The art critic and social reformer John Ruskin wrote of Friars Crag:
Ruskin, a pioneer of the protection of the unspoiled beauty of the Lake District, said that the view from Friars’ Crag “is one of the three or four most beautiful in Europe”.
Much later his influential thinking on the preservation of historical monuments and buildings and the conservation of open spaces inspired two of his friends Canon Hardwicke Drummond Rawnsley and Octavia Hill, who was once an art pupil of his, to form the National Trust.
In turn, Canon Rawnsley’s views on the preservation of the natural beauty of the Lake District has a profound impact upon a young woman called Beatrix Potter. She spent many summers holidaying with her family at Derwentwater when she was writing her childrens books The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, The Tale of Benjamin Bunny and The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-winkle. When she died, Beatrix left 4000 acres of land 15 farms and 20 other houses and buildings to the National Trust.
In October 1900, nine months after his death, a monument to Ruskin was unveiled just off the path to Friars’ Crag. The driving force behind the erection of the Ruskin memorial was Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley.
Ruskin was an immensely infulential and far-thinking art critic and writer during the latter part of the nineteenth century and his thoughts and philosophy still impact upon thousands of lives today. Although many people are unfamiliar with his work, Ruskin’s life and legacy are fascinating and hugely relevant in the twenty first century.
You will be able to find out more about John Ruskin, Cannon Rawnsley and Beatrix Potter in other articles about the people of the Lake District.
You can also find out more about John Ruskin and visit his home in Coniston on our Ruskin, The Pre-Raphaelites and the Arts & Crafts tour .
Alternatively you can create your own Personal Lake District Experience tour .