On a hillside overlooking Windermere is a spectacular house. That in itself is not surprising, as in the 19th and early 20th Centuries wealthy business owners from the north west of England flocked to the Lake District and built comfortable homes for their families – retreats from the noise, soot and pollution of the industrial cities. But Blackwell, the house we’re exploring today, is quite remarkable – within its Grade I listed walls is an exceptionally-preserved Arts and Crafts interior.
Last summer, I visited a part of my native Lancashire that I’d never been to before – the Lune Valley. It’s a beautiful part of the world which probably gets overlooked due to its proximity to the famous, dramatic landscapes of the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. The valley is probably most famous for Ruskin’s View, the stunning vista – immortalised by John Constable – that can be observed from Kirkby Lonsdale (just across the county border in Cumbria). But the Lune Valley also has a fascinating, half-forgotten history, and is home to some wonderful old churches.
Having a tendency to explore old graveyards and spend time reading the gravestones may seem morbid to some, but over time I’ve come across many amazing and unusual stories that – but for the survival of a tombstone – would otherwise have faded from history. I have often visited the Lake District with my family and, as it’s only an hour’s drive away from the family home in Lancashire, Bowness-on-Windermere has always been a favourite destination of ours. It was on one of these visits that, rather than walking past the church of St Martin on our way down to the waterside, I suggested we stop and look around the churchyard.