Five poets’ homes

  • 10 June 2015

This weekend sees the 150th anniversary of W.B. Yeats’ birth; visit the homes of five influential British bards to get your own rhyming couplets flowing.

1. Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire
Free entry with National Art Pass

‘Pleasure’s a sin, and sometimes sin is a pleasure’, Lord Byron wrote in his famous narrative poem Don Juan; here you can judge for yourself whether the poet's magnificent giltwood bed is a pleasure or a sin. Byron, a leading figure in the Romantic movement inherited Newstead Abbey from his uncle, the 5th Lord Byron when he was just ten. The historic house is now a beautiful monument to its past inhabitants; with not only Byron’s possessions, such as his bed and pistol, on display but the flamboyant commissions made by other occupants.

2. Dove Cottage, Cumbria
Free entry with National Art Pass

William Wordsworth instantly fell in love with the cottage whilst on a walk with fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge; and you probably will too. Nestled in the rolling Cumbrian landscape, it is here that Wordsworth was inspired to write some of his most important and much-loved poems, such as I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud. Little has changed since the poet and his sister lived here over 200 years ago; the stone floors, coal fires, wild garden and family’s possessions are still present.

3. Shakespeare’s Family Homes, Warwickshire
Free entry with National Art Pass

The prolific Elizabethan playwright, bard and actor wrote over 150 sonnets and 38 plays before his death at the age of 52. This picturesque collection of five houses in and around Stratford-upon-Avon traces the life and times of the Bard from the house he was born in to the beautiful thatched farmhouse where Shakespeare courted his wife, Anne Hathaway, in adolescence. 

4. Keats House, London
Free entry with National Art Pass

John Keats came to live at Wentworth Place in 1818 and although he only stayed here for 17 months he wrote some of his most enduring poetry and fell in love with 'the girl next door'. Keats, another Romantic poet, is said to have written Ode to a Nightingale under the resident pear tree. You can see personal objects belonging to the poet including the engagement ring he gave to Fanny Brawne (although he tragically died before marrying her) and a copy of his death mask.

5. Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Ayrshire
Standard entry charge

Spanning across 10 acres of glorious countryside, the museum encompasses Burns Cottage where the poet was born, historic landmarks where he set some of his works, monumental gardens and a modern museum dedicated to the work of Scotland's most famous literary export. Robert Burns was a pioneer of the Romantic movement, inspiring many poets in his wake. Perhaps his most famous achievement was writing Auld Lang Syne, commonly sang across the UK on Hogmanay and New Year’s Eve.

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Tags: What to seeMuseums and galleries