Dear Diary: School children follow Dorothy’s journey

A class of excited school children have followed Dorothy Wordsworth’s life’s journey from Cockermouth to Dove Cottage, Grasmere.

On a special trip last week organised by Kirkgate Arts and Heritage, All Saints’ Primary School Year 6 children aged 10 and 11 travelled through the Lake District to the cottage that Dorothy and William Wordsworth shared and where they both wrote their most famous works of poetry and prose.

The following day back at school the children worked on their own creative writing with the theme ‘Dear Diary’. They were inspired by the famous Journals of Lakeland life and her adventures in the fells that Dorothy Wordsworth wrote while helping brother William with his poetry.

Dorothy, Cockermouth’s most famous daughter and an early environmentalist, was born at Wordsworth House on Cockermouth Main Street 250 years ago. The children’s trip and creative writing workshop are part of Kirkgate’s year-long ‘I Am Dorothy’ project, funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and other donors. Cockermouth Rotary contributed to cost of the children’s coach trip.

Freelance writer Zoe Gilbert was hired by Kirkgate to work with All Saints’ School on the project. ‘The children were great,’ said Ms Gilbert, ‘and so engaged with the history and poetry. It was a glorious day and lovely to make the physical journey from the town where Dorothy was born to Dove Cottage. Wordsworth Grasmere very kindly gave us free entry and it was the day before they opened to the public so we had the Cottage and Museum to ourselves.

‘We talked about how Dorothy, William, his wife Mary and their children lived in the cottage and then, in the museum, we saw Dorothy’s journals and we imagined what life must have been like for them.

‘Back in the classroom the next day, the children did their own creative writing about the importance of nature, special places, and their emotions and senses. All the children were sharing their work and speaking up. I was blown away by their involvement.’

Ms Gilbert, who is also the National Trust’s Visitor Experience and Operations Manager at Cockermouth’s Wordsworth House and Garden, also gave free tickets for the children and their families to visit that venue when it reopens on April 2.

All Saints’ Head teacher Nicola Smallwood said: ‘We want to thank to Kirkgate for including our children in this project. They thoroughly enjoyed the visit to Dove Cottage and were inspired to produce some great writing.’

Kirkgate will run two more children’s writing workshops with Ms Gilbert. A second at All Saints’ will be on the theme of ‘Muddy and Magnificent’. Dorothy was a keen walker, climbing Scafell amongst other achievements. In March, children in years 4, 5 and 6 at Lorton and St Joseph’s Schools will visit Dove Cottage and write on the theme ‘Nature Notes’.