On our recent trip ‘up north’ we dropped in at Allan Bank in Grasmere. Now I am well aware that sharing one’s holiday photos is fraught with disaster …. but bear with me on this one there is a point to it!
This National Trust property is littered with history – building a new house and blocking someone’s view, the home to one of our greatest poets and his literary friends, the spiritual home to the NT itself and the opening up of the place after a nearly catastrophic fire.
Allan Bank was built in 1805-08 by John Crump and by doing so he ‘ruined’ the view for William Wordsworth who lived just down the road in Dove Cottage. Wordsworth called the house as it was built ‘a temple of abomination’! In 1808 the Wordsworths moved into Allan Bank and by all accounts he warmed a little to the building. Wordsworth lived there for many years hosted other 17th century luminaries such as Coleridge and De Quincy.
Later in its history Canon Rawnsley moved in and in 1895 formed the National Trust with Octavia Hill and Robert Hunter – part of their reason for this was the proposed sale of an island in Grasmere. upon his death Rawnsley bequeathed Allan Bank to the National Trust. His wife Eleanor lived there until 1951. The house then became a family home providing no access to the public but in 2010 the NT carried out a major building project to upgrade the roof and the wiring only for this to be unravelled by an extensive fire in 2011 (I remember hearing about this on the news at the time).
In 2012 the Trust opened Allan Bank to the public for the first time and it was done in a way that was very un-Trust-like – ‘it is warm and homely despite being left with the bare bones showing’. You can read a fuller account of the Allan Bank story on the Grasmere Village blog here.
The billiard room looks like a chapel and is now home to ‘50 Things to do before yo are 11 3/4!
I can really recommend Allan Bank as a place to visit if you are ever up in the Lake District – it is a unique experience and one I don’t think you will be disappointed by. Recommend it too if you work for the Trust as well – lots to learn from here.