Grasmere shown within Cumbria
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|UK Parliament||Westmorland and Lonsdale|
Grasmere is a village, and popular tourist destination, in the centre of the English Lake District. It takes its name from the adjacent lake, and is associated with the Lake Poets. The poet William Wordsworth, who lived in Grasmere for fourteen years, described it as "the loveliest spot that man hath ever found".
" 'The lake flanked by grass'; 'gres', 'mere'. Early spellings in 'Grys-', 'Gris(s)-' might suggest ON 'griss' 'young pig' as 1st el.[ement], but the weight of the evidence points to OE/ON 'gres' 'grass', with the modern form influenced by Standard English....The medial '-s(s)e-' may, as suggested by Ekwall in DEPN, point to ON 'gres-saer' 'grass-lake' as the original name...". Plus the element "'mere' OE, ModE 'lake, 'pool'."
The village is on the river Rothay which flows into Grasmere lake, which lies about 0.5 km to the south. The village is overlooked from the NW by the rocky hill of Helm Crag, popularly known as The Lion and the Lamb or the Old Lady at the Piano. These names are derived from the shape of rock formations on its summit, depending on which side you view it from.
A number of popular walks begin in the village, including the ascent of Helm Crag, a longer route up to Fairfield and a moderate 200-metre ascent to Easedale Tarn. The village is also on the route of Alfred Wainwright's Coast to Coast Walk.
The A591 connects Grasmere to the Vale of Keswick over Dunmail Raise to the north, and Ambleside to the south. In other directions, Grasmere is surrounded by high ground. (As of Christmas 2015, the A591 was washed away on the Keswick side of Dunmail Raise, resulting in a long detour.) To the west, a long ridge comes down from High Raise and contains the lesser heights of Blea Rigg and Silver How. To the east, Grasmere is bordered by the western ridge of the Fairfield horseshoe.
Grasmere is served by the Stagecoach 555 bus service which connects it with other towns in and near the Lake District such as Keswick and Lancaster. In summer it is served by an open top double-decker 599 service, operated by Stagecoach, which runs between Grasmere and Bowness-on-Windermere.
Grasmere's famous Rushbearing Ceremony, centred on St Oswald's Church, has ancient origins. The present-day ceremony is an annual event which features a procession through the village with bearings made from rushes and flowers. In this procession there are also six Maids of Honour, a brass band, the church choir, and anyone who wishes to join in by carrying their own decorated rushbearing.
The annual Grasmere Sports take place in August and were first held in 1852. This is the main event in the village's calendar and one of the most popular traditional events in the Lake District. Participants compete in a variety of sports, including Cumberland Wrestling, fell running and hound trails (similar to drag hunting).
Grasmere Chocolate Cottage
Grasmere is now home to the winner of the 'Best New Business of the year' awarded by the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs, the Handmade Chocolate Shop.
Today's Grasmere Gingerbread is made to a "secret recipe" popularised by Sarah Nelson (1815–1904). By the early nineteenth century, Grasmere gingerbread was already being sold as fairings, as well as being a popular seller in its own right. Poet Dorothy Wordsworth wrote in 1803 that she and her brother William yearned for the gingerbread.
The former civil parish was for a time governed by an urban district council before becoming part of the Lakes UDC in 1934. The village is now part of Lakes Parish. Grasmere is currently represented by Liberal Democrat politicians on both the district council and county council, as well as at Westminster. Grasmere has experienced population decline since the 1960s.
In birth order:
- William Wordsworth (1770–1850), poet, lived in Dove Cottage with his sister Dorothy Wordsworth (1771–1855), in the hamlet of Townend, on the outskirts of Grasmere, from 1799. He occasionally used to breakfast with Sir Walter Scott at The Swan, a 17th-century coaching inn on the A591 road, whose sign still quotes a line from him: "Who does not know the famous Swan?". In 1808 he sold Dove Cottage to Thomas de Quincey (1785–1859) and moved to the larger Allan Bank, where he remained until moving to Rydal Mount in 1813. He is buried in the churchyard of St Oswald's, Grasmere, alongside his wife, Mary, their family, and his sister Dorothy. A friend, the writer Lady Maria Farquhar, lived at Dale Lodge.
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834), poet, spent time at Dove Cottage and is said to have muttered stanzas for "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" while walking across the nearby fells.
- Paul Frederick de Quincey (1828–1894), New Zealand politician, was born at Grasmere.
- William Angus Knight (1836–1916), Scottish academic, compiled an 11-volume Wordsworth's Works and Life (1881–89) and presented his library of Wordsworth materials to Dove Cottage.
- William Archibald Spooner (1844–1930), Oxford University academic and instigator of spoonerisms, was buried here, near the house of his wife's family, How Foot.
- John Haden Badley (1865–1967), progressive educationalist and founder of Bedales School, spent time with his sisters the Misses Badley, at their Grasmere home Winterseeds.
- Charles Morris (1898–1990), philosopher and Leeds University vice-chancellor, died at Grasmere.
- The husband-and-wife artists William Heaton Cooper (1903–1995), landscape painter, and Ophelia Gordon Bell (1915–1975), sculptor, lived and are buried at Grasmere.
- Fred Yates (1922–2008), painter, was living at Cote How near Grasmere (1900–06) when he painted the future United States president Woodrow Wilson and John Haden Badley.
- Robert Woof (1931–2005), academic, was the first keeper of the collections of the William Wordsworth Museum at Dove Cottage.
- Bob Barratt (1938 or 1939–2004) was the founder of the Grasmere Records label for brass band and organ music.
- A Farewell. Retrieved 2 December 2013
- Ekwall, Eilert (1960). The concise Oxford dictionary of English place-names (4th ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. l, 546.
- Whaley, Diana (2006). A dictionary of Lake District place-names. Nottingham: English Place-Name Society. pp. lx,423 p.136. ISBN 0904889726.
- Whaley, 2006, p.411,
- Retrieved on 7 February 2008
- Wainwright: Coast to Coast
- The IOEE brings together the enterprise sector for House of Lords celebration. Retrieved on 25 October 2014
- Grasmere Gingerbread Co: History. Retrieved on 27 August 2012
- Davies, Caroline. The Guardian:Wordsworth's village bakers fight over their gingerbread. Retrieved on 27 August 2012
- Broomfield, Andrea (2007). Food and cooking in Victorian England : a history (1st ed.). Westport: Praeger Publishers. pp. 161–163. ISBN 0-275-98708-6.
- Tim Farron MP
- Retrieved on 7 February 2008 Archived 17 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
- Visit Cumbria: St Oswald's church
- Retrieved on 6 February 2008 Archived 28 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
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