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The House

The present owner's father came here in 1961 and found the house in a poor condition. Since then many repairs have been made to both contents and structure including tackling two severe outbreaks of dry rot.

In 1981 the decision was made to open the ground floor of the house to the public.

Besides an interesting collection of furniture and portraits there is a very unusual display of manuscripts. These include James Spedding's collection of Francis Bacon's works as well as letters from Wordsworth, Tennyson, Southey, Thomas Carlyle and John Constable: all friends of the family.

Visitors often say 'We could live here.' The live piano music contributes to the relaxed atmosphere. Children are actively welcomed. There is an owl hunt for the younger ones, a history quiz for the slightly older and many things for them to find and do. Many children return again and again. Members of the family are usually here to welcome and help look after visitors.

Until the middle of the last century it was lived in by one large household. Now the house and surrounding buildings have been adapted for several households so Mirehouse remains home to a substantial number of people.

The Earl of Derby built the present house in 1666. It has only been sold once, when he parted with it in 1688 to Roger Gregg. Since then it has passed by inheritance. It has been altered by succeeding generations for their own convenience.

The Hall

Fresh flowers in the hall together with a warm welcome from the guides and live piano music drifting through the house are a delightful introduction to Mirehouse. The hall is part of the original building of 1666 and the oldest part of the house. 

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The Dining Room

Reached through the Smoking Room, with its 14-volume biography of Sir Francis Bacon by James Spedding (1808-81), this bay and its counterpart, were built on to the original, rectangular house in 1790. The dining room is classical with formal beautiful paintings, yet some of it’s contents are quite intriguing (spot the “potty” and the iron marks!).

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The Drawing Room

This delightful sunny room with views across the lawns to Bassenthwaite Lake is where the main literary connections of Mirehouse and the Spedding family are to be found. Tennyson came to stay at Mirehouse on a number of occasions, not least for part of his honeymoon.

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The Library

The Library, which was largely collected by Thomas Story Spedding and his father, covers many subjects, including theology, philosophy, science, history and the classics. The Library also contains the letters of John Stuart Mill and Matthew Arnold, about Tom Spedding's book on the Poor Laws.

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The Music Room & Little Drawing Room

Here, a comfortable sofa and armchairs await visitors who wish to sit in comfort to listen to the piano. Books and magazines are at hand giving more information about Mirehouse and it's wider context. This room has wonderful views - across fields of peacefully grazing sheep - to the Lake as well as to St Bega’s church which featured in Melvyn Bragg’s Credo.

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The School Room & Nursery

Passing from the Study into the nursery and schoolroom you go through the original outside wall of the house. Children are actively encouraged to play in this nursery - they can ride the rocking horse, play with the dolls and try out some of the games and write on a slate. Other items on display are a hip bath and a late 19th century barrel organ.

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