Keswick Museum

Coordinates: 54°36′11″N 3°07′58″W / 54.6031°N 3.1329°W / 54.6031; -3.1329
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Keswick Museum
Keswick Museum and Art Gallery in 2011
Keswick Museum is located in the former Allerdale Borough
Keswick Museum
Keswick Museum
Location in Allerdale, Cumbria
Keswick Museum is located in the Lake District
Keswick Museum
Keswick Museum
Location in the Lake District National Park, England
Coordinates54°36′11″N 3°07′58″W / 54.6031°N 3.1329°W / 54.6031; -3.1329

Keswick Museum is a local museum based in Keswick in the English Lake District, which exhibits aspects of the landscape, history and culture of the area.


The collection was established as the Keswick Museum of Local and Natural History, a creation of the Keswick Literary and Scientific Society, in the Moot Hall, in 1873.[1] An important item in the original collection at the Moot Hall was a three-dimensional model of the Lake District, measuring 12 feet by 9 feet, made by Joseph and James Flintoft in 1837.[1]

The collection moved to purpose-built facilities, in Fitz Park, constructed as a memorial to the Hewetson brothers, distinguished Keswick benefactors, in 1897.[1] Cannon Hardwicke Rawnsley, one of founders of the National Trust, attended the opening of the art gallery at the museum, in 1906.[2]

The Fitz Park Trust got into financial difficulties and the collection was rescued by Allerdale Council in April 1994.[3] Then, in February 2007, Keswick Museum and Art Gallery Management Limited was formed to operate the museum on behalf of the council as the sole trustee.[4]

The building was extensively refurbished, with financial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund,[5] at a cost of £2.1 million between September 2012 and May 2014.[6][7]

The collection[edit]

The museum has a collection of about 20,000 objects, of which 5-10% are on display. While these include material relating to the whole of north Cumbria, the museum now only collects items from the Derwent Seven Parishes, approximately the CA12 postcode area.[8]

The collection includes artifacts from Keswick's landscape, history and culture[9] as well as the three-dimensional model made by Joseph and James Flintoft.[1] It also includes The Musical Stones of Skiddaw, a number of lithophones built across two centuries around the town of Keswick using hornfels, a stone from the nearby Skiddaw mountain, which is said to have a superior tone and longer ring than the more commonly used slate.[10] Other items in the collection include a 700-year-old cat (found mummified within the wall of a church at Clifton near Penrith), a penny-farthing bicycle and a man-trap.[11]

The Hugh Walpole Collection includes manuscripts of all the Herries novels by Hugh Walpole (four novels set in the Lake District) and letters to Walpole from 13 leading English writers.[12]

The Mountain Heritage Trust maintains a changing exhibition in the museum: in 2018/19 "Man and Mountain" featured Chris Bonington,[13] and in 2019/20 it focused on Siegfried Herford.[14]


  1. ^ a b c d "Moot Hall". Lake District National Park. 29 July 2005. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  2. ^ "Hardwicke Drummond Rawnsley (1851-1920)". Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  3. ^ "Keswick Museum and Art Gallery: Collections Development Policy" (PDF). Allerdale Council. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  4. ^ Source: Short history of Keswick Museum given as handout to visitors
  5. ^ "Keswick Museum to shut for a year for £2m refurbishment". BBC News. 29 March 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  6. ^ "New beginning for Keswick museum". The Cumberland News. 23 May 2014. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  7. ^ "Keswick Museum reopens after £2m refurbishment". BBC News. 25 May 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  8. ^ "Our Collections". Keswick Museum. Keswick Museum.
  9. ^ "Keswick Museum and Art Gallery (leaflet)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 October 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2014.
  10. ^ "The Skiddaw Stones". Soniccouture. Soniccouture Sound Design Ltd. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  11. ^ "Keswick Museum and Art Gallery". Visit Cumbria. Retrieved 23 October 2022.
  12. ^ Hart-Davis, Rupert (1998). Halfway to Heaven: Concluding memoirs of a Literary Life. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton. ISBN 0750918373.
  13. ^ "Annual Report 2018/19". Mountain Heritage Trust. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  14. ^ "Mountain Heritage Trust". Keswick Museum. Retrieved 22 February 2020.

External links[edit]