Lottery Players Back Dorothy Wordsworth Celebrations

Cockermouth charity Kirkgate Arts and Heritage has won a major grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to support a year-long celebration of Dorothy Wordsworth, the town’s most famous daughter.

Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the £67,100 grant for Kirkgate’s ‘I Am Dorothy’ project will fund a range of community activities including a special art work featuring a portrait of Dorothy during Cockermouth’s popular town centre Christmas lights.

Dorothy Wordsworth was born on Christmas Day 250 years ago at Wordsworth House on Main Street. She was acknowledged by her brother, poet William Wordsworth, as one of his most important collaborators and was herself a poet, diarist, and, in her close observations and love of nature, an early environmentalist.

‘We are delighted to have this support from National Lottery players,’ said Marion Bowman, chair of Kirkgate’s trustees. ‘It will mean that on this special anniversary, the town’s most eminent daughter will become better known locally and nationally. We are sure the project will enhance the pride we all feel in our local heritage.

‘We’re encouraging everyone to follow her example and “be more Dorothy”, by engaging more with nature both physically and creatively. We’ll be running a series of workshops at the Kirkgate Centre for children and adults to give people a go at creative writing, painting their own portraits of Dorothy, and handcrafting wildflowers such as Dorothy and her brother William’s famous daffodils which are such a feature of Springtime in Cockermouth.’

Kirkgate Heritage Group’s exhibition on the Cockermouth of Dorothy’s childhood will run 7 – 21 August at the Kirkgate before touring a number of village halls over the autumn and winter. Kirkgate Youth Theatre will present performances at Christmas in the Kirkgate Theatre developing on their recent Cockermouth Live! street theatre scenes, ‘Discovering Dorothy’.

The project’s ‘Make The Journey’ challenge – to travel in as low carbon a way as possible from Dorothy’s birthplace on Main Street to where she died 30 miles away at Rydal Mount near Ambleside in the heart of the Lake District was launched earlier this month. A specially commissioned film is available on Kirkgate’s You Tube channel Make the Journey – YouTube.

People making the journey are encouraged to post poems, descriptions and art they are inspired by Dorothy to create on social media using #IAmDorothy and #Dorothy250.

The project is supported by the National Trust at Wordsworth House, Wordsworth Grasmere, and Rydal Mount, Dorothy and William’s final home which is owned by members of the Wordsworth family. Downloadable maps of cycling and walking trails are available on the National Trust’s website: and
Everyone arriving at Rydal Mount having Made The Journey will be eligible for a free drink in the café with a special password. Contact to find out more.
In addition to the funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, other smaller grants have been awarded by Allerdale Borough Council, Cockermouth Town Council, Metalcraft Ltd., Ashley Family Foundation and the Slater Trust.

‘As we open up again after the lockdowns, we’re hugely grateful to all our supporters,’ said Marion. ‘Kirkgate is very much rooted in the local community with many volunteers making things happen alongside our hard-working small staff team. To be able to run such an exciting project feels like a great way to celebrate the unique character of our town and especially to promote a woman who is such an important part of our heritage. Perhaps even more significant, her values of collaboration, creativity and the natural world still resonate so much in the 21st century.’