Thursday, December 5, 2013

Allan Bank, Grasmere, England

Allan Bank has a rather unique history as a National Trust property. The home was built by John Gregory Crump from 1805-1808. William Wordsworth, his family, and his sister Dorothy moved into the home in May of 1808. They lived for a few years there then moved to the Rectory in nearby Grasmere (nearby means at the bottom of the hill). The estate was later bought by Thomas Dawson who made some changes. Eventually it was sold to Canon H. D. Rawnsley, one of the founders of the National Trust, in 1915. He bequeathed it to the Trust but his wife continued to live there until 1951. The home was then rented out by the National Trust to families into the 21st century. A massive fire destroyed much of the building in 2011. Undaunted, the Trust began to repair the damage. The home was opened again in March 2012 with minimal furnishings and a simple kitchen that provides self-catered tea, coffee, and snacks. 27,000 people visited in the first year, so the National Trust is putting more resources toward restoring the house.

The plan for now is to leave the house more homey, with the tea and treats available to take to any room inside. Most of the rooms have something to entertain the children. We were in Grasmere on a rainy day so it made the perfect place to visit so the kids could have good, clean, dry fun.

Walking up the hill was a good five- to ten-minute walk with the kids through the rain, so we weren't too dry on arrival. The house itself is fairly plain looking, with a small side house that the lady inside said is the Billiards House, obviously also meant for entertaining back in the day.

Allan Bank, Grasmere, UK

The Billiards House

J and L didn't waste any time getting to the fun. One of the back rooms on the ground floor is full of toys and the children started their adventures there.

J at play (mostly making L disappear from the picture)

The main hall has a staircase that winds around to the various bedrooms and sitting rooms upstairs. The fire damage is still visible here, perhaps as an inspiration to donate more?

Stairs with piano

Scorched sunlight

More fire damage

Upstairs doorway

One parlor was empty except for a nice, if rainy, view of the lake below. Certainly views like these on good days were inspirational for Wordsworth and his guests.

A random parlor/former bedroom?

Rainy view of lake in the distance

One room had a small sign saying it was the Coleridge Bedroom. Yes, it is named after Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the author of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. The room is well kitted out with books and desks. The view is also well kited out, if you look in the tree to the left.

Coleridge writing corner

Coleridge reading corner

Room with a view of a kite in a tree

One of the back rooms has a bunch of board games and jigsaw puzzles. We tried our hand at some of the games though L mostly wanted to make up her own rules. She won quite often. I tied her once in her adapted version of Nine Man Morris.

Room with games

Also upstairs is a room full of typewriters. The kids were fascinated with them but unable to strike hard enough to get them to type legibly. It was fun for me to teach them some analog tech.

Writers' room

L types!

Downstairs, a room was set up for painting. All ages are encouraged to try their hands at making a picture. L jumped in with enthusiasm and made a portrait of me. We hung it to dry and were lucky enough to remember to pick it up on our way out of the house.

Painting room

L paints!

The drying arch

L's Portrait of My Father Smiling

Downstairs also has the modern kitchen with free tea and coffee and treats for sale. We didn't take advantage of this since we were chasing the children around. Others were taking advantage of the many sitting areas, fireplaces and windows, to take a cuppa against the cold damp of the Lakes.

Modern kitchen

A cozy fireplace

A less cozy fireplace

A not cozy at all fireplace

Down the hall from the new kitchen is the old kitchen which is in the process of restoration. They were even asking for donations of vintage and vintage-type items to furnish the kitchen properly.

The old kitchen

The start of their furnishings

The kids could care less about that. They were trying out their magic tricks on Mommy. Mostly, they would make marbles disappear. The important thing for these kinds of tricks is to distract the audience while the item is surreptitiously hidden. J and L used the rather direct technique of saying, "Look over there!" while they hid the marble. It worked quite well on Mommy. And on me as well. They loved being able to do a trick that Mommy and Daddy couldn't repeat.

As lunch was approaching we headed back down the hill to see if we could find any food or treats in town. It wasn't a long walk but it was a wet one, so we just picked up some famous gingerbread from the Grasmere Gingerbread Shop for dessert. We went back to the hotel for lunch.

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