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Wordsworth House and Garden

Birthplace of the poet with a real 18th C ambience and a small but well cared-for garden.

This Georgian townhouse was the birthplace and childhood home of William Wordsworth when his father John was Steward to Lord Lowther and occupied the property as a tenant. The garden and its contents (herbs, vegetables, border perennials) are set out much as it would have been during his tenancy in the late 18th century. Amanda Thackeray,the Head Gardener, has been there since 2004 during which time the garden was deluged by the great flood of November 2009. The force of water overflowing from the adjacent River Derwent tore down several parts of the old walls which surround the half-acre garden. Fertile alluvial topsoil was washed away and had to be replaced while the walls were painstakingly rebuilt. Three years later you have to look hard to see the difference, a tribute to the quality of the restoration work. The opportunity was also taken to replace grass paths with gravel which is more in keeping with the 1770’s period since they didn’t have lawnmowers in those days to maintain them.

The main garden contains two rows of six apple trees each, all of which are Greenups Pippin, the Keswick variety found in the garden of the eponymous shoemaker in the late 18th C. These were planted in the 1980’s, probably on M26 rootstock and are well trained as bush trees with the classic goblet shape and open centre. This must be the largest collection of Greenups Pippin anywhere in the world. Quite why so many were planted is anyone’s guess. Being a mid-season cooker, they don’t keep in store for very long, so most are used in the kitchen and café.

Following the reconstruction of the walled garden walls, espaliers and fans of a range of fruit types were planted in 2011.

The entire garden follows an organic regime so the trees get no feed other than compost mulch. There are no significant pests or diseases, and no mammal problems since the garden is walled and in the town. An interesting labeling feature is the use of permanent white marker on slates hung on the wall beside each espalier or fan to indicate its identity. A further feature is that this is a bumblebee friendly garden, meaning that they are actively encouraged by the wide range of cottage garden plants which provide pollen over a continuing period.

Open daily except Friday from March to October inclusive. Admission £6.36 (NT members free). Location: on Main Street Cockermouth, follow brown signs, junction of A5086 & B5292. Postcode for Satnav: CA13 9RX Tel: 01900 820884. No car park, nearest is Wakefield Road car park, CA13 0HG, then walk over footbridge across river.

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