The House and Gardens
Brantwood is one of the most beautifully located historic houses in the Lake District on the steep eastern banks of Coniston Water. With superb views of Coniston Old Man, the Southern Fells and the lake below, it’s easy to see why John Ruskin, one of the most influential Victorians, finally settled here for the remaining 28 years of his life. Once a typical Lakeland cottage, the house itself was expanded by Ruskin, adding 12 rooms and a network of trails through pretty gardens on the hillside.
Most of the expansion was to accommodate the large Severn family who came to live there. The upper floor, otherwise known as the “Eyrie”, was built for the Severn family. Complete with a school room and a studio for Arthur Severn to paint in, no expense spared. For those wishing to immerse themselves in the Brantwood experience with truly world-class views; The Eyrie, The Lodge and The Coach House are all available as self catering accommodation. To find out more click here.
Brantwood grew into the perfect home for Ruskin’s eclectic collections of artwork, minerals, treasures and original Victorian furnishings that Ruskin once used, such as a mahogany desk where he may have sat down to write his Autobiography, Praterita.
Surrounded by 250 acres of land, divided into eight unique gardens, the more energetic folk can climb to the heights of Crag head, gaining an impressive view once at the top, or potter through the native plants, flowers, herbs, or stroll through the lakeside meadow.
Visiting Ruskin’s former home is a great wet or dry weather activity with indoor and outdoor options.
Brantwood continues in the spirit of John Ruskin holding numerous art exhibitions, open air theatric events, concerts and Ruskin related exhibitions in the Blue Gallery in the house. There is also a lovely shop which sells books, gifts, postcards and other trinkets.
Who was Ruskin?
John Ruskin (1819 – 1900) was an influencer of his time, an art critic, poet, author, visionary, and social revolutionary with a passion for art, geology, architecture and natural history. Ruskin had a relatively privileged childhood; born to a successful wine merchant, he was encouraged to pursue his passion for the arts. He was educated in London and Oxford, publishing his first book, The Poetry of Architecture, in 1836 before making his name as an art critic with the book Modern Painters in 1843. Ruskin admired the work of JMW Turner, and this book was a defence of Turner’s work; he recognised Turner as the greatest of all British Painters.
Ruskin soon became Britain’s leading authority in Art and Architecture, producing writings and books on this topic, including The Stones of Venice, which contained the first principles of architectural conservation. In the early 1850’s Ruskin became friendly with a group of young artists, the Pre- Raphelite circle and went on to be a champion for the movement. Inspiring people like Gandhi and Tolstoy with his views on the distinction between labour, craftsmanship and social justice around work conditions.
In 1857 Ruskin produced a book titled The Elements of Drawing, and he began teaching publicly at a Working Mans College. So dedicated to teaching art, he later opened Ruskin’s School of Drawing and Fine Art at Oxford University in 1871. The school is still going to this day and is one of the best art schools in the country. Ruskin was the thinking and inspiration behind the National Trust, the welfare state that we have today, the NHS and the formation of public libraries to name but a few areas that he influenced.
How do I get to Brantwood?
You can get to Brantwood several ways; drive, cycle, or walk the 2.5miles from Coniston following the B5285 or for a different approach, take a lake cruise on the Steam Gondola or the Coniston Launch, which both stop at Brantwood.
Are there any refreshments available?
The former Coach house has been transformed into a coffee house and restaurant called the Terrace. The views are mind-blowing, making the Terrace a special place to stop and relax. First, treat yourself to a traditional tea and scone, or try a delicious freshly made option from the menu. Then, sit back and enjoy the view.
What else can I do at Brantwood?
Dig a little deeper as Brantwood isn’t just what you see in front of you. There are also many exhibitions like the recent Arthur Ransoms Swallows and Amazons Exhibition, collections such as Ruskin’s Minerals, open-air theatre, weddings and several accomodation options if you would like to stay here.
Opening times and Admission
Brantwood is open all year: March-Nov, Everyday 10:30 am-5 pm
Winter times are Dec-March, Wed-Sun 10:30 am – 4 pm
Tickets for the house and garden are £9.50 and Gardens £7
If you would like more information, click here