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Allan Bank (Cumbria)

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restoration.Wordsworth lived here for some years and hated it.

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      22.12.2012 22:48
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      A house with an interesting history in the process of being restored

      ALLAN BANK Grasmere, LA22 9QB Telephone: 015394 35143 This old property has had a very mixed and eventful life. The National Trust have owned it for some time but it has only recently been opened to the public to look around. OPENING TIMES AND PRICES Adults : £3.50 and £4.00 if you want to Gift Aid Children: £1.75 and £2.00 if you want to Gift Aid Family: £8.75 and £10.00 if you want to Gift Aid You can visit the grounds anytime from dawn to dusk but the house is open generally from 10am till 4pm. I would however check if you are planning a visit in case times change. IN THE BEGINNING AND A BRIEF HOUSE STORY This mansion was built by a John Gregory Crump in 1806. Mr Crump was a new arrival in the area and his house built on the side of Lake Grasmere caused huge controversy and indeed Wordsworth referred to it as 'a temple of abomination'. Interestingly by 1807 Wordsworth's attitude must have mellowed slightly as he assisted in the design of the grounds and indeed the Wordsworth family rented the house from Mr Crump for some years although we did learn that Wordsworth himself was never happy while living here. The next resident was Thomas Dawson who bought the property for £4,100 in 1834. He remodelled the house quite considerably and even added a lodge, Glenthorne, on the Easedale road. The house once again changed hands and in 1915 was bought by Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley; he and his wife Eleanor moved in to Allan Bank in 1917. Once again there were more alterations and tennis courts were added to the south-east of the house. The house was given to the NT and was rented out to a local family for the last twenty five years. Sadly in 2011 just after the NT had re roofed and re wired the house in 2010 there was a huge fire which damaged a large part of the house, and of course there was a lot of water and smoke damage. The NT have spent a lot of money restring the house structurally and it was finally opened to the public in 2012 but as yet it is really pretty well empty, an empty shell that the NT are asking people what they should do with. THE HOUSE TODAY The house is structurally repaired but the rooms are empty and certainly not what they probably were back in its heyday. The grounds include woodland walks, viewing points and seats, modified watercourses and pools, paths, steps and a viewing tunnel. FAMOUS RESIDENTS AND VISITORS The house is not only of interest because of Wordsworth's sojourn here but it has a specilal place in the NT's heart as it was once owned Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley, the co-founder of the trust . Rawnsley was a tireless campaigner for preservation and conservation and the founding of the NT was something very dear to his heart. Incidentally the NT has just celebrated reaching the total of four million members which is quite an amazing achievement. Wordsworth lived here with his family but according to all we read he hated the house although I got the impression that his family quite liked it. While Wordsworth lived here both Thomas De Quincey and Samuel Taylor Coleridge stayed with the family. While visiting Wordsworth the three men spent many hours in the dining room enjoying discussions and debating the 'truths of our future and the wrongs of our past government'. Dorothy Wordsworth was also a great writer of journals and poetry but none of her work was published during her lifetime. She loved the house and described the grounds as 'an earthly paradise'. Thomas Dawson who bought the house in 1834 was also a keen conservationalist and like many other local people fought against the building of the Kendal & Windermere Railway when it was proposed in 1844. Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley who bought the house in1915 was a fierce defender of the Lake District countryside and of course a co-founder of the NT. It was Rawnsley who left the house to the NT on his death although his wife, Eleanor continued to live there for some years after that. She was known for her interest in Lake District dialects and supporting and continuing her husband's conservation work. OUR VISIT We knew that the house was basically a shell but it is still possible to get the feel of the place and how it might have once been decorated and lived in. We first went straight through to the bay window in the room overlooking the lake and my husband saw a red squirrel which was a real treat. Inside the room on the wall were photos of the room as it looked in its heyday. The view from this room was stunning and I could picture families enjoying sitting and looking at the view. The kitchen offered free coffee and so we went and made ourselves one and sat in the room at the back which had seats and lots of books and papers available to read. In the hallway was a large wall with a sort of blackboard where you were invited to write your suggestions as to what should happen to the house in the future. It is hard to describe the different rooms as they were all empty so had nothing really to distinguish one from another although upstairs there were a couple of rooms with activities for children from art and craft activities to board games and puzzles. Another room upstairs had photos of the place after the fire and then samples of fabric and wall paper that was being selected for the restoration in keeping with the house's period in time. Visitors could add their vote for which ones they liked. Although the house was empty of its real furniture and decoration it did have a very warm and welcoming feel about it. They had made a big effort to put things in the rooms for children to be entertained with which I thought was a really nice touch. It would be very interesting to visit again in a few years time to see what they do with this house as it has so much potential. The house is a really lovely large family home with grounds that are fabulous. WALKS There are two main walks in the grounds. The wood walk follows a fairly rugged path and takes around 45 minutes to complete. One of the most exciting features of this walk is the viewing tunnel where you can sit and 'hide ' waiting for a chance to see red squirrels or deer or other wildlife. The garden walk is an easier walk along garden paths with a view of the lake. You can see the remains of a walled garden which the NT hope to restore i n the future. THINGS TO BE AWARE OF You cannot park near the house unless you are a blue badge holder. You have to park in the pay and display car park in the village and walk up to the house which is not that well signed so we were not quite sure if we were heading the right way but we got there! Neither the house nor the grounds are accessible by mobility scooter. There are non NT toilets in the larger walking grounds but in the house the toilets are upstairs and very clean and nicely presented. The house is empty at present so don't expect a beautiful stately home just yet but who knows one day it may be restored to its former glory. It was interesting to visit an NT house not fully restored as it does give you an idea of the work they do with these lovely old properties. WORTH A VISIT? Yes it is still worth visiting even as an empty house. The grounds are really beautiful and even though the house is not fully restored you do get a feel for the place. Because it isn't fully restored you can sit on the furniture and touch the walls. You can sit in front of the fire and read a book should you feel you have the time. You could sit in the room with the bay window and enjoy the view and wait for the local wildlife to wander past. You could join the children in craft activities or draw or paint or play games too. We enjoyed our visit and it was nice to see another of the Wordsworth houses in the area as we had visited Dove Cottage the day before. Thanks for reading. This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name. ©Catsholiday

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    • Product Details

      National Trust / This house has only recently been opened to the public by the National Trust.