Rushbearing in the Lake District

Rushbearing in the Lake District.

Rushbearing is an ancient Lake District custom. The custom dates back to the times when the floors of churches were simply made of mud and earth. Every year, when the rushes were at their greenest, they were picked and taken to the church to cover the floor with new, sweet smelling grasses.

For families taking part in the Ambleside event, this means going out to the lake shores and picking lovely fresh green rushes. The rushes are then decorated and threaded though with flowers. This is the only time in their lives that our sons were happy to walk around carrying flowers!

In Grasmere too, everyone in the procession carries flowers and rushes. Even babies’ prams are decorated for the occasion.

Where and when do these events  take place?

Ambleside- first Saturday in July.

Where and when can you see a Ceremony in 2017? Well, Ambleside Rushbearing takes place on Saturday, 1 July 2017. Traditionally Ambleside’s big day is the first Saturday in July . For more information you can read Ambleside Online’s website  .    

black and white Rushbearing

Rushbearing Ambleside some years ago

The traditional  processesion in Ambleside assembles outside the school, and wends its way around the village, stopping at the Market Cross to sing the Rushbearing Hymn. Our children attended Ambleside Junior School, and the annual Rushbearing  day was an important event in the calendar every year. All children carry rushes (reeds) decorated with flowers. There are also large set piece “bearings”, the frames which are stored every year and redecorated freshly each July. They are quite heavy, and need strong arms. There is a harp, a cross, and a crown among the large traditional pieces.

After the Rushbearing procession, sports were held in the park, and all the children got a big piece of sticky gingerbread.. possibly their favourite part of the whole event.

harp rushbearing

The Harp, Ambleside Rushbearing

The band plays, the children and their families parade through the village- lovely! How wonderful that the old customs are still in full swing today.

Grasmere, 2nd Saturday in July (usually-)

Grasmere Rushbearing 2017 takes place this year on Saturday 8 July. You can read an excellent description of the 2016 event on Chris Shaw’s  Grasmere Village Blog here. 

2016 was wet! On her Grasmere Village Blog, Chris also has photos and news from a very sunny 2015 – click here to see it.

The customs of the Grasmere Rushbearing vary from those of Ambleside. In Grasmere the Rushbearing Maidens dress in their green dresses and carry the cloth. The large bearings are similar but not quite the same as those in Grasmere. The bearings are decorated in a different style.

Winding the rushes round frames takes place in St Oswald’s church Grasmere on the two days before the event. Helpers are always welcome.

The old hymns are sung and gingerbread is shared out. There is usually tea in St Oswald’s Church grounds, run by the WI.This year, due to the fact that a large chunk of the church yard is closed due to the Tower repairs, the after parade get together will take place in St Oswald’s, with musical accompaniment.

old grasmere rushbearing

Rushbearing in Grasmere many years ago

Here’s an old photo of Grasmere Rushbearing. The maidens today still wear the same outfits, but the clothing of the onlookers and other participants is much changed.

maidens grasmere

Grasmere Rushbearing Maidens 2015

modern rushbearing

Grasmere Rushbearing 2015

You can easily see either event if you are staying at Brockstone Grasmere Cottage.

Fingers crossed that the weather will stay dry this year.

For information about other villages with a similar events, click through here.

Eat cakes and raise money for good causes in the Lakes This week.

We love cakes. Morning coffee with cakes, afternoon tea with cakes, cakes in a picnic for a day out on the fells, cakes with friends, gingerbread, lemon drizzle cake, flapjack, Lakeland teabread………

lakeland tea bread on plate

White Moss Lakeland tea bread. Delicious cake.

This week visitors to Ambleside and Grasmere can enjoy cakes and raise money for two very good causes.

On Wednesday 6 April, Ambleside Choral Society is raising money for its funds with a Coffee Morning at Lucy’s on a Plate, Church Street, Ambleside. Lucy’s have very generously offered to host this event. Lucy’s coffee and a cake £2.50, plus cake stall, bric a brac and other tempting things to spend your money on and help raise money to keep the very popular Ambleside Choral Society financially viable. 10.30-12.30, Wednesday 6 April, Lucy’s , Church Street, Ambleside. Eat cakes and raise money for a good cause. That probably makes the cakes very low calorie, so no need to feel guilty.

On Thursday 7 April , 2pm  “An Afternoon Affair” in aid Marie Curie Cancer Care. St Oswald’s Church Grasmere is the setting for the launch of a new CD of specially composed music reflecting the Lake District’s wonderful scenery, wildlife and history. 2pm-3pm, entry £3, all proceeds going to the Marie Curie Cancer Care. The music has been composed by Vaughan Kennedy, who will be introducing his work and playing the music in the beautiful setting of St Oswald’s Church, Grasmere.

Grasmere Church. St Oswald's

Grasmere Church. St Oswald’s

This is followed by tea and cake across the road in Grasmere Rectory. Tea and a cake £2.50 ( or more if you’re feeling generous) Cakes are being provided by Grasmere WI. All proceeds from this are also going to the Marie Curie Cancer Care. . Grasmere Rectory from 3pm, Thursday 7 April. This is another very good reason to eat cakes. Eat cakes and raise money for good causes. Guilt free cakes in the beautiful Lake District.


Long weekend in our Grasmere Cottage

As autumn sets in and turns to winter, it’s easy to get stuck indoors, dreaming of warm summer days. If your only chance of getting outside is on the streets of a town or city, maybe with the occasional visit to a park, you may forget that fresh air and sunshine is vital to good winter health.

Those of us lucky enough to live in the Lake District spend lots of time outdoors, whatever the weather. We wrap up and set off on a brisk walk. If it’s raining we hope (but don’t expect) that it will dry up, but at the end of the walk we hop in the bath or shower, change our damp clothes , light the fire, and have a cup of tea ( or maybe something stronger) feeling the glow that comes from just being outdoors in glorious scenery.

We’re a pretty healthy bunch. You don’t see many overweight locals either.

Why not treat yourself to a Lake District winter break at our Grasmere cottage with amazing views? A long weekend of 3 nights is £350, 4 nights is £390, or, if you can stay a week, its £490. Brockstone Cottage has cosy oil fired central heating, a log fire laid ready for you to use on arrival, and a relaxing bubbly spa bath. It’s even possible to sit out on our south facing terrace on a sunny winter’s day. Whilst the valley and the village of Grasmere are in the shade of the hills during the winter months, our Grasmere Cottage, perched up on a hillside, gets all the sun going.

Here’s my photo of a January lunch break at Brockstone Grasmere Cottage.


Lunch on Brockstone Grasmere Cottage terrace, January

Lunch on Brockstone Grasmere Cottage terrace, January

Stay for a long weekend, or even a whole week, and sample the pleasure of a winter break in our Lakeland cottage.

Come before Christmas and enjoy the Christmas lights and great gift shopping in the Lake District villages and towns. Each village and town has its own special charm. Visit Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum, 10 minutes walk from Brockstone Cottage. Check out their excellent winter programme and exhibitions via the link.

Treat yourselves to an excellent value movie and meal deal at Zeffirelli’s Ambleside or see if you can fit in a visit to Fellini’s Ambleside for a special screening of theatre , ballets and opera from around the world. There’s live music every week too in Zeffirellis Jazz Bar.

For more information you can read my article about Things to do in Ambleside and another one I’ve written about Things to do in Grasmere.

If you can visit at Christmas, here’s a useful link to Christmas in the Lake District.

Please contact us if you would like to make a reservation for a wonderful long weekend or even a full week’s break in our Grasmere Cottage with amazing views, Brockstone Cottage Grasmere.