Cumbria in the late 1800’s was a hot bed of reformists, radical thinkers and social reformers. Like his contemporary Cumbria resident John Ruskin, Rawnsley was concerned about the rapid industrialisation of Britain. Consequently, he and his wife Edith, an artist, set up the Keswick School of Industrial Arts. He then met up with radical conservationists Robert Hunter and Octavia Hill. Between them, they set up The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty in 1895.
This itinerary will take you through the very heart of the Lake District.
Like William Wordsworth, Rawnsley lived at Allen Bank in Grasmere and the house will be marking his centenary. The Beatrix Potter Gallery, in Hawkshead will give you an insight into the relationship between Canon Rawnsley and Beatrix Potter.
But it was at his little parish of Wray on the western shores of Windermere that it all began. The Gothic-Revival Wray Castle has a little church in its grounds where Hardwicke held his first ministry.
Next, head to the Armitt Museum in Ambleside – a real gem of a museum, library and gallery. Amongst his many talents and interests, Rawnsley was a journalist and a poet who wrote copiously about the Lake District. Here you will find his unique book collections, and truly stunning collections of Beatrix Potter’s many books, some drawings, and her collection of fungi paintings.
Continue north and seek out Crosthwaite Church, Keswick. Between 23-30 May sees exhibits of Hardwicke Rawnsley’s life, Edith Rawnsley’s textiles and designs a decorative Arts & Crafts objects by Keswick School of Industrial Arts. There is a beautifully designed Arts & Crafts plaque near the font dedicated to Canon Rawnsley.
While in Keswick a visit to Keswick Museum is a must with a newly designed exhibition gallery dedicated to Canon Rawnsley and the Arts & Crafts movement. The museum itself is a beautiful Arts & Craft house. Rawnsley lived here in Keswick during his most active years of campaigning, and his tireless energy has left an incredible legacy of beautiful and special places.