VISITORS to Coniston may be familiar with the priceless cultural attractions of the Ruskin Museum and Brantwood. But many who have passed the Celtic Cross in St Andrew's churchyard might not realise its relevance: the large carved cross, made from local green slate from Tilberthwaite quarry marks the final resting place of distinguished Victorian visionary, writer, thinker and artist, John Ruskin. Ruskin spent the last 28 years of his life at Coniston, drawn there by his love of the Lake District, its landscape and community. He lived on the east side of the lake in his beautiful Brantwood home and was always greatly involved in village life. Apparently, in 1889, when arriving, by train, from a trip away he said: “I’ve returned earlier than I anticipated, but I wanted to be at home again. There’s no place like Coniston.” Although born in London, John Ruskin chose to be buried in his beloved Coniston. To mark the occasion of the great man’s 200th birthday tomorrow (Friday, February 8), the communities of Coniston and venues Ruskin Museum, Brantwood, John Ruskin School, Coniston C of E Primary School, St Andrew’s Church and Coniston Institute, will join together to celebrate the bicentenary of his birth with a day of activities in the heart of the village. At 2pm all are invited to a service at St Andrew’s Church led by the Rev Brian Streeter. There will musical performances by pupils from both schools and Coniston Community Choir. After the service an arrangement of flowers and greenery from Ruskin’s garden, prepared by Brantwood volunteer Maureen Hadwin, who has for many years looked after the cut flower arrangements in the house, will be laid on Ruskin’s Grave by a primary school pupil.

Everyone is then invited to the Coniston Village Institute Reading Room for a tea party. Both Brantwood and the Ruskin Museum are hosting exhibitions throughout the year, relating to, or influenced by John Ruskin.