The Life and Times of John Ruskin in the Lake District

The Life and Times of John Ruskin in the Lake District

John Ruskin was born in London in 1819 and spent most of his life in the Lake District at Brantwood, Cumbria.

The son of a wealthy sherry importer, Ruskin was encouraged to take up painting and poetry from a young age. Ruskin was educated at home and at Oxford, where he was influenced by the sciences, and where he first became interested in architecture.

If you are planning to follow in the footsteps of John Ruskin, why not book a few nights away in a Windermere spa hotel? Ruskin married Effie Gray when he was 29, but the marriage ended after 6 years, and was never consummated. To get over the heartbreak of his loveless marriage, the artist buried himself in work, and embarked on a lengthy study of Venice, with particular attention paid to the art and architecture of the famous city. He produced a 3-volume study about Venice.

Ruskin became interested in social justice, and began to influence the shape of society through his writing.

He fell in love with Rose la Touche, who sadly died aged 29, and he carried his feelings for her for the rest of his life. After Ruskin´s father died, the social reformer became a wealthy man. He became Professor or Art at Oxford and was an increasingly radical voice in Victorian Britain.

Aged 59, Ruskin suffered his first of several breakdowns. He died in 1900 at the age of 81, leaving behind him 39 volumes of writings, thousands of drawings and watercolours and a legacy of influence which is still felt today.

John Ruskin in the Lake District

Stretching from Frank Lloyd Wright to Mahatma Gandhi, Ruskin spoke up for the welfare state and was a huge influence on the founders of the National Health Service, the opening of public libraries and the National Trust. His influence also reached abroad, and he encouraged women´s education in many under-developed countries, the abolition of child labour and environmental protection.

Ruskin was also an artist who never exhibited his work professionally, but used his talent as a form of escapism and to communicate his discoveries.

Collections are permanently on display in his former home, Brantwood, and Lancaster University is home to the world´s largest archive of Ruskin material.


The former home of John Ruskin, Brantwood enjoys one of the most stunning locations in the Lake District – overlooking Coniston Water. The house has great historical importance, and is a lively centre of the arts – with over 30,000 visitors a year.

If you decide to base yourself in Windermere, you will find a wealth of attractions, plus spa hotels, boutique hotels and hot tub hotels. Coniston is just 8 miles away and is easily accessible by public transport or car, making it easy to find out about John Ruskin in the Lake District

Activities at Brantwood reflect the wealth of cultural associations associated with the Ruskin legacy. The house is filled with paintings, furniture and personal memorabilia from the artist´s life in the Lake District.

Visitors to Brantwood are introduced to Ruskin´s world by an introductory video and can walk around seven historical rooms. Younger visitors are also well catered for with a range of activity sheets and quizzes to keep them entertained.

If you’re looking to find out more about the Life and Times of John Ruskin in the Lake District, check into a Windermere Spa Hotel.

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