Wordsworth House in about 1900
William Wordsworth is probably Cockermouth’s most famous son. He was born in 1770 at Wordsworth House, the second son of John and Anne Wordsworth.
His father was an attorney-at-law, and law-agent to Sir James Lowther. William had an older brother called Richard, and after William came Dorothy, John and Christopher.
The children had an idyllic early childhood in Cockermouth where they had free range to explore the natural world around them.
When, having left his Mountains, to the Towers
Of Cockermouth that beauteous River came,
Behind my Father's House he pass'd, close by,
Along the margin of our Terrace Walk.
He was a Playmate whom we dearly lov'd.
Oh! many a time have I, a five years' Child,
A naked Boy, in one delightful Rill,
A little Mill-race sever'd from his stream,
Made one long bathing of a summer's day,
Bask'd in the sun, and plunged, and bask'd again
Alternate all a summer's day, or cours'd
Over the sandy fields, leaping through groves
Of yellow grunsel, or when crag and hill,
The woods, and distant Skiddaw's lofty height,
Were bronz'd with a deep radiance, stood alone
Beneath the sky, as if I had been born
On Indian Plains, and from my Mother's hut
Had run abroad in wantonness, to sport,
A naked Savage, in the thunder shower …
The Prelude: Book 1, l.16-34