Grasmere (village)

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Grasmere 2, Cumbria - June 2009.jpg
Location map United Kingdom South Lakeland.svg
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Location in South Lakeland
Cumbria UK location map.svg
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Location within Cumbria
OS grid reference NY335074
Civil parish
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district LA22
Dialling code 015394
Police Cumbria
Fire Cumbria
Ambulance North West
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54°27′29″N3°01′29″W / 54.45809°N 3.024588°W / 54.45809; -3.024588 Coordinates: 54°27′29″N3°01′29″W / 54.45809°N 3.024588°W / 54.45809; -3.024588
Grasmere village and lake as seen from the fell of Stone Arthur Grasmere from Stone Arthur.jpg
Grasmere village and lake as seen from the fell of Stone Arthur

Grasmere is a village and tourist destination in Cumbria, England, in the centre of the Lake District, named after its adjacent lake. It has links with the Lake Poets: William and Dorothy Wordsworth lived in Grasmere for 14 years and called it "the loveliest spot that man hath ever found." [2] Grasmere lies within the historic county of Westmorland. In 1961, the civil parish had a population of 1,029. [3] That of the Ambleside and Grasmere ward was 4,475 in the 2011 census and estimated at 4,592 in 2019. [4]



One possibility is "the lake (mere) flanked by grass." Although early spellings with "Grys-" or "Gris(s)-" might suggest Old Norse "griss", meaning "young pig" as the first element, evidence points to the Old English/Old Norse "gres", meaning grass, with the modern form influenced by Standard English. The medial "-s(s)e-" may, as suggested by Ekwall, [5] point to the Old Norse "gres-saer" or "grass-lake" as the original name. [6] The element "mere" refers to a still extant word meaning "lake" or "pool". [7]


William and Dorothy Wordsworth lived in Grasmere for 14 years and called it "the loveliest spot that man hath ever found." [2]


The village is on the River Rothay, which flows into Grasmere lake about 0.5 km to the south. The village is overlooked from the north-west by the rocky hill of Helm Crag, popularly known as The Lion and the Lamb or the Old Lady at the organ. These names derive from the shape of rock formations on its summit, depending on the side from which it is viewed. [8]

The several walks that begin in the village include 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. [9]

Grasmere Village Grasmere 1, Cumbria - June 2009.jpg
Grasmere Village

The main A591 road connects Grasmere to the Vale of Keswick over Dunmail Raise to the north, and to Ambleside to the south. In other directions, Grasmere is surrounded by high ground. (At Christmas 2015, the A591 was washed away on the Keswick side of Dunmail Raise, causing traffic to make a long detour. It reopened in May 2016.) 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 lies on the main A591 road between Keswick and Kendal.

It is served by the Stagecoach 555 bus service connecting towns such as Keswick and Lancaster. [10] In summer it is also served by a Stagecoach open-top double-decker 599 service, which runs between Grasmere and Bowness-on-Windermere.

The nearest railway station is at Windermere (9 miles), which has hourly local services.

Communal events


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 others carrying their own decorated rush-bearing.

St Oswald's Church, decorated for the Rushbearing Day St Oswald's Church, Grasmere.jpg
St Oswald's Church, decorated for the Rushbearing Day


The annual Grasmere Sports in August were first held in 1852. Participants compete in a variety of sports, including Cumberland wrestling, fell running and hound trails (similar to drag hunting). [11]

Dove Cottage Dove Cottage.jpg
Dove Cottage


Grasmere contains the winner of the "Get Started Award 2014" awarded by the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs: the Handmade Chocolate Shop. [12] Grasmere Gingerbread is made to a "secret recipe" popularised by Sarah Nelson (1815–1904). [13] [14] By the early 19th century, Grasmere gingerbread was being sold as fairings and as a popular seller in its own right. [15] Poet Dorothy Wordsworth wrote in 1803 that she and her brother William craved the gingerbread. [15]


Until September 2013, Grasmere's three main church parishes (Catholic, Church of England and Methodist) gathered three times a year to celebrate mass in the Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Wayside. Grasmere also has a Quaker guest house, Glenthorne, where Quaker meetings of worship are held.


The Lakes were governed by an urban district council, before becoming part of the Lakes Urban District in 1934. [16] The parish was abolished on 1 April 1974 to form Lakes. [17] Grasmere is represented by Liberal Democrat politicians on the district and county councils, and at Westminster. [18] Grasmere has lost population since the 1960s. [19]

In Art and Literature

George Pickering painted many views around Grasmere, and an engraving of one of these, Grassmere Lake and Village, Westmorland, was published in Fisher's Drawing Room Sketch Book, 1834, accompanied by a humorous sketch by Letitia Elizabeth Landon about a lover of poetry who, given a legacy, buys a property here only to find extraordinary steps would be required to make life bearable. [20]

Notable persons

Grasmere seen from Heron Pike Grasmere from near Alcock Tarn.jpg
Grasmere seen from Heron Pike

In birth order:

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ambleside</span> Human settlement in England

Ambleside is a town and former civil parish, now in the parish of Lakes, in Cumbria, in North West England. Historically in Westmorland, it marks the head of Windermere, England's largest natural lake. In the Lake District National Park, it is south of the highest road pass in the Lake District, Kirkstone Pass and both places are the meeting point of well-marked paths and mountain hiking trails. In 2020 it had an estimated population of 2596. In 1961 the parish had a population of 2562.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Keswick, Cumbria</span> Town in the Lake District, England

Keswick is a market town and civil parish in the Allerdale Borough in Cumbria, England. Historically, until 1974, it was part of Cumberland. It lies within the Lake District National Park, Keswick is just north of Derwentwater and is four miles from Bassenthwaite Lake. It had a population of 5,243 at the 2011 census.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud</span> Lyric poem by William Wordsworth

"I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" is a lyric poem by William Wordsworth. It is one of his most popular, and was inspired by a forest encounter on 15 April 1802 between he, his younger sister Dorothy and a "long belt" of daffodils. Written in 1804, it was first published in 1807 in Poems, in Two Volumes, and as a revision in 1815.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rydal Mount</span>

Rydal Mount is a house in the small village of Rydal, near Ambleside in the English Lake District. It is best known as the home of the poet William Wordsworth from 1813 to his death in 1850. It is currently operated as a writer's home museum.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Aira Force</span> Waterfall in Matterdale, Cumbria

Aira Force is a waterfall in the English Lake District, in the civil parish of Matterdale and the county of Cumbria. The site of the waterfall is owned by the National Trust.

The Lake Poets were a group of English poets who all lived in the Lake District of England, United Kingdom, in the first half of the nineteenth century. As a group, they followed no single "school" of thought or literary practice then known. They were named, only to be uniformly disparaged, by the Edinburgh Review. They are considered part of the Romantic Movement.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bowness-on-Windermere</span> Human settlement in England

Bowness-on-Windermere is a town and former civil parish, now in the parish of Windermere, in South Lakeland, Cumbria, England. Due to its position on the banks of Windermere, the town has become a tourist honeypot. Although their mutual growth has caused them to become one large settlement, the town is distinct from the town of Windermere as the two still have distinguishable town centres. Historically part of Westmorland, in 2012, Bowness was one of the official stop off points for the Olympic torch before it made its way to the Olympic Games opening ceremony. In 1951 the parish had a population of 3345.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">River Rothay</span> River in Cumbria, England

The Rothay is a spate river of the Lake District in north-west England. Its name comes from Old Norse and translates literally as the red one. This has come to mean trout river. It rises close to Rough Crag above Dunmail Raise at a point about 1542 feet above sea level. Its catchment area covers Grasmere Common including Easedale Tarn, the southern flanks of Fairfield, and several of the fells to the east of Dunmail Raise, including Great Rigg, Rydal Fell, Scandale Fell and Heron Pike.

The Wordsworth Trust is an independent charity in the United Kingdom. It celebrates the life of the poet William Wordsworth, and looks after Dove Cottage in the Lake District village of Grasmere where Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy Wordsworth lived between 1799 and 1808. It also looks after the majority of the surrounding properties in the conservation area of Town End, and a collection of manuscripts, books and fine art relating to Wordsworth and other writers and artists of the Romantic period. In 2020 it introduced the brand name Wordsworth Grasmere.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lakes, Cumbria</span> Human settlement in England

Lakes is a large civil parish in the South Lakeland district of Cumbria, England. In the 2001 census the parish had a population of 5,127, decreasing at the 2011 census to 4,420. It covers the small town of Ambleside, and the villages and hamlets of Clappersgate, Rydal, Grasmere, Troutbeck, Chapel Stile, Elterwater, Little Langdale and Waterhead.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dunmail</span>

Dunmail is a legendary king of Cumberland associated with Dunmail Raise. According to tradition, Dunmail was the last king of Cumberland, and buried beneath the cairn at Dunmail Raise after having been slain by the English. Dunmail Raise, meaning "Dyfnwal's Cairn", may well be named after the historical Dyfnwal ab Owain, King of Strathclyde.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dunmail Raise</span> Mountain and mountain pass in the English Lake District, Cumbria, England

Dunmail Raise is the name of a large cairn in the English Lake District, which may have been an old boundary marker. It has given its name to the mountain pass of Dunmail Raise, on which it stands. This mountain pass forms part of the only low-level route through the mountains between the northern and southern sides of the Lake District. According to local tradition, the cairn marked the burial of a king named Dunmail who was slain by Saxons. The place name itself may well be derived from the name of the historical Dyfnwal ab Owain, King of Strathclyde.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rydal Water</span> A lake in Cumbria, England

Rydal Water is a small body of water in the central part of the English Lake District, in the county of Cumbria. It is located near the hamlet of Rydal, between Grasmere and Ambleside in the Rothay Valley.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">A591 road</span> Road in Cumbria

The A591 is a major road in Cumbria, in the north-west of England, which lies almost entirely within the Lake District national park. A 2009 poll by satellite navigation firm Garmin named the stretch of the road between Windermere and Keswick as the most popular road in Britain. The 29.8 mile stretch between Kendal and Keswick was also named the UK's best driving road, according to a specially devised driving ratio formulated by car rental firm Avis.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dove Cottage</span>

Dove Cottage is a house on the edge of Grasmere in the Lake District of England. It is best known as the home of the poet William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy Wordsworth from December 1799 to May 1808, where they spent over eight years of "plain living, but high thinking". During this period, William wrote much of the poetry for which he is remembered today, including his "Ode: Intimations of Immortality", "Ode to Duty", "My Heart Leaps Up" and "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud", together with parts of his autobiographical epic, The Prelude.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rydal, Cumbria</span> Human settlement in England

Rydal is a village in Cumbria, England. It is a small cluster of houses, a hotel, and St Mary's Church, on the A591 road midway between Ambleside and Grasmere.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">St Oswald's Church, Grasmere</span> Church in Cumbria, England

St Oswald's Church is in the village of Grasmere, in the Lake District, Cumbria, England. It is an active Anglican parish church in the deanery of Windermere, the archdeaconry of Westmorland and Furness, and the diocese of Carlisle. The church is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade I listed building. As well as its architectural interest, the church is notable for its associations with the poet, William Wordsworth and his family, and for its annual ceremony of rushbearing.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Greta Hall</span>

Greta Hall is a house in Keswick in the Lake District of England. It is best known as the home of the poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Allan Bank</span> House, built 1805, in Cumbria, England

Allan Bank is a grade II listed two-storey villa standing on high ground slightly to the west of Grasmere village in the heart of the Lake District. It is best known for being from 1808 to 1811 the home of William Wordsworth, but it was also occupied at various times by Dorothy Wordsworth, Dora Wordsworth, Thomas De Quincey, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas Arnold, Matthew Arnold and Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley. It is now owned by the National Trust and is open to the public.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">St Mary's Church, Rydal</span> Church in Cumbria, England

St Mary's Church is in the village of Rydal in the Lake District, Cumbria, England. It is an active Anglican parish church in the deanery of Windermere, the archdeaconry of Westmorland and Furness, and the diocese of Carlisle. The church, built in the Gothic revival style, is situated off the A591 road between Ambleside and Grasmere and is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade II* listed building.


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  23. ,