John Ruskin, artist, thinker and art critic lived at Brantwood from 1871 until 1900. He set about improving the property in line with his views on aesthetics and husbandry of the land. Almost all the things that Ruskin carried out on the Brantwood estate and a great deal of its natural features made their way into his writings. When Ruskin was in residence, Brantwood was frequently visited by William Gershom Collingwood, painter, author, archaeologist and Ruskin’s secretary. He lived nearby at Lanehead.
Arthur Ransome spent many childhood summers at High Nibthwaite and was a frequent visitor in adult life, becoming close friends with W. G. Collingwood. Coniston Water, its surrounding fells, and - perhaps most importantly - Peel Island with its secret harbour, inspired Arthur Ransome to write his Swallows and Amazons stories, and many of the locations in the books can be found around Coniston. Ransome’s home in 1940 – 45 was Heald, a mile south of Brantwood. In 1960, he and his wife, Evgenia, purchased Hill Top Cottage near Backbarrow. They are both buried in Rusland Churchyard.
George Romney purchased the land at Whitestock in 1801. The son of a cabinet maker, he was one of the most famous portrait painters of his day. He painted, amongst others, Emma Hamilton the mistress of Admiral Horatio Nelson. Dying in 1802, he never had the opportunity to live in Rusland, but his son built Whitestock Hall and his descendants lived there until the estate was sold c1904; several are buried in Rusland Churchyard.
William Wordsworth & Peatrix Potter
The poet William Wordsworth, and the author and conservationist Beatrix Potter lived significant parts of their lives near Hawkshead to the north of the scheme area. The landscape of our area would have played a role in their thinking and vice versa. They often walked in the woods on the Graythwaite estate, which was the inspiration for the setting of Potter’s book, The Fairy Caravan.
Franz Von Werra
Inspired by an escape attempt from Grizedale POW camp by Franz Von Werra in late 1940, Grizedale Forest features in a post-war book and 1957 film called The One That Got Away.