Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley and Wray

Today's weather was so glorious that we decided to have a trip up the Lakes for a walk. Our intended destination was Elterwater, but we abandoned this plan as it was far too busy. Evidently everyone was out, walking off their Christmas excesses!

Instead we drove over to Wray Castle and had a peaceful walk through the grounds, enjoying the fantastic views of Windermere and the Langdales. We walked down to St Margaret's Church, built in 1856 in the grounds of Wray Castle and where Hardwicke Rawnsley was vicar, from 1877 to 1883. 

The Church is sadly no longer in use and feels very neglected. However, it is thrilling to think that this was where Rawnsley started his career in the Church of England and where, during holidays in the Lake District, the young Beatrix Potter met Rawnsley and began a friendship, which had huge consequences for the countryside and our national identity.

Hardwicke Rawnsley was a prolific writer of sonnets. In his lifetime he wrote over 30,000 sonnets, many of them about life in the Lakes, the natural world and people who influenced him. One of his sonnets celebrates Wray Castle:

Who planned thy strength of towers was out of date;
No leaguer now can storm thee but the wind,
Nor fiercer foe unbidden entrance find
Than April Shower beneath a crazy slate:
And there thous sittest in thy solemn state,
Waiting for Time about they brows to bind
The grace that immemorial days, and kind
Long years forgetful of thy birth, create.
Uplifted pale above thy circling groves,
Or moving with the traveller as he moves
In rushing boat or by the further shore,
Thou canst still wake the gift that comes from Heaven
Sweet Fancy, and from Brathay to the Leven
Breathe o'er the lake a quaint romantic lore.

We had a beautiful and invigorating walk and ended up in Joey's Cafe at Wray Castle, for hot soup and coffee.