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The Off-Comers of Windermere

Birth of a Vibrant Victorian Township

Ian Jones


The Off-Comers of Windermere, Birth of a Vibrant Victorian Township fills a gap in the literature of the Lake District. It presents a comprehensive social history of the many off-comers who built their villas and mansions in a sylvan landscape, amongst the lakes and fells of Lakeland, creating the vibrant village we know today as Windermere. Who were these folk, wealthy and not, artisan and not, mostly strangers who came from off to shape a Northern Arcadia? All too often the memory of them and their contribution to the architecture, institutions and heritage of the place has faded, and been lost in the mists of time.

This book seeks to revive their memory and assemble a definitive record, before the facts are lost forever. It also describes the many working people who provided labour and skill to fashion the fabric, services and infrastructure of a vibrant township for the enjoyment of residents and tourists alike, who increasingly visit today. Windermere was born in 1847, a product of the railway age, when a branch line opened from Kendal to carry tourists into central Lakeland.

It was vigorously opposed by Wordsworth, who feared invasion of his homeland by uneducated masses from the industrial hinterland. So what was the plan, if any; who conceived it; and how was it accomplished? What linked a private church, a college for the sons of clergymen, a school for the poorer classes, and the elegant villas of gentlefolk? The narrative is rooted in records, building as far as possible on contemporaneous accounts of events, to weave a broad and colourful tapestry which stretches from a sylvan quietude in 1800, through the thrust of an iron way, to completion of a thriving township in 1900. A fascinating story emerges, supported by many colourful anecdotes, and original photographs taken in Victorian times by one of the founders.


Troubadour Publishing



Publication Date:



Paperback; 240 x 170mm