I took this picture on slide film on a youth hostelling trip around the Lake District in the summer of 1978 with a University friend named Don Rodgers.

I first took this sketch on digital on 23rd May 2012 (see drawing 47).  After visiting it in the morning, I came back in the afternoon to take it in good conditions – which involved waiting for a party of Japanese visitors to have their photos taken and disappear inside!

Dove Cottage was built in the early 17th century, beside the main road from Ambleside to Keswick. It was probably purpose-built as a public house, and it is first recorded as the “Dove and Olive”, an inn included in a list of public houses in Westmorland in 1617.  It remained a public house, sometimes called the “Dove and Olive Branch”, until it closed in 1793.  The house had no name during the Wordsworths’ time; it only became known as Dove Cottage after the Wordsworth Trust acquired it in 1890.

Dove Cottage is a Grade 1 listed building, and is said to be largely unchanged from Wordsworth’s day.  Wordsworth lived there with his sister Dorothy from December 1799 to May 1808; they were joined there in 1802 by William’s new wife, Mary, and her sister.  Later, the house was let to Thomas de Quincey.