Thursday, 26 May 2011
This is the view through a window at Brantwood on Coniston, the former home of the eminent Victorian, John Ruskin (1819-1900). A very talented man, he was an artist, writer, philosopher, critic, social reformer, conservationist - a hugely inspirational thinker. (His writings had a profound influence on many, including Mahatma Gandhi.) He lived at Brantwood from 1872 until his death in 1900. Described as a powerhouse of ideas, this is where he did most of his writing and entertaining in his later years and from where his ideas spread to influence art, economics and social thinking in England and internationally. (Think what he'd have done with the internet!)
It is in many ways a modest house, though attractive and interesting, full of treasures and lovely watercolours by Ruskin himself, JMW Turner and others. It sits on the hillside above Coniston Water, giving amazing views across the lake and mountains. The gardens are a delight. Ruskin himself oversaw their development, using his land to explore a variety of gardening experiments and engineering projects (including a small harbour on the lakeside) . When I visited, the whole place was alive with vibrantly coloured azaleas and the woods full of bluebells. I wandered around the gardens in a blissed-out state for over two hours! If you ever visit the Lakes, then Brantwood is well worth seeing.