This pretty Lake District cottage was the home of William Wordsworth from 1799 to 1808, the years of some of his best work as a poet – including the immortal lines “I wandered lonely as a cloud”.
Visitors not only tour Dove Cottage and its garden but can also explore the Wordsworth Museum and Art Gallery in a converted two-storey coach-house alongside.
It’s a charming spot to learn more about the great poet and his colourful sister who shared the house 200 years ago. Perched on the edge of Grasmere with mountains all around, it’s easy to see how they were inspired to write.
The cottage is 400-years-old and during the 18th century became an inn called the Dove and Olive. Many of the building’s features date from this time: its white-washed walls, flagstone floors and dark wood panelling.
In the early 1790s the pub closed and remained empty until William and Dorothy arrived as tenants just before Christmas 1799. The downstairs drinking room became Dorothy’s bedroom where she wrote her Grasmere Journals. Later this became William’s bedroom in preparation for his marriage to Mary Hutchinson. The unusual double washstand in this room belonged to the newly weds.
William and Dorothy used the upstairs bedroom as their sitting room because, without the dark panelling, it was a lighter place for reading, writing and entertaining. Their guests here included Sir Walter Scott, Thomas deQuincey, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The Wordsworths were succeeded as tenants at the cottage by deQuincey, who later became famous for writing The Confessions of an English Opium Eater. In 1890 a trust bought site and opened it to the public.
Words: Ian White