Grasmere 2, Cumbria - June 2009.jpg
Grasmere is located in Cumbria
Grasmere shown within Cumbria
OS grid reference NY335074
Civil parish
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district LA22
Dialling code 015394
Police Cumbria
Fire Cumbria
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK Parliament
List of places
54°27′29″N 3°01′29″W / 54.45809°N 3.024588°W / 54.45809; -3.024588Coordinates: 54°27′29″N 3°01′29″W / 54.45809°N 3.024588°W / 54.45809; -3.024588

Grasmere village and lake as seen from the fell of Stone Arthur

Grasmere is a village and tourist destination in the centre of the English Lake District. It takes its name from the adjacent lake, and has associations with the Lake Poets. The poet William Wordsworth, who lived in Grasmere for 14 years, described it as "the loveliest spot that man hath ever found."[1]

Before 1974, Grasmere lay within the former county of Westmorland. Today it is part of the county of Cumbria.


"'The lake flanked by grass'; 'gres', 'mere'. Early spellings in 'Grys-', 'Gris(s)-' might suggest ON 'griss' 'young pig' as 1st el.[ement], but the weight of the evidence points to OE/ON 'gres' 'grass', with the modern form influenced by Standard English....The medial '-s(s)e-' may, as suggested by Ekwall in DEPN,[2] point to ON 'gres-saer' 'grass-lake' as the original name...".[3] Plus the element "'mere' OE, ModE 'lake, 'pool'."[4] (OE refers to Old English, ON to Old Norse.)


The village is on the river Rothay which flows into Grasmere (the body of water), which lies about 0.5 km to the south. The village is overlooked from the north-west by the rocky hill of Helm Crag, popularly known as The Lion and the Lamb or the Old Lady at the Piano. These names are derived from the shape of rock formations on its summit, depending on the side from which you view it.[5]

A number of frequented walks begin in the village, including the ascent of Helm Crag, a longer route up to Fairfield and a moderate 200-metre ascent to Easedale Tarn. The village is also on the route of Alfred Wainwright's Coast to Coast Walk.[6]

Grasmere Village

The A591 connects Grasmere to the Vale of Keswick over Dunmail Raise to the north, and Ambleside to the south. In other directions, Grasmere is surrounded by high ground. (At Christmas 2015, the A591 was washed away on the Keswick side of Dunmail Raise, resulting in a long detour. It was reopened in May 2016.) To the west, a long ridge comes down from High Raise and contains the lesser heights of Blea Rigg and Silver How. To the east, Grasmere is bordered by the western ridge of the Fairfield horseshoe.


Grasmere is served by the Stagecoach 555 bus service connecting towns in and near the Lake District, such as Keswick and Lancaster.[7] In summer it is also served by an open top double-decker 599 service, operated by Stagecoach, which runs between Grasmere and Bowness-on-Windermere.

Communal events[edit]


Grasmere's famous Rushbearing Ceremony, centred on St Oswald's Church, has ancient origins. The present-day ceremony is an annual event which features a procession through the village with bearings made from rushes and flowers. In this procession there are also six Maids of Honour, a brass band, the church choir, and anyone who wishes to join in by carrying their own decorated rushbearing.

St Oswald's Church, decorated for the Rushbearing Day

Grasmere Sports[edit]

The annual Grasmere Sports take place in August and were first held in 1852. This is the main event in the village's calendar and one of the most popular traditional events in the Lake District. Participants compete in a variety of sports, including Cumberland Wrestling, fell running and hound trails (similar to drag hunting).[citation needed]

Grasmere Chocolate Cottage[edit]

Grasmere is now home to the winner of the 'Get Started Award 2014' awarded by the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs, the Handmade Chocolate Shop.[8]

Grasmere gingerbread[edit]

Today's Grasmere Gingerbread is made to a "secret recipe" popularised by Sarah Nelson (1815–1904).[9][10] By the early nineteenth century, Grasmere gingerbread was already being sold as fairings, as well as being a popular seller in its own right.[11] Poet Dorothy Wordsworth wrote in 1803 that she and her brother William craved for the gingerbread.[11]


Until September 2013, Grasmere's three main church parishes (Catholic, Church of England and Methodist) gathered three times a year to celebrate mass in the Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Wayside.


The former civil parish was for a time governed by an urban district council before becoming part of the Lakes UDC in 1934. The village is now part of Lakes Parish. Grasmere is currently represented by Liberal Democrat politicians on both the district council and county council, as well as at Westminster.[12] Grasmere has experienced population decline since the 1960s.[13]

Notable persons[edit]

Grasmere seen from Heron Pike

In birth order:

  • William Wordsworth (1770–1850), poet, lived in Dove Cottage with his sister Dorothy Wordsworth (1771–1855), in the hamlet of Townend, on the outskirts of Grasmere, from 1799. He occasionally breakfasted with Sir Walter Scott at The Swan, a 17th-century coaching inn on the A591 road, whose sign still quotes a line from him: "Who does not know the famous Swan?" In 1808 he moved to the larger Allan Bank, where he remained until 1811, moving to Rydal Mount in 1813. He is buried in the churchyard of St Oswald's, Grasmere, alongside his wife, Mary, their family, and his sister Dorothy. Writer Thomas de Quincey (1785–1859) rented Dove Cottage after the Wordsworths left. [14] A friend, the writer Lady Maria Farquhar, lived at Dale Lodge.
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834), poet, spent time at Dove Cottage and is said to have muttered stanzas for The Rime of the Ancient Mariner while walking across the nearby fells.[15]
  • Paul Frederick de Quincey (1828–1894), New Zealand politician, was born at Grasmere.
  • William Angus Knight (1836–1916), Scottish academic, compiled an 11-volume Wordsworth's Works and Life (1881–89) and presented his library of Wordsworth materials to Dove Cottage.
  • William Archibald Spooner (1844–1930), Oxford University academic and instigator of spoonerisms, was buried here, near the house of his wife's family, How Foot.
  • John Haden Badley (1865–1967), progressive educationalist and founder of Bedales School, spent time with his sisters the Misses Badley, at their Grasmere home Winterseeds.
  • Charles Morris (1898–1990), philosopher and Leeds University vice-chancellor, died at Grasmere.
  • The husband-and-wife artists William Heaton Cooper (1903–1995), landscape painter, and Ophelia Gordon Bell (1915–1975), sculptor, lived and are buried at Grasmere.
  • Fred Yates (1922–2008), painter, was living at Cote How near Grasmere (1900–06) when he painted the future United States president Woodrow Wilson and John Haden Badley.
  • Robert Woof (1931–2005), academic, was the first keeper of the collections of the William Wordsworth Museum at Dove Cottage.
  • Bob Barratt (1938 or 1939–2004) was the founder of the Grasmere Records label for brass band and organ music.


  1. A Farewell. Retrieved 2 December 2013
  2. Ekwall, Eilert (1960). The concise Oxford dictionary of English place-names (4th ed.). Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. l, 546. 
  3. Whaley, Diana (2006). A dictionary of Lake District place-names. Nottingham: English Place-Name Society. pp. lx,423 p.136. ISBN 0904889726. 
  4. Whaley, 2006, p. 411.
  5. Retrieved on 7 February 2008
  6. Wainwright: Coast to Coast Archived 13 December 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. The IOEE brings together the enterprise sector for House of Lords celebration. Retrieved on 25 October 2014
  9. Grasmere Gingerbread Co: History. Retrieved on 27 August 2012
  10. Davies, Caroline. The Guardian:Wordsworth's village bakers fight over their gingerbread. Retrieved on 27 August 2012
  11. 11.0 11.1 Broomfield, Andrea (2007). Food and cooking in Victorian England : a history (1st ed.). Westport: Praeger Publishers. pp. 161–163. ISBN 0-275-98708-6. 
  12. Tim Farron MP
  13. Retrieved on 7 February 2008 Archived 17 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. Visit Cumbria: St Oswald's church
  15. Retrieved on 6 February 2008 Archived 28 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]

This is a file from Wikimedia Commons Information from its Category:Grasmere is shown below.
Commons is a freely licensed media file repository to which anyone can contribute.

Template:Template for discussion/datedLua error in Module:Authority_control at line 370: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).