Monthly Archives: April 2015

Rydal Hall: The best place to escape on polling day

A day of quiet reflection is being offered at Rydal Hall near Ambleside – coincidentally on the day of the general election.

The event, Lectio Divina – a prayerful dialogue in the Scriptures, will be led by a Catholic priest, Father Luiz Ruscillo.

It aims to give visitors time to enjoy reflections on passages from the Gospels, with guidance on how to pray with, and in, them.

The day is the third in a series of six quiet days throughout the year reflecting the Christian journey. They offer individuals a brief oasis of space in their busy lives to reflect upon the spiritual life and to pray in the peace and beauty of Rydal. The day starts with coffee at 9.30am and ends with tea at 4.00pm. The cost per person, including a simple lunch and refreshments, is £20.

Fr. Luiz Ruscillo is Parish Priest of Hornby and Kirby Lonsdale, and Head of the Diocese of Lancaster Education Service. He was ordained in 1990 and studied Scripture in Rome and Jerusalem.

For further information and bookings for the event on May 7, please call 015394 32050  or email:


Release date for film shot in the Lakes

A film shot on location in the Lake District and starring local actors is to go on public release.

The Raven on the Jetty, made by One Day Films, will be screened initially at Zeffirellis in Ambleside on May 18, The Royalty, Bowness on Windermere on Thursday  May 28, and The Roxy, Ulverston on Thursday June 4.

The film, made during 2013 near Penrith and around Ullswater, was shown last year at Keswick Film Festival and has since been screened at festivals across the globe.

It tells the story of a boy called Thomas who, on his ninth birthday, travels with his mother to visit his estranged father. Since an acrimonious divorce, he has abandoned urban living in favour of an isolated rural life in the Lake District.

The bitter separation of his parents is not something Thomas understands, nor does he understand his own dysfunctional behaviour as a silent cry for help. As a native city boy of the digital age, Thomas’s encounter with the natural world, and his gradual understanding of the connection he provides for his lonely parents, leads to realisation and discovery. There are things his parents don’t know about each other that only he can reveal. Perhaps he has the power and the means to change everything.

A 12 year old boy, Connor O’Hara, from Ulverston, plays the boy, Thomas. His father, Rob O’Hara, plays the part of the father, with Helen Teasdale from Carlisle as his mother. Other roles were played by Anne Fraser from Ambleside and Anne Lees from Kendal. The director, Eric Knudsen, was keen to work with non-professionals from the area where the film was set.

Connor has been part of community theatre productions since the age of six. He also sings and plays the trumpet, and has won awards for music and singing. His father Rob, a former maths teacher, has also been involved in community theatre for many years.

Shooting took place during the Easter holidays in 2013. The whole cast and crew lived in a couple of cottages near the primary locations. “This allowed for a communal feel to the production process and was an efficient way of organising the shoot,” says Knudsen. “It meant that the principal photography took only two weeks, in part because the production was blessed with uncharacteristically good weather.”

The film is also being distributed online at, iTunes and Google Play.

A signed and numbered Limited Edition Production Scrapbook and DVD is also available. The book is the story of the film, scene by scene, and includes the complete final screenplay and the DVD of the film.

One Day Films Limited is committed to the production and distribution of quality, thought-provoking independent films and has produced a number of creative documentaries and feature films. Past funding partners have included the Danish Film Institute, Channel Four Television, the EU’s Media Programme, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Arts Council England North West and a number of private investors.

Wordsworth biographer star of literary lunch

lit lunch team photo

Tributes to William Wordsworth, the poet and the man, were paid at a celebration literary lunch in Ambleside.

The curators of Wordsworth’s home at Rydal Mount, Peter and Marian Elkington, hosted the lunch at the Old Stamp House restaurant, the third and final event to mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of Daffodils.

Chef Ryan Blackburn and his brother Craig, who own the restaurant in the building where Wordsworth worked as a civil servant, the Distributor of Stamps, created a Cumbrian-themed menu for the occasion.

The guest speaker, the eminent historian and biographer Juliet Barker, who has written two books about Wordsworth, spoke of her affection for Rydal Mount: “I get the strong sense that this was the home that was most important to Wordsworth,  that he and his family loved. It is the most wonderful place.”

Her talk focused on the two versions of Daffodils, the longer and definitive one being that published from Rydal Mount in 1815. She said: “I think it is one of the most important and evocative poems Wordsworth ever wrote. It encapsulates Wordsworth’s great idea about what he thought poetry was, ‘the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings’ and, like all his work, it was meant to be read aloud.

“It epitomises for me everything that Wordsworth the poet and the man was about.” She countered the critics who have tried to imply that the poem was Dorothy’s work.

“Though he and Dorothy saw the daffodils together, and she recorded the event in her journal, he wrote her out of the account with ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’. Dorothy’s journal was an aide memoire, but he makes the poem his own. She was his eyes and ears but it was not a poem Dorothy could have written. She doesn’t have the depth that Wordsworth brings to the poem.”

There were two lines in the final version, however, that Wordsworth did acknowledge were written by his wife, Mary:

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude

“That was the only time he ever said that someone else wrote any of his lines,” said Ms Barker.

Among the guests at the lunch was the artist Hideyuki Sobue whose new portrait of Wordsworth was unveiled at Rydal Mount earlier this month. Curator Peter Elkington said that he hoped the literary lunch would be the first in a series hosted by Rydal Mount at the Old Stamp House.

Pictured are guests at the lunch, from left to right: Vicky Robinson, Peter Elkington, Juliet Barker, Mary-Anne Elkington, Marian Elkington, James Barker and Mike Robinson

Breaking the charity records at London marathon

caroline ready for london

Windermere runner Caroline Kaye looks set to be a record-breaker at the London Marathon  on Sunday.

Caroline, co-owner of the Cedar Manor Hotel, will be breaking some fund-raising targets when she runs the race, her very first marathon.

Her efforts at London and in last autumn’s Great North Run have already netted more than £6,000 for the charity Lupus UK.

Caroline raised £2,761 at the half marathon distance last year, when the sponsorship set by the charity was just £300. Her tally was the highest in the UK for Lupus UK, and she is now in the top five nationwide among all charity fundraisers using the Just Giving online scheme, heading to more than double that total.

Friends, family and hotel guests have been supporting her efforts, and buying raffle tickets; the winning ticket will be picked when Caroline crosses the finishing line on April 26.

“I wanted to do a marathon before my 50th birthday, and I’ll manage it by just a couple of weeks,” she said. “My daughter Natalie was diagnosed with Lupus when she was 15, six years ago.  I hadn’t heard about the condition and it’s still little known.  Lupus is an incurable disease whereby the immune system attacks the body, and its organs; the skin, blood, brain, heart lungs are affected and it manifests itself in different ways.

“Natalie is a sufferer but appears normal and has a “normal” life, with what we call flare-ups, when the disease attacks her.  She has a special doctor who looks after her at St Thomas’s Hospital London. So it’s really important to me to help Lupus UK research causes and possible cures.”

Janine Hirsch, Fundraising Manager for Lupus UK said: “When Caroline ran for Lupus UK in the Great North Run, the sponsorship set was £300 so to raise nearly £3,000 is absolutely fantastic.   Caroline is now undertaking the world’s most prestigious event, the Virgin London Marathon and we wish her the very best of luck.  Lupus UK can only continue our work if people like Caroline take part in these events and raise the wonderful sponsorship that she has done.  We thank her so much Caroline for her fantastic support of our work.”

Individual runners in last year’s London Marathon set yet another record figure for charity fundraising for good causes by generating £53.2 million. The average amount raised by every London Marathon Golden Bond charity runner was £2,407. It was the eighth consecutive year that London Marathon entrants broke the Guinness World Record for the largest annual single-day charity fundraising event worldwide.

The total raised for hundreds of charitable causes since the race began in 1981 is more than £716 million.

Want to donate? Here’s how.

A Vital Spirit: the life and work of Ophelia Gordon Bell

ophelia carving JPG

A major exhibition highlighting the work of an accomplished sculptor of the 20th century opens in Grasmere  later this month.

Ophelia Gordon Bell  (1915 – 1975) is known as the wife of landscape painter William Heaton Cooper. But the new show, A Vital Spirit, aims to bring attention to her own life and extraordinary talent.

Born in London and brought up among the artists of St John’s Wood in London, Gordon Bell was equally at home in the Lake District where her maternal grandfather was vicar of Urswick near Ulverston.

Trained in London, she exhibited at the Royal Academy, the Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts, and the Royal Scottish Academy.

Her work can be found throughout Britain, from a carving of St Bede at a Carlisle church to the giant stone figures, Thought and Action, outside the Risley HQ of the former Atomic Energy Authority in Lancashire.

Perhaps her most celebrated work is the bronze head of mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary. She also created many pieces portraying the characters of the Lakeland fells – shepherds and farmers and houndtrailers.

It was during a visit to the Lakes that met William Heaton Cooper.  They married and made their home in Grasmere and had four children. One of her sons, the painter Julian Cooper, is curating the new exhibition. He says: “She was truly a vital spirit. Everyone who met Ophelia was struck by her. Even if they did not know of her artistic skill, they were witnesses to her great vitality and kindness.

“She was a most remarkable woman, bringing together the two enormously contrasting worlds of London and the Lakes, and bringing immense vitality to everything she created.”

The exhibition will feature examples of her work as a student, as well as her industrial and religious commissions, and portrait heads.

A Vital Spirit: the work of Ophelia Gordon Bell opens at Grasmere’s Heaton Cooper Studio on May 18



  • During the Second World War she drove ambulances for the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry
  • Ophelia and her mother made their home with an aunt and uncle, Dr Caleb Saleeby and his wife, Muriel,  in St John’s Wood, after Winifred and her husband divorced. Ophelia was educated at home with a governess, and was taken on chauffeur-driven grand tours of Europe. But she was equally at home on the Lakeland fells.
  • Ophelia was the daughter of Winifred Gordon Bell, a renowned animal painter.
  • One of her early works – which remains one of her most famous – was The Dalesman, made in her London studio from her memories of a man coming down the Lakeland fells to a farm. It was entered for the prestigious Prix de Rome.
  •  Ophelia’s full name was Joan Ophelia Gordon Bell.  One member of her mother’s branch of the family is always christened ‘Ophelia’ and ‘Gordon’ as appropriate, to keep the names alive. According to the family story, the original Ophelia Gordon was the only child and daughter of the 5th Duke of Gordon, who died in 1836, and she was cut off from inheriting the title when she eloped with an Englishman called Captain Sinclair in the late 18th or early 19th century. (Scottish inheritance could go to the female line.)
  •  The Heaton Cooper Studio in Grasmere was opened by William Heaton Cooper in 1938.   It is a hugely popular tourist attraction, with more than 90,000 visitors last year. It features work by the Heaton Cooper family and guest artists, with the Lakeland landscape at the heart of the gallery’s displays.
  •  The Heaton Cooper family tree is a pictorial essay on the development of art in the Lake District and beyond. There are 10 artists represented, including the sculptor Ophelia Gordon Bell, (herself the daughter of the animal painter Winifred Gordon Bell) and Julian Cooper, the internationally renowned painter whose recent work has been concerned with finding a relevant contemporary language for painting mountains and rock all over the world. The most well known works are by Alfred and William, each distinctively capturing the magnificence and beauty of rock and fell, stream and lake.
  •  Julian Cooper, the son of William Heaton Cooper and the sculptor Ophelia Gordon Bell, is an internationally known painter, represented by Art Space Gallery, London. He is a member of the Alpine Club, and has climbed throughout Britain and the Alps.

Great base for runners in the footsteps of legend Joss

tribute to joss picp128

An exhibition about fell-running legend Joss Naylor has opened the eyes of running clubs to a great place to stay in the Lakes.

Runners flocked to the exhibition at the Old School Room tea shop at Rydal Hall near Ambleside, which featured the work of Elizabeth Shorrock .

The Hall’s grounds are familiar to everyone who’s run the Fairfield Horseshoe, but now they learn that the building itself would be an ideal base for races and for training weekends.

Rydal Hall with its 34 acres of gardens and woodland and built by the Le Fleming family is now a Christian conference, holiday and retreat centre. The hall has 30 bedrooms which can be let for conference use or on a daily bed and breakfast basis by holidaymakers – and runners or walkers –  who want a real escape. There’s no TV in the rooms, but no religious expectation either; the team say that the ethos is of hospitality and welcome.

“It’s a wonderful location” was the verdict of a running group from the Midlands who were doing a “recce” of the popular mountain race.

“We knew there was a camp site, and we’ve seen the camping pods, but the Hall itself will be a perfect place to stay when we need a bit more comfort at the end of the day.”

One of the most magnificent buildings in the Lakes, Rydal Hall overlooks the formal Edwardian gardens designed by the garden designer, landscape architect and town planner Thomas Hayton Mawson (1861-1933) in 1911. The Italianate terracing includes herbaceous borders and lawns set against the imposing architecture of the Hall.

More details:

Lakeland rowing club launches on Windermere


Cumbrians are learning to row on Windermere for the first time as a new British Rowing-affiliated course begins.

Lakeland Rowing Club has recently set up a South Lakes base to complement its northern base on Derwent Water.

James Andrews, from British Rowing said: “The work done over the past year has been really terrific from Lakeland Rowing Club. The beautiful water in the Lake District has always shown much promise for rowing but has never until now taken off. With the dedicated effort that Lakeland RC’s volunteers have been putting in to fund new equipment and up-skill volunteers with coaching qualifications, they will now be able to open up rowing to a larger audience on the lakes.”

The Learn to Row courses aim to introduce people to the sport in a fun way in crews of four in stable boats, with learn to rowers of all ages.

The club has raised £20,000 for two stable Swift quads, which are now being put to good use as 32 people begin learning to row over the next five weeks.

Lakeland Rowing Club Coach Fiona Marley Paterson said: “It’s really exciting to see all the hard work in setting up our Windermere base and raising the funds for these boats culminate in people rowing on the lake. You may have seen wooden rowing boats on Windermere, but I hope people will spot us in our sliding seat boats now too and maybe even give us a wave. We’re a friendly bunch and we’re always happy to welcome new rowers.

“The Lakeland Rowing Club is now well-established on Derwentwater. We are looking forward to expanding our activities to Windermere, and introducing the growing sport of rowing to people in South Lakeland and Furness.”

The club also has two stable Virus singles, donated by friends at Chester-le-Street Rowing Club, who recently brought over 50 members and 20 boats to row on Derwent Water.

The modest ‘fleet’ of four boats will be rowed down from the club’s temporary base at Low Wood Marina to a more permanent home at National Trust property Fell Foot Park on Sunday May 10, in time for their first Windermere Races the following week.

Roger Heise, Chairman of Lakeland Rowing Club said: “We’re really grateful to the Low Wood Marina, which came to the club’s aid and provided us with a place to start rowing on Windermere.”

Novices from the Learn to Row courses will train and compete with more experienced rowers for a fun day of racing, cakes and a BBQ on Sunday May 17. Members of the public are invited to come and watch the races, join in the cheering and of course share the BBQ.

Gareth Field, Outdoor and Sports Programme Manager for the National Trust said: “It’s exciting to bring the sport of rowing back to Fell Foot. It’s such a great way to get onto Windermere and we’re thrilled to have Lakeland Rowing Club as part of the crew.  The National Trust wants to create more opportunities for local people to enjoy getting active at Fell Foot or across the Lakes, whether it’s rowing, running, swimming or sailing, and, whether beginner or pro, there’s a sport for everyone.”

Lakeland Rowing Club is the only rowing club in the Lake District and only the second in Cumbria and was established in 2007.

The club has further plans to grow, with more Learn to Row courses starting soon. Anyone interested in joining should contact for the North Lakes or for the South Lakes.

Were you born in 1957?

stanley newborn

Number one of 100-to1: Stanley Taylor

A photographer searching for 100 special people is just ONE short of her century.

Glynis Bland is building a portfolio of a hundred portraits of people aged from one to 100 born between 1914 and 2014 for a remarkable exhibition which aims to raise money for three charities. A book of the photos will also be published.

The only missing year now is 1957.

Anyone born then who would like to be part of this historic event should call Glynis on 07919 201711.

Glynis’s resulting massive photo-montage will be the key feature of a day-long exhibition and charity gala festival at the new luxury hotel and wedding venue, The Villa at Levens, on Sunday September 6.

The event will include live music, a magician, stalls run by supporting businesses, an auction of promises, and a competition to spot a “rogue” photo in the display. The money raised will be donated to three charities – MacMillan cancer relief, the Alder Hey children’s hospital, and Bay Search and Rescue.

Glynis said: “I am really thrilled by the response to this project and that so many people are keen to support these charities.

“People don’t need to provide any biographical details apart from their age, but the exhibition and the book will have one sentence from each answering the question: What could you not live without?”

Wordsworth: this is what he REALLY looked like

hiduyeki portrait of ww (2)

A completely new portrait of William Wordsworth is the highlight of a new exhibition at Rydal Mount where the poet lived.

The portrait is one of a series of works by Japanese artist Hideyuki Sobue on the theme of “I wandered”, to mark the 200th anniversary of William Wordsworth’s Daffodils. He based the new portrait on the life mask of Wordsworth, created coincidentally in 1815, the year that Daffodils was published. It forms a diptych – two separate paintings – with a stark picture of a sea of daffodils stretching back to infinity.

Sobue used the mask in the archives of the National Portrait Gallery in London as the basis for the new painting, which shows the poet as he would have looked 200 years ago, at the age of 45.

Based in the Lake District, after graduating from Osaka University of Arts in Japan, Sobue was elected as a member of the Lake Artists Society in 2008. His work has been shown at a number of major exhibitions in London and throughout the UK.

Sobue is a great admirer of Wordsworth and developed his distinctive style in completing this, believed to be the first new portrait of the poet for 150 years.

The new exhibition at Rydal Mount, which takes the Daffodils poem and the opening words “I wandered” as its inspiration, will run for three months. The works are spread throughout the house, among permanent displays, including the bedrooms and study. It was launched at a private viewing where the poet Gary
Boswell read some of his own work written in tribute to Wordsworth.

Award-winning poet, journalist, teacher and writer, Boswell said that after a long break with “writers’ block” he started composing poetry again after visiting Rydal Mount and especially the gardens.

The Wordsworth family hopes that the anniversary will rekindle interest in what they call “this wonderful poem”. Rydal Mount curator Peter Elkington told guests of a visiting Zulu poet who had been taught Daffodils at school, “and it inspired her to become a poet, even though she had never seen a daffodil”.

The poet’s great great great great grandson Christopher Wordsworth said of the appeal of Daffodils: “The poem has deceptively simple language which delivers a profound message.”

Christopher added: “The role played by Wordsworth in the conservation of the Lake District and the promotion of its culture cannot be underestimated. Wordsworth resisted the move towards modernisation in England and created masterpieces based on his profound spiritual sense of the beauty of the Lakes.

“This project takes a contemporary view of the significance of the Lake District and its natural and cultural heritage both to those who live and work in Cumbria and those who visit from around the world.”

  • Rydal Mount is still owned by the Wordsworth family and open to visitors daily.
  • William Wordsworth spent the greater part of his life at Rydal Mount, living there for 37 years until his death in 1850.
  • The house is a treasure trove of Wordsworth memorabilia. The gardens are being restored according to plans made by the poet, who was an accomplished garden designer. Below the house is Dora’s Field , which Wordsworth planted with daffodils in memory of his eldest daughter, who died from tuberculosis in 1847.
  • Wordsworth wrote several earlier versions of Daffodils but the version we know today is the final one published in 1815 from Rydal Mount.