Wordsworth Country comes to the capital03 August 2016
Euston Station welcomed ‘a host of golden daffodils’ earlier today, as part of a new campaign to encourage the public to see the Lake District as ‘Wordsworth Country’ once again.
The Wordsworth Trust wants to get ‘Wordsworth Country’ back in the popular imagination, and raise awareness of the many sites of natural beauty that helped inspire the writer whose works have helped to draw visitors to the region which he described as “the loveliest spot that man hath ever found”.
As part of the campaign, organised by The Wordsworth Trust and in partnership with Virgin Trains, Euston Station – the gateway to the Lake District from the capital – was transformed into an homage to the Victorian poet, with a giant 3m daffodil garden for travellers to enjoy and a signpost highlighting the way to ‘Wordsworth Country’. Commuters were invited to take a ‘seat and a selfie’ amongst the blooms synonymous with the Romantic poet.
Surprised commuters and holiday-makers were also treated to an impromptu performance of William Wordsworth’s famous poem ‘Daffodils’, led by comedian and Grumpy Old Man star Arthur Smith. More than a hundred children and their parents from Stagecoach Talent Agency UK part of Stagecoach Performing Arts Schools, hailing from all over the country and ranging in age from 10 to 16, joined Smith to recite the words of Wordsworth’s legendary poem, which is one of the most oft-quoted verses in the world and is synonymous with the Lake District.
So inextricably linked are the poet and the Lake District that the area was referred to as Wordsworth Country as early as the 1820s in tourist guides and on maps. This was in no small part due to the huge number of tourists who flocked to Westmorland and Cumberland (now Cumbria) to see the places that inspired Wordsworth and even try to catch a glimpse of the man himself. The term Wordsworth Country continued to appear even on road signs and train posters until the 1970s before falling out of general use.
The aim of the Wordsworth Trust’s campaign is to emphasise the area’s strong cultural heritage and engage with people who have never before visited the Lake District, as well as return visitors, encouraging them to visit this summer. The drive to encourage tourism to Wordsworth Country will provide much needed support for the regional economy in the wake of Storm Desmond and the floods that ravaged the region at the end of 2015.
Classic poems with a modern twist
As part of its drive to attract visitors interested in the area’s literary history, the Wordsworth Trust has developed an app that provides users with an interactive guide to Wordsworth’s Lake District as revealed in the writings of the famous poet himself.
The app will enable visitors to the Lakes to follow in Wordsworth’s footsteps via an interactive map that unveils a total of 42 locations across the region featuring in his poems. The app will provide users with immediate access to the words inspired by the locations they visit and will lead them to lesser known spots loved by Wordsworth and his family, including The Pillar Rock, Dungeon Ghyll and Stickle Tarn.
The app also brings together Wordsworth’s words with original landscape illustrations and descriptions from a Victorian guidebook to the Lake District; William Knight’s ‘Through the Wordsworth Country’. Designed to be accessible on smartphones and tablets, it is hoped the app will appeal to Wordsworth and Lake District enthusiasts alike and will heighten awareness of the poet’s work amongst younger generations who may be less familiar with it.
The app launch coincides with the 125th anniversary of Wordsworth’s home, Dove Cottage being opened to the public and the run-up to Wordsworth’s 250th birthday in 2020. The Lake District National Park Partnership has also launched a bid for the area to be granted World Heritage Status in 2017, meaning it would be ranked among other sites of natural and man-made beauty around the world, such as the Taj Mahal, Hadrian's Wall and the Great Barrier Reef. Almost 4,500 people have already backed the bid to support the area, which Wordsworth famously described as "a sort of national property in which every man has a right and interest who has an eye to perceive and a heart to enjoy."
Paul Kleian from The Wordsworth Trust says, “Celebrating the words of the poet and the places he immortalised is particularly pertinent as we approach his 250th birthday. Our app will allow people to follow in the footsteps of Victorian tourists, using original guide books, maps, poems and paintings to guide them to places that inspired the poet. By promoting ‘Wordsworth Country’ in the same manner as ‘Shakespeare Country’, ‘Hardy Country’ and ‘Bronte Country’, we hope that people will think of the region as a cultural place as well as one for outdoor activities and that future generations visiting the Lake District will understand Wordsworth’s enormous influence on the region.”
“When people think of the Lake District they, no doubt, picture green hillsides, beautiful tranquil lakes, quaint villages, daffodils and wandering clouds – we want to make sure they also remember the poet made the Lake District famous all around the world.”
Comedian Arthur Smith added, “I went on school trips to the Lake District when I was a boy and learned to love the dramatic landscapes we walked over: subsequently I came to enjoy the lyrical landscapes of the Romantic poets, especially Wordsworth and Coleridge. I have been back walking there many times since and hope to again soon.”
Tarquin Shaw-Young, from Stagecoach Talent Agency UK part of Stagecoach Performing Arts Schools, said: "We were so impressed with our students today who were so enthusiastic to perform on a different type of stage such as Euston station. The students showed off their skills whilst having a high level of professionalism. Stagecoach are so pleased to be here supporting the 'Love Wordsworth Country' campaign as we have a lot of students from all over the country, so it is a fantastic to celebrate the beautiful areas in the UK and to promote such a wonderful place. It's a wonderful cause close to a lot hearts from students and parents alike".
Virgin Trains are giving their backing to the campaign. Michelle Ragozzino, Virgin Trains Station Manager at Oxenholme, said: “We’re proud to serve the Lake District and are excited to be backing the campaign to put Wordsworth Country on the map. We’re keen to continue to show our support for the region and help bring visitors to Wordsworth Country by celebrating its beauty and highlighting all it has to offer. With Oxenholme – the gateway to the Lake District – only being less than a three hour train journey from London, we hope that many people will get on board to Love Wordsworth Country this summer.”
The Wordsworth Trust is inviting people to ‘Love Wordsworth Country’ and share their memories and passion for the Lake District via its dedicated webpage: www.lovewordsworthcountry.com.
The Wordsworth Country app is also accessible via the website.
The ‘Love Wordsworth Country’ initiative is being supported by a host of Lake District businesses and organisations including Cumbria Tourism, Lake District National Park and Lakes Culture.