Famous People and Places of The Lake District

24 February 2022

The Lake District has left an impression on many people over the years. From poets to playwrights, storytellers and directors; the beautiful landscape captures the imagination and has become a place to explore and find out more about the famous people who lived and worked there, wrote about it or used it as a backdrop for films, TV shows and more. Today, we're going to discuss just some of the many famous names that have brought the area to people's attention.

dove cottage lake district

The Lakes Poets

Some of the most influential people from the Lake District are, arguably, the Lakes Poets. William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey all wrote famous poems about the area.

Wordsworth, possibly the most famous of the three, was born on the edge of the Lake District in Cockermouth and moved to Dove Cottage near Grasmere Lake when he was in his twenties. He spent eight years living in the cottage with his sister Dorothy – a poet herself but not published when alive. The pair then moved to Rydal Mount, in nearby Rydal, where William lived until he died in 1850. Both homes are now tourist attractions. Dove Cottage is a museum dedicated to William Wordsworth, his life in the Lake District and his poetry. Rydal Mount is a step back in time, where you can explore what the home would have been like when William lived there and walk the gardens as he designed them. Rydal Mount continues to be owned by the Wordsworth family.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge was only in the Lake District for a short while, around four years. He originated in Devon, but his travels took him far, and through friendship with the Wordsworths, he found himself living in and taking inspiration from the gothic elements of the Lake District. Coleridge lived in Greta Hall in Keswick, where fellow Lakes Poet Robert Southey came to join him during his time there and remained there for forty years.

Robert Southey took refuge in the beauty of the lake district following several deaths of his family. Often thought of as the lesser-known Lakes Poet, Southey was the most successful during the lifetime of the three, becoming a poet Laurette and being the first author to publish the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Of the three Lakes Poets, two found their final resting places in the Lake District. Robert Southey was buried in St Kentigern's churchyard near Keswick, and an inscription from Wordsworth can be found on the monument inside the church. Wordsworth has a simple Gravestone at St Oswald's Church in Grasmere, surrounded by family members. The grave of the artist Willam Green can also be found here, with an epitaph composed by Wordsworth.

rabbit in the lake district

 The Birthplace of Peter Rabbit

Beatrix Potter loved living in the Lake District. Born in London, she frequently visited the area for holidays in her youth and eventually moved to Hill Top in 1905. Hill Top was a farm Potter purchased from the sales of her first illustrated books, including the one that made her famous; The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Potter was inspired by the holidays she took across the Lake District and Scotland to create the early tales of Peter and his friends. So it was only natural she emersed herself in life there and completed many more books. Many places featured in the books can be explored since Beatrix Potter left much of her land to the National Trust after her death. This includes Hill Top, a tourist attraction you can visit when staying at one of our luxury holiday cottages in the Lake District. The farm mimics the life of Beatrix Potter and contains belongings of hers from her time there. In addition, you can enjoy The World of Beatrix Potter, an attraction in Windermere which brings the tales of Peter Rabbit and his friends to life. There is also a dedicated space for Beatrix Potter at the Armitt Museum in Ambleside.

John Ruskin and Coniston

Another writer inspired by the area, John Ruskin, was the son of a wealthy sherry importer and spent many family holidays in the Lake District when he was younger. He didn't move to the area until 1871, but it inspired his work well before then, with the poem Iteriad, or Three Weeks Among the Lakes, written in 1830, an account of visiting the area. Ruskin was just eleven when he penned the poem, which is 2310 lines long and talks of trips between Windermere, Hawkshead and Coniston. Later in life, Ruskin returned to the area to live permanently, buying Brantwood, overlooking Coniston Water. Ruskin is credited for his involvement in developing the National Trust, having brought his two friends, Hardwicke Rawnsley and Octavia Hill, the founders of the Trust, together. He was also instrumental in William Morris setting up the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.

You can discover more about Ruskin at Brantwood, which is now a museum showing the life of Ruskin and the house as he and his family lived in it, and studio showcasing quality art and craft exhibitions. The Ruskin Museum can be round at the Coniston Mechanics Institute and showcases his works and pieces of history from the local area.

lake district fell

Alfred Wainwright and the Lake District Pictorial Guides

Talking about famous people and the Lake District would not be complete without a reference to Alfred Wainwright, the man responsible for gathering information about the fells of the Lake District and publishing them in a seven-volume guide. The Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells is one of the most respected guides to the area, detailing nearly all the fells you can see and visit in the Lake District. The 214 fells detailed have become known as "The Wainwrights", and many people aim to complete the challenge of walking all of them. The Wainwright Society keeps a register of all members who have climbed all 214. Alfred Wainwright originally came from Blackburn in Lancashire but fell in love with the fells of the Lake District when he went on a walking holiday with a cousin. He eventually moved to Kendal and started his guide, taking thirteen years to write. Originally the guides were for personal use, and Wainwright expected to keep them private. What we would have missed out on had he not published them.

The 214 Wainwrights listed in the guide include The Old Man of Coniston, Cat Bells, Blelham Tarn, Glaramara, Easedale Tarn and more, many of which are easily accessible for all when staying in one of our luxury holiday cottages. Walking them makes returning to a hot tub cottage in the Lake District even sweeter as you know you can relax.

Literature Inspired by The Lake District

Works of literature have taken inspiration from the beauty of the Lake District for many years. With significant pieces like Peter Rabbit and the Iteriad taking the spotlight, it's easy to forget about some of the quieter nods to the area. Arthur Ransome attended the prep school in Windermere, and it was there he fell in love with the Lake District. He learnt to sail on Coniston Water and used this as the basis for his fantastic tale Swallows and Amazons. The Booker Prize Winner of 1988, Amsterdam by Ian McEwan, features a retreat to the Lake District, and there was even a Doctor Who novel, Sting of the Zygons by Stephen Cole, which takes place in the area. Lady Windermere's Fan by Oscar Wilde appears to have taken some inspiration from the area as it was penned after a visit by the playwright in 1891. There are also countless murder mysteries and crime novels set in the area, with Rebecca Tope's novels often featuring names of Lake District towns and lakes.

lake district

Film Locations to See in the Lake District

Boasting some of the most beautiful scenery and landscapes in the UK, it's no wonder the area has been used numerous times as a backdrop for films and tv shows. Rydal Caves and other areas local to Grasmere feature in season two of The Witcher, a Netflix fantasy, where a Bard talks with The Witcher, perhaps drawing on the area's history of poets. The wartime drama The Windermere Children was set close to the lake it takes its name from, and the ITV Drama Deep Water featured the same lake. Even fantasy films take the landscape to mould it into something new, with Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens combining lakes Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite to make the forested planet of Takodana. Many well-known film stars grace our screens from sets in the Lake District. Kirkby Lonsdale, where you will find many of our beautiful luxury holiday cottages, was once transformed into a film set for Antonio Bandaras and Robert Downey Jr's film The Voyage of Dr Dolittle. Coniston was home to a movie set for Miss Potter starring Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor. Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron walk amongst the area of Langdale in the blockbuster Snow White and the Huntsman and The Lakes provided the perfect backdrop for the ending of the horror film 28 Days Later.

It's easy to see why the Lake District has inspired so many and repeatedly used for filming locations. Thanks to its beauty and the feeling you can get exploring the fells and the countryside, there is no other place like it. Explore it more yourself when you stay with us. At Mill House Cottages, we offer everything from waterside cottages to dog-friendly cottages in the Lake District to use as your base when taking in the famous surroundings.

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