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Grasmere, Westmorland

Historical Description

Grasmere, a village, a vale, a lake, a township, and a parish in Westmorland. The village stands upon the Rotbay, amid charming scenery, about half a mile from the head of the lake, 3½ miles NW of Ambleside, and 7½ NW by N of Windermere railway station, presents a pleasant appearance, and has a post, money order, and telegraph office (R.S.O.) An ornate cottage behind it, called Allan Bank, was inhabited for some years by the poet Wordsworth, and another house, called Dove Cottage, at the hamlet of Town End, about a quarter of a mile from it, was inhabited by him for eight years. The vale is part of the basin of the Rothay river, extends SW about 2½ miles, but is largely occupied by the lake, and is closely engirt with hills and mountains. Several good hotels and many lodging-houses are at different points within and near it for the accommodation of tourists. The lake has an oval outline, is about 1½ mile long, ½ wide, and 180 feet deep; has an elevation of 180 feet above the level of the sea, and is gemmed at the centre with a green swelling island of about 4 acres. The views of it, from almost all points, either on its margin or on the overhanging heights, are beautiful, and they have been celebrated by Gray, De Quincey, Wordsworth, Mrs. Hemans, and other poets. Wordsworth, in particular, who spent the last thirty-seven years of his life at the neighbouring residence of Rydal Mount, has embalmed in verse almost every spot on the lake or near it, and when a dearly beloved brother had just left England, after suffering much misfortune, that poet said- " There I sit at evening, when the steep Of Silver How and Grasmere's peaceful lake, And one green island, gleam between the stems Of the dark pines-a visionary scene! And while I gaze upon the spectacle Of clouded splendour, on this dream-like sight Of solemn loveliness, I think on thee, My brother, and on all which thou hast lost."

The township comprises 7132 acres of land and 202 of water; population, 733. At the census the number was 1016, but that included the navvies working at the Thirl-mere Waterworks. The parish contains also the townships of Langdale, Rydal and Loughrigg, and part of Ambleside. Nab Scar, on the E of Grasmere, has been pierced by the tunnel for the passage of the Manchester aqueduct. The Earl of Lonsdale is lord of the manor. Rydal Hall is the seat of the Fleming family. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Carlisle; net yearly value, £186 with residence. The church is ancient; consists of nave, with aisles, chancel, and S porch, and has a square embattled tower. The churchyard contains the graves of Wordsworth and Hartley Coleridge. The vicarage of Langdale and the perpetual curacy of Rydal are separate benefices. There are a Wesleyan chapel, a reading-room, and a cemetery (1894), under the control of the local board. The famous Grasmere and Lake District Athletic Sports are held here every year in August, and prove a great attraction to visitors.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyWestmorland 
Ecclesiastical parishGrasmere St. Oswald 
Poor Law unionKendal 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Grasmere from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Westmorland is available to browse.