The house where William Wordsworth was born in 1770 still commands an imposing position on Cockermouth's main street. His father John Wordsworth was an agent for James Lowther and moved into the house with his new wife Anne (nee Cookson) in 1766. They had already had their first son, Richard, in 1768 and after William came Dorothy in 1771, John in 1772 and Christopher in 1774. Anne had a maid called Amy who would have helped her prepare meals and run the house and there was also nurse when Dorothy was born. As John's place of work, and thus a centre for administration of James Lowther, there was also a clerk who was employed there and no doubt numerous visitors were entertained for business as well as pleasure. This would have all gone to make the house a very busy place.
The building is well preserved and owned by the National Trust who have recently refurbished it to the style of Wordsworth's time. Characters occupy the house in period costume to give a real feeling of the building as it was whilst William Wordsworth was a child there. The re-enactors prepare food in the kitchen, do tapestry in the parlour, write with a quill in the office and act as guides to the house. They also provide plenty of information about their 18th century lives when questioned.
A particular feature is the walled garden with its terrace along the river Cocker and it is easy to imagine William Wordsworth as a child living an ideal life playing in the garden with his brothers and sister.
Tragically, his mother, Anne died at her parents when he was only 8 years old and his father died at home when he was still only 13. Due to debts incurred by his father on James Lowther's business they had to leave Cockermouth and William and his beloved sister were soon separated. Later in life they both wrote of the pleasant times they enjoyed at his house.
Across the road from the house a simple bronze bust acts as a memorial to this giant of romantic poetry now known throughout the world.
Wordsworth House Website
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© WAWL 2006