We have just returned from a relaxing weekend at Lancrigg Hotel & Kitchen in Grasmere, Cumbria. The hotel is situated in an idyllic place with beautiful views of the mountainous area. We had no idea of the secrets this place holds. In the lounge where you can sit and relax with a glass of wine or read in the quiet surroundings there is a laminated print out telling the fascinating story of the house and the unbelievable amount of famous historical names that has passed through it. The artist William Heaton Cooper described Lancrigg as ‘a perfect example of a gracious country house in precisely the right place’.
The name ‘Lancrigg’ is a Norse word that means ‘Long Crag’ and built in the 1600’s used to be a small farmhouse, now a country hotel boosting a history littered with famous names many of whom are considered national treasures and all have a connection to or have passed through the property.
The interest begins in 1840 when a wealthy lady named Elizabeth Fletcher, who was the wife of a well known Edinburgh attorney, asked her friend William Wordsworth if he knew of a place she could purchase for her ‘Summer refreshment’. He found Lancrigg which suited perfectly and he assisted in the purchasing, extending and refurbishing the house taking care to maintain its character. In particular the round chimney pots which add to the architectural design.
Elizabeth Fletcher, a very well connected woman, was active in current affairs of the time and passionate about social issues of the day such as; prison reform, education, womens rights and the emancipation of slaves. With her political interests leaning towards the Left, she was a fan of Revolutions and became a benefactor for her friend Giuseppe Mazzini who was a famous Italian politician, journalist and activist playing a huge part (larger than Giuseppe Garibaldi) in the unification of Italy. By organising riots and revolts and creating new political movements such as La giovine Italia (“Young Italy”). Some say he spearheaded the Italian revolutionary movement helping bring to fruition the creation of an independent and unified Italy. Unsurprisingly, Mazzini was ahead of his time and was an early advocate of a ‘United States of Europe’ many years before the European Union even began to form. He felt that European unification was ‘a logical continuation of Italian unification’. Elizabeth also gave her support to other revolutions; namely Byron’s Greek revolt, both the American & French Revolutions, even the Hungarian uprising. She was one feisty lady. As well as being a friend of Wordsworth, Elizabeth’s other famous poet friends include; Sir Walter Scott the Scottish historical novelist, playwright and poet. Also Alfred Tennyson, who was a Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland during much of Queen Victoria’s reign and remains one of the most popular British poets and Robert Southey an English poet of the Romantic school, one of the so-named ‘Lake Poets’, and Poet Laureate for 30 years. Amazing to think of these famous literati visiting Lancrigg and taking inspiration from the often breathtaking surroundings.
The famous visitors don’t end there. Elizabeth’s son Angus Fletcher was a good friend of Charles Dickens and he would often stay with them along with William ‘Wilkie’ Collins the English novelist, playwright, and short story writer.
After Elizabeth’s death in the 1860’s her daughter, Mary moved into the house with her husband Sir John Richardson, a surgeon. Sir John had grown up with the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns who was also a frequent visitor to the house adding to the long list of poet connections. In 1819 John Richardson joined Sir John Franklin (a British Royal Navy officer and Arctic explorer) on the 1st of 2 expeditions to the Arctic to discover the North West Passage. After a traumatic trip both returned to England as National Heros. Sir John Franklin stayed at Lancrigg before his final trip to the Arctic from which he never returned. 5 years John later led a trip in an attempt to discover the outcome Franklin’s fate but frustratingly was unable to.
John was also the best friend of the English biologist Charles Robert Darwin, a naturalist and geologist best known for his contributions to the science of evolution. Darwin brought samples of plants and trees from all over the world, many of which he & John planted in the woods, grounds and gardens of Lancrigg.
Later John became Cheif Medical Officer of Naval Hospitals and as a result became close friends with no less than Florence Nightingale herself.
In 1972 Lancrigg became a nursing home. What a fabulous and exquisite place to spend your later years in absolute peace and tranquillity. Learning about the amazing history this house has to tell.
Lancrigg has been a 10 bedroom hotel since 1985. A very popular base for walkers as there are many mapped out routes for varying levels all around, then you can return to the homely comfort of the hotel with the fire lit you can sit soaking up the views. We were unfortunately unable to do any walking as the weather was particularly characteristic of the region so we just had to partake in trying the alcoholic beverages whilst watching the rain batter the stoic old windows. It is very dog friendly and currently serves vegetarian and vegan cuisine exclusively, although I’m not sure how long that will continue as they are thinking of introducing some meat/fish dishes. The bar is stocked with some organic beers, ales and wines. To the delight of my husband they served some of his favourite ales. All the staff go out of their way to make your stay feel special. Including 5 star service for the dogs! The food was sublime, I just wish our stay could have been longer. Lancrigg is a very welcoming place, even in the rain.
Their website is here;
We had the 8 course tasting menu;-
Slow Cooked Egg, Jerusalem Artichoke, Pea, January King
Roasted Crapaudine Beetroots, Blood Orange, Pomegranate, Red Endive.
Roasted Cauliflower, Caper, Mint, Picked Grapes, Spiced Giant Couscous
King Oyster, Celeriac, Cavolo Nero, Dark Speckled Lentils
New Season Yorkshire Rhubarb, Buttermilk and Nasturtium
Lavender Honey Panna cotta, Picked Blueberry, Honeycomb
Coffee & Petit Fours sup
£49.95 per person but must be taken by the whole table.
Here are some of our photos;-
#vegetarian #vegan #hotel #relaxingweekend