The History of Old Windebrowe, the Tithe Barn and the Centre

Let’s go back to the beginning…

Or at least let’s go back 500 years or so… to one of the oldest buildings in the Keswick area – Old Windebrowe. It dates back to the sixteenth century when German miners from Augsburg came to work at the Brigham Forge, just down the hill from Old Windebrowe.

It is clear looking at the building that there have been various add-ons and possible removal of constructions over the years; looking from the northern side of the building (as seen in the photo) it has been extended a number of times.

The Grade II listed building now principally consists of the main Tithe Barn and the connecting Dairy Cottage. Externally there is the original cobbled courtyard at the rear of the building, the slate flagged walled garden at the front of the building and a couple of outhouses.

Move forward  300 years to Wordsworth…

In the late 1700s the Calvert family owned the property and surrounding land. One of the sons, Raisley Calvert, a close friend of William Wordsworth, had greatly valued the support and friendship of Wordsworth and saw great potential in him, encouraging Wordsworth to continue in his writing. Raisley became ill with consumption, which caused his death at the young age of 21, in 1795. In his will he left Wordsworth a legacy of £900, giving the poet the freedom to devote himself full-time to writing poetry.

Wordsworth acknowledged this debt in his sonnet “To the Memory of Raisley Calvert”

“Calvert! It must not be unheard by them
Who may respect my name that I to thee
Owed many years of early liberty.”

The Old Windebrowe cottage, (now known as Dairy Cottage) was lent rent-free to Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy, by Raisley’s elder brother in 1794. This was their first home of their own, where they both lived for some time.

During this period, Wordsworth wrote other poems comprised in “The Windy Brow Notebook”, which is at Dove Cottage, Grasmere, the most important which is “Salisbury Plain”.

It was owned by the Calverts until it was sold to Anthony Spedding in 1833. It was given to the Calvert Trust in 1976 by John Fryer-Spedding.

With the Old Windebrowe associations and such a story of encouragement, potential and support, it seems only fitting that Raisley’s name be taken to represent The Calvert Trust, and likewise with his connections to… Calvert Reconnections!

And to today…

Until late 2018, the Tithe Barn was used for Calvert Trust guests as two self-catering apartments (Groom’s Cottage and The Coach House) with the upstairs barn area being used for archery and storage.

In winter 2018/19 refurbishment began by Stobbarts of Workington, under a design and Build contract, administered by Edwin Thompson LLP in Keswick to renovate the old Grade II listed building into the new Calvert Reconnections Centre. The upper floor of the Tithe Barn (see the photo taken during the works showing the main living area) has been converted into a homely living space and the lower floor into 10 guest bedrooms and bathrooms. Dairy Cottage now consists of 3 additional ‘spare’ bedrooms, the Wordsworth Room (where William and Dorothy lived) which is used as a classroom/indoor activity area, and a separate independent living flat.

The main building and renovation works on the property were completed in September 2019, (you can read more about it here) and we are now taking referrals.

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