Canon Rawnsley had been laid to rest in the churchyard, the great concourse of mourners had departed, and life returned more-or-less to normal at Crosthwaite and at Allan Bank. In the early years of her widowhood Eleanor kept herself fully occupied, first with the writing of her biography of Hardwicke, published in 1923 and well-received by the critics; and with the various memorials to her late husband. Many of the organisations with which Hardwicke had been associated wished in one way or another to celebrate his life and work. In Carlisle, for instance, a new Boys Club in the Culdowgate district of the city was founded in his memory by the Red Triangle Service of the Y.M.C.A. and the Carlisle Juvenile Welfare Association. The Club was opened in January 1921 by Princess Marie Louise, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria.
The National Trust began considering how best to commemorate Hardwicke’s contribution as joint founder. In February 1921, the Trust were given an option to purchase Friar’s Crag, Lord’s Island and eight acres of Scarf Close Bay on the shores of Derwentwater. This would indeed be a more fitting memorial for Rawnsley, since Friars Crag was an area which had been very close to his heart, and the site he had chosen as most appropriate for John Ruskin to be commemorated. The option being open for six months only, an appeal was immediately launched. The purchase price of £2,300 was quickly raised, and 18 months later, on 7 September 1922, Lady Mabel Howard of Greystoke Castle, officially opened the national memorial to Canon Rawnsley. The following year a commemorative plaque was placed alongside the Friar’s Crag footpath:
To the honoured memory of Hardwicke Drummond Rawnsley 1851-1920 who greatly loving the fair things of nature and of art set all his love to the service of God and man. He was Canon of Carlisle Chaplain to the King Vicar of Crosthwaite 1883-1917 and one of the founders of the National Trust into whose care Friars Crag Lords Island and part of Great Wood were given by subscribers who desired that his name should not be forgotten 7 September 1922.
Other memorials soon followed. Eleanor presented to Carlisle Cathedral a bronze medallion portrait of Hardwicke by the Italian sculptor Andrea Carlo Lucchesi. Set in Borrowdale stone by a Keswick craftsman, the memorial, placed on the south wall of the cathedral, was unveiled by the Dean of York on 22 October 1923. In his speech accepting custody of the memorial the Dean of Carlisle expressed his gladness that that there should be a ‘prominent memorial to one of the best known and most remarkable men in the long list of those who had held canonries in the Church’.
The Rawnsleys’ connection with Carlisle Cathedral did not end with Hardwicke’s death, since Eleanor remained an active member of the Friends of Carlisle Cathedral; was a member of the Diocesan Advisory Committee for the Care of Churches and became a lay representative of the Diocese at the National Church Assembly. Both Hardwicke and Edith were commemorated at St. Kentigern’s, Crosthwaite, with a tablet of Borrowdale stone, designed and worked by the Keswick School of Industrial Arts, mounted on the wall of the baptistery, and unveiled on 17 June 1924.
Hardwicke’s contribution to the success of Keswick School was remembered by the naming of a new building after him. Conceived in 1937, the plan was for a large two-storey structure, with an assembly area, a permanent stage and a Music Room on the ground floor, with two laboratories, preparation rooms and a Geography Room above. The whole was to be constructed of Borrowdale stone up to the first floor, brick roughcast for the second, and roofed with Borrowdale green slate. The Foundation Stone was laid in June 1939 and the Rawnsley Hall was opened with a Service of Dedication on 24 May 1940, almost 20 years to the day after Hardwicke’s death. The Hall continued in service for the next 57 years, being eventually sold in 1997 when the new Keswick School was established on the present Lairthwaite site near Crosthwaite Church.
In the years following Hardwicke’s death the various war memorials with which he had been involved in the planning were completed, with several memorial plaques being made at the Keswick School of Industrial Arts. A war memorial of an entirely different kind, and one that would doubtless have given him great satisfaction since he himself had been a member of the Club, was the gift to the nation in June 1924 of some 3,000 acres of mountain land in the Lake District, including Great Gable and eleven other peaks, in memory of the twenty men of the Fell and Rock Climbing Club who had given their lives in the Great War.
Eleanor ensured that many of the organisations in which Hardwicke had been involved continued to flourish. Following her husband’s death she was elected a trustee of the Wordsworth Trust. At about the same time she was appointed Chair of Trustees of the Keswick School of Industrial Arts, seeing the School through difficult times in the 1930s and during and after the Second World War; remaining active in this role for nearly 40 years until her death. She was a member of the Derwentwater Properties Local Committee of the National Trust, and chairman of the Trust’s Grasmere Committee. Her affection for the Lake District certainly matched that of Edith and Hardwicke and, following her late husband’s example, she wrote frequent letters to the press, as well as giving lectures to diverse organisations urging the need to maintain the beauty of the Lakes, and bewailing the ugliness and disfigurement caused by litter. As Hardwicke had done so many times before, Eleanor attended some of the Shepherds’ Meetings, including those taking place on Helvellyn.
The annual Grasmere Dialect Plays, revived by Eleanor in 1920, continued to be performed. The themes were scenes from local life, and the plays were written entirely in the Cumbrian dialect, of which Eleanor was a fluent speaker. In addition to her involvement with the Plays, she played a large part in community activities of all kinds. She organised many exhibitions in Grasmere; attended school speech days and prize-giving ceremonies; opened Church Fêtes and devoted considerable time to the Girls’ Friendly Society, of which she was the Carlisle Diocesan President. In great demand as a speaker, Eleanor regularly gave talks on subjects such as Cumberland folk customs and dialects; the history of Grasmere Church; Wordsworth and the Lakes, and other topics of local interest. In 1925 she became the first female Magistrate on the Ambleside Bench, and in 1933 was sworn in as a member of the last Grand Jury of Westmorland Assizes. Sharing Hardwicke’s interest in education, Eleanor became a governor of Kelsick School, Ambleside, and succeeded her husband as a governor of Keswick School. Hardwicke and Edith had established a fund to enable students at the School to attend University, and their endowment continued to provide income for scholarships until after the Second World War, when the fund was amalgamated with several others to provide a modest income for grants to students, and for the award of prizes at the annual prize-giving.
The Rawnsleys’ memory lives on in many different aspects of Lakeland life. The Keswick Museum and Art Gallery at Fitz Park, closely associated with the Rawnsleys, who had done so much to build up its reputation, continues to flourish. It now houses an extensive collection of Keswick School of Industrial Arts artefacts. The Grasmere Sports are still held every year, although the Rawnsley Cup for wrestling is no longer competed for, since by winning it for the fifth time in 1934 Douglas Clark became its outright owner. The Rawnsley Shield for choral singing, on the other hand, is still awarded at the annual Carlisle Regional Music and Drama Festival. This Shield, first awarded in 1901, is now competed for in the Open Choirs class. It is the largest trophy awarded at the Festival and is frequently to be found proudly displayed in the winning school’s entrance hall. The Rawnsley Shield for Bellringing, first competed for in 1895 at the Cumberland Association of Change Ringers annual competition, has had a more chequered career. The Shield was last won in competition in 1935 and for many years afterwards was kept in St. Stephen’s Church, Carlisle. When the church was demolished in 1969 the Shield was relocated to St. Michael’s Church, Workington. Unfortunately, in 1994 it was damaged when a large part of the church was destroyed in a fire, but it was salvaged by some of the bell-ringers, restored during the following year and now hangs on permanent display outside the ringing chamber in the new St. Michael’s Church, re-dedicated in 2001.
With the death of Hardwicke’s elder brother, Willingham, at his home at Shamley Green, near Guildford, on 18 February 1927, Eleanor lost a close friend. Willingham, though never in the limelight to the same extent as his younger brother, had been in his own right a man of parts. In the 1880s he had been a master at Uppingham School before setting up Winton House, his own successful preparatory school near Winchester. He was the author of several books including Highways and Byways of Lincolnshire (1914), The Life, Diaries and Correspondence of Jane, Lady Franklin (1923), and Edward Thring, Maker of Uppingham School (1926). He was President of the Poetry Society, and a recognised authority on Tennyson. Willingham had been an active supporter of the National Trust and assisted the Trust in negotiations to secure several beauty spots in Surrey. For nearly fifteen years from 1910 he had served as a co-opted member of the Trust’s Executive Committee. Willingham had always retained an affection for Halton Holgate, of which his father and grandfather had been Rector, and in 1924 he gave a plot of land to the church to provide for an extension to the graveyard, where he was himself to be buried beside his parents on 23 February 1927. His sister Ethel in due course gave a memorial tablet in his memory, which was placed on the south wall of the church, between the two stained glass windows previously given by the Rawnsley family.
Eleanor continued to be involved with the various conservation organisations with which Hardwicke had been associated. In August 1920 the Society for Safeguarding the Natural Beauties of the Lake District, which had been formed by Rawnsley in 1919, held its first Annual General Meeting. Sir Frederick Chance, formerly a member of Cumberland County Council and High Sheriff of Cumberland, was elected Chairman in succession to Hardwicke. Eleanor Rawnsley and Gordon Wordsworth were appointed Hon. Secretaries. The Society, initially consisting of forty-three members, was not open to the general public and only met formally once a year, preferring to achieve its objectives through persuasion and informal discussion.
Their meticulous work on behalf of the Society proved to be very time consuming, since nothing which impinged upon the welfare of the Lake District escaped their attention. Litter, then as now, was a perennial problem; objections were made to the use of concrete edging on kerbs along the sides of roads in the Lake District; to quarrying on Coniston Old Man; to electric cables near Grange-over-Sands, and to tree planting by the Forestry Commission. The plan by the Central Electricity Board to erect pylons to carry overhead power cables across Northern Lakeland was a long-term campaign, involving not just the Society, but also the National Trust. Of such widespread public interest was this proposal that the Trust organised a public meeting in Grasmere, with many of the executive committee members present. The advice of members of the Society was sought by many individuals and organisations.
Kenneth Spence took over as Secretary of the Society in 1929, but Eleanor continued to be an active member of the Executive Committee. Spence, Eleanor Rawnsley, Gordon Wordsworth, James Cropper and the Revd. Henry Symonds led the cause of conservation in the Lake District during the following years, but with the passage of time, the Society for Safeguarding the Natural Beauties of the Lake District was found by some to be too narrow in outlook.
Throughout the 1920s gifts of land in the Lake District continued to be made to the National Trust. The Trust, and the Society for Safeguarding the Natural Beauties of the Lake District, collaborated in the negotiations. In 1925, in order to prevent it from falling into the hands of developers, Hardwicke’s old friend, Sir John Randles, purchased 80 acres of land around the northern end of Derwentwater and presented it to the Trust. During his address at the handing-over ceremony Sir John suggested that the equivalent of a Royal Commission was now urgently required to consider the best way of preserving the whole of Lakeland for the nation. In 1927, funds were raised by this means for the purchase of Rectory Fields, together with an area of foreshore on Windermere, which had been offered for sale at £9,900. Wray Castle and sixty-four acres of land on the shores of Windermere were given to the Trust in 1929 by Sir Robert and Lady Barclay. This piecemeal approach to acquisitions proved to be most unsatisfactory, and there was widespread anxiety expressed about the continued vulnerability of Lakeland.
Meanwhile, the Government had in 1929 set up a Select Committee, chaired by Mr. Christopher Addison, with the brief to make recommendations on National Parks. A Lake District National Reserve Committee was duly formed, with Kenneth Spence as secretary, to provide information and advice to the Addison Committee, which eventually, having collated evidence submitted by different organisations around the country, issued its report in April 1931. The Report recommended that a National Parks Commission be created and that in certain areas, including the Lake District, a joint regional planning executive should be established to take forward the concept of the National Park. However, because of the downturn in the economy, the Report was shelved and nothing was done. Spence and his colleagues were now convinced that the only way anything would ever be achieved in the Lake District, would be to bring pressure to bear on the Government to revive and implement the recommendations of the Addison Committee. The vulnerability of the Lake District became more obvious still in April 1934, when it was announced that 5,000 acres of freehold estate, including the lakes of Buttermere, Crummock Water and Loweswater, had been put up for sale on the open market for £12,500. If not sold privately, the lakes and estate were to be divided into lots and sold by auction. The National Trust, anxious not to miss such an opportunity, immediately launched an appeal for funds.
The following month, at the annual rally of the Cumberland and Lake District Rambler’s Federation, held on 17 June 1934 in Fitz Park, Keswick, a new Association, eventually to become the Friends of the Lake District, was launched. Prior to this gathering there had been urgent discussions held with numerous individuals and organisations having a stake in the Lake District; among them the Society for Safeguarding the Natural Beauties of the Lake District; to ensure that all involved would be supportive of this new initiative. Eleanor Rawnsley, Gordon Wordsworth and others endorsed a leaflet launching the new Association, to be open to all who were interested.
At the inaugural meeting of the Friends of the Lake District, held in Windermere on 22 September 1934, at which Eleanor Rawnsley was elected an honorary member, it was announced that over five hundred people had already joined the association, and that £550 had been raised to date towards the National Trust’s Buttermere campaign. A fortnight or so later, the National Trust was able to announce that in just six months the necessary funds had been raised for the purchase of all three lakes and the surrounding estate. Hardwicke Rawnsley would no doubt have been jubilant.
The National Trust itself was now considering how to make itself a more effective organisation. In 1937 a new National Trust Act reached the Statute Book. By the terms of this Act, which would become the new National Trust Constitution, the Trust was empowered to launch the Country Houses Scheme. Landowners who wished to do so could donate their property to the Trust and create endowments for their maintenance, with the property then becoming exempt from income tax and estate duty. The income from stocks and shares, the lease of buildings and farmland and so forth could thenceforward be used by the Trust to finance the upkeep of the donated property. At the same time the landowner could reserve the right to continue to live in the house for his or her lifetime, with the proviso that the property would be open to view by the general public at specific times.
In 1951, Eleanor, to commemorate the centenary of Hardwicke’s birth, vested Allan Bank in the National Trust. As she had done previously, she made use of Allan Bank to promote not only the National Trust but also many of her other interests, including the Wordsworth Trust and Dove Cottage, conveniently situated on the other side of Grasmere. During the 1950s, on Sundays in July, she opened the gardens under the auspices of the National Gardens Scheme. In 1953 she presented a collection of 600 letters and papers, many written by John Ruskin, to the John Rylands Library in Manchester. Some years earlier she had donated Hardwicke’s library to the Charlotte Mason College, a collection eventually transferred to the Armitt Museum and Library at Ambleside, with which Hardwicke had been so closely associated.
Eleanor died on 29 April 1959 in her eighty-sixth year, having lived in Grasmere for nearly seventy years. Her funeral service was held at St. Oswald’s Church, Grasmere, on 4 May 1959 and she was buried next to Hardwicke and Edith at Crosthwaite. The inscription added to the headstone reads simply, ‘Eleanor Foster Rawnsley 29 April 1959 A True Help Mate’.
Eleanor was respected for her unsurpassed knowledge of the life and traditions of the Lake District and the devotion with which she shared that knowledge through her writings, particularly the Grasmere Dialect Plays. Her involvement with the different associations in which she played an active part was greatly appreciated by all those who had the cause of conservation of the landscape and culture of Lakeland at heart.
Edith, Eleanor and Hardwicke had been great friends for many years. While Hardwicke deliberately courted publicity, he did so in the certain knowledge that he had the staunch and unfailing support of two outstanding women, without whom it is unlikely that he could have achieved as much as he did in his remarkable life. All three Rawnsleys were devoted to Lakeland and spent their lives fighting for the preservation of its unique and fragile landscape, its traditions, its people and their way of life, striving at the same time to shape a better world for their own generation and the generations as yet unborn. Eleanor lived long enough to see the Lake District became a National Park in 1951, the centenary of Hardwicke’s birth. Perhaps the ultimate accolade for all three, and one which would greatly have rejoiced all their hearts, was the designation of the entire Lake District as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017.
In September 1982, Harry Ruckley organised a Rawnsley Exhibition at the Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry in Kendal, at which Una Hanbury and Conrad Rawnsley, Hardwicke’s surviving grandchildren, and other members of the family, were present. In his address at the opening of this Exhibition, Conrad drew attention to what he considered the deplorable absence of a national monument to honour his grandfather. He suggested that a suitable site for a commemorative statue might be Waterloo Place in London, opposite the monument to Sir John Franklin, Hardwicke’s great-uncle. This rather naïve suggestion was not taken up, but in any case, Rawnsley had perhaps not recollected that there already existed a national, and perhaps more fitting memorial in the shape of Friars Crag on the banks of Derwentwater. Closure of the Keswick School of Industrial Arts was announced in November 1984. After the sale of the School and its assets, the final meeting of the Trustees was held in May 1987, with the surplus proceeds of the sale given to Keswick School, to fund a Rawnsley Design and Technology Department. Since the publication of Eleanor Rawnsley’s biography of Hardwicke very little has been published on the life and achievements of this extraordinary man. A notable exception is the chapter devoted to Rawnsley in the book, Founders of the National Trust, by Graham Murphy. Since 1993, at Murphy’s instigation, Rawnsley has also had an entry in the Dictionary of National Biography, from which until that date his name had been inexplicably absent.
The Centenary of the founding of the National Trust in January 1995 was celebrated, among many other nationwide events, by a special service at St. Paul’s Cathedral attended by HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, as President of the National Trust, and HRH the Prince of Wales as Patron of the Centenary celebrations. Rosalind Rawnsley, representing the present generation of the joint founder’s family, was invited to read Tennyson’s ‘Crossing the Bar’. Among others taking part, the novelist, Baroness P. D. James, also gave a reading. A Centenary Luncheon was held at Grosvenor House in London, with the Prince of Wales, Vice-President of the National Trust, as Guest of Honour. An exhibition, principally of a display of books, entitled ‘Ruskin, Rawnsley and the National Trust’, organised to mark the centenary, was arranged by the Ruskin Programme at Lancaster University, in association with the Trust. The centenary of the acquisition of Brandelhow, the National Trust’s first acquisition in the Lake District, was marked on 16 October 2002 by a commemorative day at Keswick School. A sculpture of cupped hands cradling two acorns, carved in oak by John Merrill, the National Trust Lakeland artist-in-residence, was unveiled in Brandelhow Park where, following the example of Princess Louise and the three National Trust founders, who had each planted an oak tree at the opening ceremony a hundred years earlier, Rosalind Rawnsley, as great grand-daughter of the Canon, also planted an oak tree. It is perhaps a happy coincidence that 2020, the centenary of Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley’s death, also marks the 125th anniversary of the founding of the National Trust, to which he had dedicated so much of his life.
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