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Sunday, 21 December 2014

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50031871B019
REBECCA HEATON-COOPER

WORDSWORTH once called Allan Bank a ‘temple of abomination’.

Years later he was forced to eat his words when he moved into the Grasmere country house, because his family had outgrown the tiny Dove Cottage.

Last month the Georgian building opened its doors to the public for the first time in more than 200 years.

The house has undergone an extensive restoration project following a fire in March last year.

There are no pristine rooms decorated as they would have looked in Wordsworth’s day – the building has been left as a blank canvas so its visitors can help decide its future.

Jeremy Barlow, the National Trust’s general manager for the Central and East Lakes, says: “We want people to be able to come in and sit down in a comfy chair and just be inspired.

“The idea is for visitors to come and have a look around, take in the views and then give us some feedback on what they think we should do with the place.

“While we were restoring the building we learnt what a fascinating place it is, and the really exciting thing for us is the fact that we’ve got the opportunity to welcome people to somewhere that the public has never seen in 200 years.”

The house was built while Wordsworth was living in Dove Cottage, across the village. At that time, the new construction was the only building obstructing his view of the picturesque Lake District countryside.

When he finally opted to move to the larger home, he will have found that it offered even greater views of Grasmere lake.

It is this setting that the National Trust hope will inspire people in the future.

Each of the rooms of the house has been given a theme, including art, literature, interior design, and gardening.

The Heaton Cooper family, which has an art gallery in Grasmere, has helped create the art room where visitors will be inspired by sketches of Allan Bank and the Lake District never seen by the public before.

Rebecca Heaton Cooper says: “The family has had a long association with Grasmere, and we wanted to get involved with what is an important project for the village.

“In the art room we are hoping to inspire people to draw and paint, using examples from Alfred and William Heaton Cooper.

“It is very exciting for Allan Bank to finally open to the public, and it can only enhance what Grasmere has to offer.”

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