Dorothy Gate

Grid Reference NY 399 198

Dorothy Gate

The Dorothy Gate, standing on the grassy area in front of Aira force café, celebrates the writing of Dorothy Wordsworth and her influence on the poetry of her brother, William Wordsworth. The ash polls are carved with words from Dorothy Wordsworth’s journal describing the beautiful daffodils she saw as she walked along the shores of Ullswater not far from this spot.

Dorothy Wordsworth (1771-1855) was the sister of poet William Wordsworth, living with him most of her adult life. She was of central importance to William’s creative and domestic lives, sharing experiences and conversations with him that she recorded in surviving journals. These shared moments often made their way into William’s poems, perhaps with his sisters private journal acting as a source of his memories.

The journals vividly record their daily life at Dove cottage, Grasmere, and their travels further afield, including tours through Europe. They are rich in detailed observation of family life, of time spent with friends, of walking near and far, and of her living with one of England’s greatest poets.

Dorothy Wordsworth silhouette 

© The Wordsworth Trust, Dove Cottage, Cumbria

In her Grasmere journal written in April 1802, Dorothy describes walking with William by the side of Ullswater as they travelled home to Grasmere from a visit to the Clarksons of Eusemere (in Pooley Bridge). On this walk she wrote what has become her most famous journal entry: “I never saw daffodils so beautiful they grew among the mossy stones about and about them, some rested their heads upon these stones as on a pillow for weariness and the rest tossed and reeled and danced and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind that blew upon them over the lake…”. The place she wrote about is just after Gowbarrow - near Aira force. 

Two years later William wrote one of his best known short poems, often referred to as 'The Daffodils'. It has the lines   'I saw a crowd a host of golden daffodils, beside the lake, beneath the trees fluttering and dancing in the breeze... Ten thousand saw I at a glance tossing their heads in sprightly dance.'

by Judith Cooke, with help from Wordsworth Trust staff and trustees

Extract from Dorothy Wordsworth's Diary

©The Wordsworth Trust, Dove Cottage, Cumbria

Creating the Dorothy Gate

Colin Bell and Stephen Gorton of Hartsop gave invaluable advice about how gates would have looked in the Wordsworths' day, The old gate posts were generously donated by the Lightburn family. The ash poles were carved by James Mitchell, a traditional wood worker from South Lakes. 

Inauguration of the Dorothy Gate 

The Dorothy Gate was inaugurated on 28th APril 2017 at a ceremony hosted by the National Trust. As part of the ceremony, MIchael McGregor, DIrector of the Wordsworth Trust, read some extracts from Dorothy Wordsworth's diary.

Thanks to our funders and supporters

The Lightburn Family

The National Trust

The Wordsworth Trust

Ullswater Steamers

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