This semi-open woodland, renowned for fine displays of bluebells and daffodils, was once owned by William Wordsworth. On the surface it would appear that he acquired the land to build a house on, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find an ulterior motive.
Dora's Field which was originally known as The Rashfield because of the damp nature of the ground which would have originally supported mainly rushes.
This little plot of land was purchased from the Backhouse family by William Wordsworth in 1826 as a defence strategy. The Wordsworths were tenants of Lady Anne le Flemming at Rydal Mount, just behind Dora's Field, but in 1825 Lady Flemming announced her intention of giving the tenancy of Rydal Mount to a relative.
Under threat of eviction, and desperate not to be forced away from the idyllic Rydal, Wordsworth bought the field and made it clear to Lady le Fleming his intention of building on the field in whatever way he wished (this would have been right in the view from Rydal Mount). George Webster, a famous Kendal architect, was even paid to draw up a design.
In memory of a loving daughter
In the end this contingency plan was not needed as the threat was withdrawn. The Wordsworth family retained the field and it was given to Dora, Williams daughter. When Dora tragically died Wordsworth, his wife and their gardener planted hundreds of daffodil bulbs in her memory.
Dora’s Field was gifted to the National Trust by Gordon Wordsworth in 1935 for the benefit of the public. We now maintain the paths and prevent the open areas from returning to dense woodland and losing the open views.
A relaxing wander around Dora’s Field is a lovely way to lose half an hour on a warm spring day in Rydal. There are several benches around the garden to allow time for a moment’s pause amid the hectic rush of modern life.
Dora’s Field is approximately1½m north of Ambleside. Follow the A591 from Ambleside to Rydal. Dora’s Field is next to St Mary’s Church.