Grid Ref: NY 230323
Bassenthwaite is a small village not far from Bassenthwaite Lake, under the shadow of the Skiddaw massif. Containing just a single pub and no shop actually within the village, it is largely an agricultural community, with two farms within the village itself, with a number of holiday homes. It contains many elements of the archetypal English village including a green, primary school, church and a stream running through it. On the outskirts of the village are several grand houses. There is however a shop on the outskirts of the village at the Caravan site and fresh free range chicken and duck eggs can be bought from Bassenthwaite Hall Farm in the centre of the village.
Bassenfell Manor was built in 1848 by William Rathbone, a Member of Parliament and successful international trader. Since being sold by the Rathbone family around 1910, the Manor has served as a hotel, school and old peoples home. The Manor was purchased by the Christian Outdoor Pursuits Trust in 1983 and developed as a centre to promote the Christian Faith through involvement in character building training by means of outdoor pursuits.
Armathwaite Hall is a castellated Victorian ‘Tudor’ mansion, built in 1881, and the former home of the Spedding and Vane families. It is now a hotel set in 400 acres of deer park and woodland. Next to Armathwaite Hall and owned by the same family, is Trotters World of Animals, where you can see many domestic and more exotic animals, most in natural open enclosures.
Further south is Mirehouse, a remarkable historic house and gardens facing Bassenthwaite Lake, with Dodd Wood and Skiddaw at the rear. The gardens contain adventure playgrounds, varied sheltered gardens to amble around, and lakeside walks through woods and parks. The house has a wide range of literary and artistic connections, including portraits and manuscripts of three poet laureates – Southey, Wordsworth and Tennyson. It was originally built in 1666, and bought by the Spedding family in late Georgian times.
Within the Mirehouse grounds is the little church of St. Bega, dating from pre-Norman times and well worth walking across the fields to see. The village also has the more modern St John’s Church, built in 1879.
Near to the north end of Bassenthwaite Lake is The Lakes Distillery, opened in December 2014 and producing artisan whisky, gin and vodka. There is a visitor centre with distillery tours, and a bistro.