Tag: St. Oswald’s Church

  • Who was William Wordsworth

    Known for its beautiful walks and breath – taking landscapes the Lake District is also famous for its connections with lake poet William Wordsworth. His connections to the lakes can be found in the bustling village of Grasmere.

    William Wordsworth was born on 7th April 1770 in a fine Georgian house in Cockermouth, which is now known as Wordsworth House. William was one of four children with two brothers and sister Dorothy.

    Wordsworth House - Home of William Wordsworth - Cockermouth

    Much of William’s childhood was spent in Cockermouth and Penrith where he attended infant school. Attending infant school with William was his soon to be wife Mary Hutchinson. William attended the Grammar School in Hawkshead, where he received encouragement from his headmaster to read and write poetry. During this time, he made regular visits to the countryside to gather inspiration from nature. Pursing his career in poetry he attended St. Johns College in Cambridge, where he received a bequest of £900. This gave him the means to pursue his chosen career.

    In 1797 the Wordsworths stayed in Alfoxden House, where they met Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey. In the years to follow a relationship between William and Coleridge grew. Soon after William and Coleridge undertook a tour of the lakes, starting at Temple Sowerby and finishing at Wasdale Head, via Grasmere. While in Grasmere they noticed Dove Cottage and an empty Inn called the Dove and Olive Branch.

    Dove Cottage - Grasmere

    Shortly after William and Dorothy moved into Dove Cottage, where they lived for the next nine years. Dorothy became William’s secretary as William dedicated his career and life to poetry. In 1802 William married Mary Hutchinson, and the first of their five children were born shortly after. The family outgrew Dove Cottage, so they moved to Allan Bank for two years, and then on to Rydal Mount.

    Allan Bank - Grasmere

    Rydal Mount - Rydal

    William died in 1850 and Marty in 1859. Both William and Mary’s tombstones can be found in the churchyard of St. Oswald’s Church in the centre of Grasmere.

    Tombstones of William and Mary Wordsworth

    Wordsworth wrote over 70,000 lines of verse which is more than 40,000 lines more than any other poet. One of his most famous poems is ‘I wondered lonely as a cloud’. The poem is commongly known as daffodils and explores the poet’s friendship with nature, and how the memory of daffodils dancing cheers him up whenever he recalls them. Other poems include ‘Composed under Westminster Bridge’, ‘London 1802’, and ‘Tintern Abbey’.

    To see more of Wordsworth’s visit https://interestingliterature.com/2017/03/06/10-of-the-best-william-wordsworth-poems-everyone-should-read/

    Most of Wandsworth’s connections to Grasmere such as Dove cottage, Allan Bank, and Wordsworth House have been turned into museums or a National Trust attraction. Feel free to explore them on your next visit to the lakes, where you will find links for them below.

    Dove Cottage: https://wordsworth.org.uk/

    Allan Bank: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/allan-bank-and-grasmere

    Wordsworth House and Garden: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wordsworth-house

  • Rushbearing Festival with Mary Bower

    Our social media guru, Holly Goddard met up with local resident Mary Bower to find out more about the annual Grasmere  Rushbearing Festival.  Rushbearing has been celebrated in the village since 1860. It is a tradition that is celebrated every year by those living in the village who are keen to keep the tradition going.

    The Rushbearing Festival originated when rushes were laid on the church floors during the day and evening as the ground was too earthy in the winter. Celebrating Rushbearing is an ancient custom of strewing the seats with rushes, which was annually done the day after the rector had gathered his tithe wool.

    Old church with rushes on the ground

    Chruch service

    During the procession, children carry traditional bearings made by themselves, every year the bearings are different, depending on the flowers available. Just before the procession moves off, the children who have a bearing are given a five pence coin to exchange for a piece of Grasmere gingerbread. With the procession moving nearer the rush maidens appear in their green and white dresses. The rush maidens are chosen up to the age of eleven and can only be a rush maiden for two years.  The rush maidens carry the rush sheet and are positioned with one in each corner and one each side in the center.

    Rush maidens in their green and white dresses

    Joining the rush bearers are a band , the procession cross, woven with gold helenium flowers. Next comes seven of the traditional bearings from the rectory grounds, the choir, clergy, Churchwardens, and bishop. Then comes St. Oswald’s banner and the children circling the maypole held by an older girl. Followed by a band playing Jimmy Dawson’s March and Owen Lloyd’s hymn. Although there is a set order for the procession everyone can join in providing they have a bearing they have made themselves.

    Children with the maypole

    Rushbearing Festival procession

    Over the years many people in the village have contributed to the festival by making small bearings, including Mary herself. Below is a simple flower design with the words ‘HOPE RULES A LAND FOR EVER GREEN’ in cross stitch made by Mary using flowers and thread.

    Our kitchen assistant Rebeca has been a rush maiden for the Rushbearing festival, we felt this would be a good opportunity to get a picture of both Mary and Rebecca who have both been involved in the festival.

    After the observance of St. Oswald the children collect their bearings and proceed to the school field for a version of the world famous Grasmere Sports. This consists of flat races, Cumbrian wrestling and even a mini fell race. Certificates and trophies are presented to all the children who have a tea ticket which are provided with an enormous feast and a piece of Grasmere gingerbread.

    Mary has lived in Grasmere since 1966 so we felt this would be a good opportunity to ask her what she enjoyed about living in the village. “The village is lovely and I am very lucky to be close to such beautiful views of the fells”.

    Stunning view of the fells from Mary's back garden