Museums at Night: Dove Cottage becomes the Cherry Tree Inn

Model of Nelson’s ship, H.M.S Vanguard, photo credit Westbourne model shop Dove Cottage, Grasmere, Cumbria Museums at Night: Sailors' Tales with the Wordsworth Trust at Dove Cottage, Grasmere

For one night only, on Friday 15 May, join the Wordsworth Trust at 7.30pm for a night of beer, food, music & poetry as Dove Cottage becomes the Cherry Tree Inn. . . back in the 1800s!

A welcome greeting he can hear;–
It is a fiddle in its glee
Dinning from the CHERRY TREE!

Although they lived in the heart of the Lake District, the presence of the sea and sailors is often found in the writing of William and Dorothy Wordsworth. Their home at Dove Cottage was on the main highway through the Lakes to the major port of Whitehaven, and they encountered many sailors and soldiers returning from voyages overseas. Being the main road, the Wordsworths saw the regular wagons, the main bearers of goods traffic, regularly passing their house.

Benjamin was a fictional character of Wordsworth’s who for many years drove such a wagon. However, he was also fond of calling in at the inns that he passed along the way. On one such journey, he picked up a travelling family, and was persuaded to call in at the Cherry Tree Inn at Wythburn, on what happened to be their ‘Merry Night’ or night of celebration.

The man they picked up was a sailor who had served with Lord Nelson on his flagship, HMS Vanguard. The sailor pulled along a replica of this ship wherever he went, and took great delight in recounting his experiences. This he did in the Cherry Tree, and the evening became more boisterous as more drink was consumed. Sadly, Benjamin was unable to resist and lost his job as a consequence. It must have been some party:

What tankards foaming from the tap!
What store of cakes in every lap!
What thumping–stumping–overhead!
The thunder had not been more busy:
With such a stir you would have said,
This little place may well be dizzy
‘Tis who can dance with greatest vigour–
‘Tis what can be most prompt and eager;
As if it heard the fiddle’s call,
The pewter clatters on the wall;
The very bacon shows its feeling,
Swinging from the smoky ceiling!

In amongst all this, the sailor uses his model ship to tell his tale, beginning with Nelson and the Battle of the Nile:

Tis there, the quarter-deck
On which brave Admiral Nelson stood–
A sight that would have roused your blood!
One eye he had, which, bright as ten,
Burned like a fire among his men;
Let this be land, and that be sea,
Here lay the French–and ‘thus’ came we!”

Whilst the Wordsworth Trust event may not be so rowdy as the revellers that evening – the pewter may not clatter, nor the bacon swing – yet we shall make merry as part of Museums at Night 2015, with beer and refreshments! Making music and song and enjoying the reading of Wordsworth’s rousing poem, one he greatly enjoyed reading aloud himself, Benjamin the Waggoner. We shall have fiddle music as they would have enjoyed in the Cherry Tree Inn about 200 years ago, and look at other poems connected to the sea. We plan to have a ‘Merry Night’ ourselves!

Museums at Night: Sailors’ Tales at Dove Cottage – Friday 15 May at 7.30pm

You can book a place or find out more here

To enjoy this Lakes Culture event and much more, book your break in the Lake District here