Wordsworth’s £6m birthday present

William Wordsworth’s 250th birthday in 2020 will see a £6.2m expansion of the museum devoted to him at his home village of Grasmere in Cumbria, the Wordsworth Trust has announced.

Reimagining Wordsworth will see the museum expanded and modernised with new galleries and an introductory exhibition. A new learning space will have a year-round programme of events, and Wordsworth’s manuscripts will be interpreted using new methods, made more interactive, with contemporary takes on his poetry, ideas and working practice.

“Wordsworth the poet was a revolutionary whose work and ideas are still relevant to our lives today” said the trust’s director Michael McGregor. “By taking a fresh new look at his work, the project will bring his story up to date, welcome old and new audiences – both locally and globally – and transform Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum into a dynamic destination for creativity, inspiration and enjoyment.”

After years of wandering and restless uncertainty in the wake of the French Revolution, Wordsworth returned to his native Cumbria to make a home with his sister Dorothy at Dove Cottage for what would be his most prolific period of writing. He went on to become Poet Laureate and to revolutionise English verse-making, and to become an early environmentalist.

Wordsworth described Grasmere, a newly designated World Heritage Site, as “the loveliest spot that man hath ever found”. To mark the intrinsic link between his writing and the local landscape, the project will also open up a woodland space, promote new walking trails, and create a new courtyard in the heart of the site.

Local residents will be closely involved through their contribution to sound points at which their recorded voices will bringing Wordsworth’s story to life, and the headteacher of Grasmere Primary School has joined the board of trustees. There will also be a community sensory garden incorporating local plants and materials from the Wordsworth’s time, and feature a moss hut based on the one designed by Wordsworths for the Dove Cottage garden by the Wordsworths as a sanctuary. The cottage itself is to be restored as it was in 1800, with the garden orchard the Wordsworths nurtured recreated.

Reimagining Wordsworthis supported by Heritage Lottery funding of £4.1m.


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