Saved from the wrecking ball

Still standing: Wordsworth House narrowly escaped demolition in 1937 © The National Trust

Still standing: Wordsworth House narrowly escaped demolition in 1937

It is a minor miracle that the impressive townhouse we now know as Wordsworth House is still standing.

Built in 1690 by a man called William Bird, for the first 40 years of the 18th century it was home to the agents of various wealthy landowners.

It received a Georgian makeover, in the form of sash windows, a classical porch, fashionable new panelling and internal doors, in 1745 courtesy of Sheriff of Cumberland Joshua Lucock, who bought the house – and a pew in the local church – for £350.

By 1766, when William Wordsworth’s father John moved in, it belonged to Sir James Lowther, his employer, who allowed the family to live there rent free.

After John’s death in 1783, the children were evicted and sent to live with relatives.

The house remained in the Lowther family’s ownership for many years. In 1885, it was sold to local auctioneer Robinson Mitchell.

From 1907 to 1937, it was home to three successive doctors and their families, and there are still people in the town who remember going to the house for treatment.

In 1937, Dr Edward Ellis agreed to sell it to Cumberland Motor Services, who planned to demolish the house, stables and other outbuildings so they could build a bus garage.

Fortunately, local people were outraged and began raising money to save it. They bought the house for £1,625 and, in 1938, presented it to the National Trust.

Their generosity ensured Wordsworth House and its lovely garden, where William and his siblings played, would be protected for the enjoyment of future generations of locals and visitors.