1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Grasmere

GRASMERE, a village and lake of Westmorland, in the heart of the English Lake District. The village (pop. of urban district in 1901, 781) lies near the head of the lake, on the small river Rothay and the Keswick-Ambleside road, 121/2 m. from Keswick and 4 from Ambleside. The scenery is very beautiful; the valley about the lakes of Grasmere and Rydal Water is in great part wooded, while on its eastern flank there rises boldly the range of hills which includes Rydal Fell, Fairfield and Seat Sandal, and, farther north, Helvellyn. On the west side are Loughrigg Fell and Silver How. The village has become a favourite centre for tourists, but preserves its picturesque and sequestered appearance. In a house still standing William Wordsworth lived from 1799 to 1808, and it was subsequently occupied by Thomas de Quincey and by Hartley Coleridge. Wordsworth’s tomb, and also that of Coleridge, are in the churchyard of the ancient church of St Oswald, which contains a memorial to Wordsworth with an inscription by John Keble. A festival called the Rushbearing takes place on the Saturday within the octave of St Oswald’s day (August 5th), when a holiday is observed and the church decorated with rushes, heather and flowers. The festival is of early origin, and has been derived by some from the Roman Floralia, but appears also to have been made the occasion for carpeting the floors of churches, unpaved in early times, with rushes. Moreover, in a procession which forms part of the festivities at Grasmere, certain Biblical stories are symbolized, and in this a connexion with the ancient miracle plays may be found (see H. D. Rawnsley, A Rambler’s Note-Book at the English Lakes, Glasgow, 1902). Grasmere is also noted for an athletic meeting in August.

The lake of Grasmere is just under 1 m. in length, and has an extreme breadth of 766 yds. A ridge divides the basin from north to south, and rises so high as to form an island about the middle. The greatest depth of the lake (75 ft.) lies to the east of this ridge.