January 20, 2023
A Centenary Collection
Activities and opportunities to see and enjoy more around you – for yourself and/or your students.
In honor of this Centenary year celebrating 100 years of Charlotte Mason's life and legacy, you'll find readings and activities below (for yourself or your students) all centered around Charlotte Mason and her home at Ambleside in the Lake District. Our aim is that you would enjoy these activities and also gain a sense of the context in which Charlotte lived and worked. You might even consider drawing a map of some of the places mentioned or jotting down a few of the people in your Book of Centuries.
Beatrix Potter was born in 1866, about 20 years after Charlotte Mason, and published her first book for children, "A Tale of Peter Rabbit" in 1902, which many continue to consider "living" according to Miss Mason's definition. Her house, Hill-Top, is just about 7 miles south of Mason's House of Education, and the Armitt Library and Museum houses a large collection of Beatrix Potter's work and artifacts. If you'll be in Ambleside, perhaps for the Centenary Conference, you may want to visit both places!
In her recollections published shortly after Mason's death, Helen Webb recalls riding around to Grasmere (about 5 miles from Ambleside) with Charlotte Mason and buying gingerbread at Sarah Nelson's shop (toward the end of her life when Miss Mason was often sick, she still took daily drives in the neighborhood). ("A Few Recollections" from Parents' Review Vol. 34, p.221). That gingerbread shop has continued baking Sarah's recipe and still exists today. Although the official recipe is a secret and locked away, try making a version of the gingerbread and consider buying some of the original recipe if you're in town this year.
Grasmere was the home of not only Sarah Nelson's famous gingerbread but famous poet William Wordsworth as well just a few decades earlier. Charlotte Mason had a love for poetry, writing six completed volumes herself and including it as a subject within the curriculum from early grades. Her love of poetry is unsurprising considering the beautiful scenery of the Lake District and the literary atmosphere of poets such as Wordsworth (d. 1850) nearby. Wordsworth's poem "I wandered lonely as a cloud" is sometimes considered the "quintessential Lake District poem."
Although the Lake District features many famous authors and poets, Charlotte Mason was also surrounded by others interested in science, art, and the natural world. The Armitt sisters (the museum's namesake), especially, have a large presence throughout the Parents' Review (the journal for which Mason served as editor), publishing articles on the local birds, winter buds, seeds, seasons, and an article with the intriguing name "Irritability in Plants" (Parents' Review, Vol. 7 p.521).
- Take a nature walk and use all your senses. Mark down a few things you smelled, touched, heard, saw, or even tasted (if safe).
Frederic Yates is known in the Charlotte Mason community as the artist who painted the iconic portrait of Charlotte Mason. Look at some of his other portraits as well (especially those of the Armitt sisters mentioned above!). How would you describe his style to a friend?
Alfred Heaton Cooper was another famous Lake District Artist who painted many local landscapes. Enjoy this one of Lake Windermere, the largest natural lake in England.
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