Literary Connections

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Hawkshead Literary Connections

Did you know? Hawkshead has connections with two of the Lake District’s most famous literary figures: William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter. Join us as we take a look at their links to the village, and the places where you can learn more about them.

William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth went to school in Hawkshead, attending the Hawkshead Grammar School between 1778 and 1787 when it was one of the best schools in England. While attending school in the village, he stayed at Ann Tyson’s cottage, and spent time enjoying the surrounding countryside. Today, the Hawkshead Grammar School is open to the public as a museum, and visitors can still see the desk on which Wordsworth carved his name.

What To See

  • Hawkshead Grammar School: discover this former grammar school and get an insight into school life between 1585 – 1909. There’s lots to discover, including a permanent exhibition dedicated to William Wordsworth.
  • The Old School House: today a B&B, it was once the home of William Wordsworth’s headmaster.
  • St Michael & All Angels Church: be sure to see ‘Church End’, which can be found outside under the east window. Also note some of the gravestone epitaphs.
  • Ann Tyson’s Cottage in Vicarage Lane: today a self-catering holiday cottage, this is where William Wordsworth and his brother lodged while attending school in the village.
  • Walk in Wordsworth’s footsteps and visit Tarn Hows (The Tarns in Wordsworth’s day); or Goosey Foot Tarn, of which Wordsworth would write “then amidst open moorland, with woodcock…”.

Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter once lived near Hawkshead, settling at Castle Cottage and purchasing the nearby Hill Top House - which provided inspiration for many of her tales. Her husband, a solicitor, had his offices in Hawkshead.

What to see

  •  Hill Top House in Near Sawrey (National Trust): Beatrix Potter’s former home, and the inspiration for many of her ‘little tales’ is now open to visitors who can explore the house and gardens.
  • Wray, where the Potter family spent their summers when National Trust founder Hardwicke Rawnsley was curate.
  • Tarn Hows, parts of which Beatrix Potter once owned and bequeathed to the National Trust in her will.
  • Be sure to keep an eye out for locations in Hawkshead which inspired different scenes from Potter’s books. These include:
  • ‘The Pie & the Patty Pan’ archway (into Vicarage Lane), used by Ribby & Duchess;
  • Thimble Hall, opposite the Post Office;
  • The Johnny Town-mouse archway between the King’s Arms and the Co-Op.
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