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John Ruskin and Brantwood

October 19, 2013

John Ruskin towers over so many aspects of life in Victorian Britain that it is difficult to know where to begin. Many moons ago, when I was an undergraduate specialising in Victorian history, I struggled to try and place him in a convenient slot.Wray Castle and Brantwood 040

You just can’t!

At his home at Brantwood on the shores of Coniston the other week, on a quite beautiful Lake District day, I tried again.

Just to get started:

Ruskin promoted (not in any order of importance – these were ALL important causes to him:

The importance of art and literature and the belief that these were the territory of ALL members of society and not just the academics and well-off.

The creation of a Welfare State, social security benefits and a free health service.

Tackling pollution.

Painting and drawing.


Fighting for access to the countryside.

Preserving old paths and ways.

Studying architecture, rocks and geology.

Enjoying mountain landscapes.

Promoting the joys of country walking and rambling.Wray Castle and Brantwood 024

Promoting the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood of artists.

Craftsmanship as opposed to shoddy mass-production.

Creating gardens.

Conserving the landscape – his ideas influenced the creators of the National Trust.

And believe me these are just a few!

His home at Brantwood, a strange development, something that seems to grow out of the wooded hillside, is well-worth a visit. His study overlooks Coniston Water and the Coniston fells, the Old Man and Wetherlam. How he got any work done at all with views like that is beyond me.

Do make a point of visiting Brantwood and reading Ruskin’s works. He deserves to be better known!

More on Ruskin to come…Wray Castle and Brantwood 025



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