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Hardwicke Drummond Rawnsley

An Extraordinary Life 1851-1920

Michael Allen, Rosalind Rawnsley


Hardwicke Drummond Rawnsley is usually thought of today as a co-founder of the National Trust, but that represents only a fraction of his achievements.  Defender of the Lake District, educationist, animal welfare campaigner, pioneer in public health, moral crusader, one of the first county councillors, prolific author, Rawnsley also served 34 years as a parish priest, was appointed residentiary Canon of Carlisle Cathedral and an Honorary Chaplain to King George V, as well as being a Colonel in the Territorial Force.  He was one of the most effective fund-raisers of his generation for innumerable organisations and societies.  Fellow Lake District pioneer, Beatrix Potter, counted Rawnsley as both friend and mentor.

The products of the Keswick School of Industrial Arts, which Rawnsley founded with his wife Edith, were to original designs by Edith or by the craftsmen themselves.  These pieces are now much sought after and highly prized.

The right to roam, National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the protected heritage of buildings and landscapes are nowadays taken for granted.  But their cherished existence today is in no small measure thanks to the efforts of Rawnsley and his contemporary activists.

He devoted his life to improving the plight of the less fortunate, recognising the benefits which workers in polluted industrial cities and towns would gain from access to the countryside.  He used his prodigious energy and powers of persuasion to ensure that access to nature remained open to all.  Taking his inspiration from Wordsworth, he battled against mine operators and large landowners to prevent the spoliation of Lakeland from railway construction.

After Rawnsley’s death, Friar’s Crag, a promontory overlooking Derwentwater, was purchased by public subscription in his memory, and handed over to the nation to ensure the public access for which he had battled so long.

A century has elapsed since his second wife, Eleanor, published an appreciation of her husband’s life, and so a new and extended biography is long overdue.


The New Beaver Press


476p + 24pp colour plates

Publication Date:




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