Reliving Wordsworth’s Schooldays: Colthouse and Hawkshead

Wednesday March 15, 2017:

lowly cottageOn Wednesday, one of our first excursions was to Anne Tyson’s house, where Wordsworth lived while he was a student at Hawkshead Grammar School. We took a bus—driven by Jeff Cowton, the curator of the Jerwood Centre—from our hotel in Grasmere to Hawkshead. Formerly a National Trust house, Colthouse is now a normal family home. The garden was strewn with childrens’ toys, and DVDs could be seen through the window. During his school days at Hawkshead, Wordsworth resided with Anne Tyson at Colthouse. It seemed almost natural that a young Wordsworth would have spent his time here. Professor Worsley read some lines here:

Ye lowly cottages wherein we dwelt,

A ministration of your own was yours;

Can I forget you, being as you were

So beautiful among the pleasant fields

In which ye stood? or can I here forget

The plain and seemly countenance with which

Ye dealt out your plain comforts? Yet had ye

Delights and exultations of your own.

Upon returning to Anne Tyson’s home after having been a student at Cambridge, Wordsworth writes in Book Fourth of The Prelude:

Glad welcome had I, with some tears, perhaps,

From my old Dame, so kind and motherly,

While she perused me with a parent’s pride.

The thoughts of gratitude shall fall like dew

Upon thy grave, good creature! While my heart

Can beat never will I forget thy name.

Heaven’s blessing be upon thee where thou liest

After thy innocent and busy stir

In narrow cares, thy little daily growth

Of calm enjoyments, after eighty years,

And more than eighty, of untroubled life;

Childless, yet by the strangers to thy blood

Honoured with little less than filial love.

We then walked the route that a young Wordsworth would have traveled to school every morning.

It was about twenty minutes, and we traveled past a brook and over several small hills.

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colthouse

Upon arriving at Hawkshead, Aaron recounted Wordsworth’s description of his early morning walks before school in The Prelude:
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Unfortunately, the school was closed for the winter. A few of us were able to look inside and get a view of what was inside. We were also able to look at the daffodils that were only a few feet away. After this, we continued on our way to Swarthmoor Hall.

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