OS Grid ref:- SD 312958
Brantwood, the Coniston home of the great Victorian poet, artist, critic, amateur geologist and conservationalist John Ruskin, (1819-1920) nestles in the woods on the fells above the eastern shore of beautiful Lake Coniston, lying opposite to Coniston Village. The 'Brant' in the house's name derives from the old Norse word for 'steep'.
John Ruskin had a long love affair with the Lake District, purchasing the house in 1871, when he was aged fifty-three, he moved into Brantwood with his cousin Joan Severn and carried out extensive renovations, adding the turret on the north-west corner. The rooms hold many of Ruskin's own water colours and drawings and some of William Turner's paintings.
He continued to reside at Brantwood until his death in 1900, when he bequeathed it to Joan Severn and her husband. On the death of Mrs Severn in 1924, her husband returned to London and began to sell off many of Brantwood's contents. Many of them were purchased by J.Howard Whitehouse, a wealthy collector.
Although Brantwood is a registered museum, it is still kept very much as a home and affords a unique opportunity to look into the daily life of one of England's most important social and cultural figures. Video presentations and displays provide an insight into Ruskin's work. The house also has visiting exhibitions, Ruskin readings and drawing workshops."
Ruskin bought the house without seeing it for £1,500 and proclaimed it "dilapidated and dismal" on first sight, although he was much taken with the view, "On the whole, the finest view I know in Cumberland or Lancashire".
The highly attractive and unusual gardens were designed and laid out by Ruskin himself in 1871 and have now been completely restored to their original splendour. They contain an excellent collection of azaleas and rhododendrons. Recent projects include the restoration of a spectacular Victorian 'viewing terrace' and the renovation of Ruskin's 'Zig-Zaggy' - which takes the visitor on a journey through Purgatory to Dante's 'Earthly Paradise'. The gardens are roughly divided into three areas, the northern and southern gardens, which involve some uphill walking and the lower gardens which are suitable for all.
The gardens and attractive areas of woodland attached to the house cover thirty acres in all. In late spring the woods are awash with a carpet of colourful bluebells. The estate owned by the property covers pastures, ancient woodland and high moors. A range of trails thread the estate for visitors to explore and a trail guide is available in the shop.
The house has been in the possesion of the Brantwood Trust, founded by Lancaster University, since 1951. The trust hold Regular art exhibitions and educational events at Brantwood throughout the year. Other facilities include a restaraunt and an excellent bookshop.