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These are a few of our favourite things: The Ruskin Monument at Friar’s Crag, Derwentwater

John Ruskin Memorial Friar's Crag Derwentwater Lake District
The Ruskin Monument in its woodland setting at Friar’s Crag, Derwentwater.  Photo: Keswick Launch Co.

The art critic and social reformer John Ruskin wrote of Friars Crag:

“The first thing that I remember as an event in life was being taken by my nurse to the brow of Friars’ Crag, Derwentwater. The intense joy mingled with awe that I had in looking through the hollows in the mossy roots over the crag into the dark lake has associated itself more or less with all twining roots of trees ever since”.

John Ruskin Monument Friar's Crag Derwentwater
Ruskin’s first memory was of Friar’s Crag at Derwentwater in the northern lakes.

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”.

Friar's Crag Derwentwater John Ruskin
The view of Derwentwater from Friar’s Crag showing tree roots which so impressed themselves onto Ruskin’s childhood memory.

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.

John Ruskin Monument Friar's Crag Derwentwater inscription
The inscription on the reverse of the Ruskin Monument at Friar’s Crag.

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.

Beatrix Potter Cannon Hardwick Drummomd Rawnsley
Beatrix Potter met Cannon Harwick Rawnsley and his son when she was a teenager on holiday in the Lake District in 1867.          © National Trust / Robert Thrift

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.

John Ruskin Friar's Crag Derwentwater Brantwood Coniston
John Ruskin as a young man. His philosophy and writing is still hugely relevant to modern thinking.

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.

John Ruskin Monument Friar's Crag Derwentwater
John Ruskin, 1919-1900.                                 Photo credit National Trust Jo Cornish

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 visit Friar’s Crag on our full and half day scenic tours .

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 .