There are a number of mostly small and unusual museums in the Lake District area.

Beatrix Potter

Hill Top, near Sawrey, was the home of Beatrix Potter, creator of Peter Rabbit, to her death in 1943. The tiny 17th century house is open to the public, containing her watercolours, dolls house and mementoes. The Beatrix Potter Gallery, Hawkshead, shows an exhibition about Beatrix Potter as an author, artist and local farmer in the building that was once her husband's solicitor's office.

The Ruskin Museum

The Ruskin Museum is a small museum in Coniston named for John Ruskin, 1819-1900 He was an author, artist and social reformer who went to live in Brantwood in 1972. The museum contains watercolours, drawings and manuscripts.

The house Brantwood is also open to the public.

The museum also covers the local area and such well-known figures as author Arthur Ransome and the world speed record holding Campbells, father and son. Local copper mining is also featured.

William Wordsworth

Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount were both homes of William Wordsworth and his family. Dove Cottage in Grasmere is an early 17th century inn.

Rydal Mount is in the small hamlet of Rydal overlooking Rydal Water. Both are open to the public. Dove Cottage has a small museum behind it containing portraits, manuscripts and memorabilia.

Wordsworth House, Cockermouth, is an elegant Georgian house where Wordsworth was born in 1770 and spent his early years. There are exhibits that include his work, family furniture and a family tree.

The Armitt Museum

The Armitt Museum, Rydal Road, Ambleside, has local interest exhibits.

The Windermere Steamboat Museum

The Windermere Steamboat Museum is presently closed for the renovation of the boats and some site buildings. It has a great collection of vessels: steam, motor and sail, including Beatrix Potter's rowing boat and the Esperance, used as a houseboat in Swallows and Amazons by the BBC.

The Ravenglass to Eskdale Railway

The Ravenglass to Eskdale Railway is a narrow gauge, originally built in 1875 to carry iron ore and graphite. It now carries passengers behind engines, some of which are steam powered. The line passes from high fells to the tree clad lower slopes and the estuary at Ravenglass. There is a small museum at the Ravenglass station that concentrates on the railway and the local mines.


Keswick claims the world's first pencil factory, 1832, using locally mined graphite. A small pencil museum describes the process. A Keswick local museum contains a history of the town, a five hundred year old cat, musical stones and manuscripts by Wordsworth and Southey.


Kendal has a 'Museum of Lakeland Life' with an Edwardian street scene and exhibits on local industry, also a room devoted to children's author Arthur Ransome.

Another Kendal Museum

Shows local archaeological finds and covers the history of Kendal castle. There is also a large natural history section.

Furness Abbey

Furness Abbey is 2km north of Barrow in Furness and open to the public. A Cistercian Abbey since 1127, the red sandstone ruins sit in a quiet hidden valley. Some parts of the abbey still stand to almost their original height. Powerful in its day, it was dissolved with many other religious houses by Henry VIII in 1537.

Millom Folk Museum

Millom Folk Museum, set in railway station buildings, includes a full-scale reconstruction of a local drift mine, with a replica of a miner's cottage kitchen and a blacksmith's forge. The small museum and information centre concentrate on the town and its people, mining and the iron works.

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