The Armitt

Location : Ambleside

Rydal Rd, Ambleside, Cumbria. LA22 9BL. Tel: 015394 31212 / [email protected]


image of the exterior of the armitt museum in ambleside in the lake district
The Armitt Museum, Ambleside, South Lakes

The Armitt is a new purpose built home for the Mary Armitt Collection – a collection of books, manuscripts, water-colours, archaeological remains, geological specimens and assorted paraphernalia.


The Armitt Library was founded in accordance with the will of Mary Louise Armitt and the wishes of her two sisters, ‘to create a collection of books of scientific, literary and antiquarian value’ for the ‘student and book-lover’, and eventually a small museum. It was opened in 1912, and embodied the old 1828 Ambleside Book Society, of which William Wordsworth had been a member, and the Ambleside Ruskin Library, founded by Hardwicke Rawnsley in 1882 with the active support of John Ruskin.


There is an exhibition space containing a variety of interactive experiences, and a reference library containing the collection of rare books.


An area is devoted to Beatrix Potter, with her desk just as she would have used it to paint her water-colour pictures, and the surrounding walls displaying for the first time some of her natural history water-colours. In 1934 Beatrix gave many of her watercolours and drawings of fungi, mosses and fossils to the Armitt Library. She had become a member on her marriage to William Heelis in 1913, and he was their solicitor since it was established in 1912.


an image of a bust of John Ruskin at the Armitt museum in the lake district
John Ruskin by Barbara Collingwood

The landscape photographs of Herbert Bell are superimposed on a birdseye view of the Lakes, and when you touch the picture you are interested in you are transported over the Lake District to the place where it was taken.


You can talk to John Ruskin, meet the Collingwoods, and view the Cabinet of Curiosities – a collection of unrelated objects gathered from Neolithic times to yesterday.


At the beginning of the 20th Century, the Armitt sisters lived at Rydal Cottage, next to Rydal Church. Here they enjoyed the company of many artists and writers, including John Ruskin, Browning and the Arnolds, who lived nearby.

2020 opening times:
(April-October) – Tuesday-Saturday 10.00 – 17.00 (last admission 16.30).
(November-March) – Tuesday-Saturday 10.30 – 16.00 (last admission 15.30).
2020 admission fees:
Adults – £5.00
Children (under 16) – FREE
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Grid Ref : SD 375047