Mirehouse is just three miles from Keswick and was built in 1666 for the 8th Earl of Derby. It has strong links with English poets and artists and it’s now owned by the Spedding family, who live there.
Mirehouse has only been sold once in its lifetime, in 1688, hardly 25 years after it was built. The 8th Earl of Derby sold it to his agent, Roger Gregg, whose family owned it until it was given to John Spedding of Armathwaite Hall in 1802. It started out as a small house but new bays and a dining room were added in 1790 and the south side of the house was demolished in 1832 to make room for new and higher rooms. A servants’ wing and half-timbered chapel were added in the 1880s, but the chapel hasn’t survived and was knocked down in the 1960s due to dry rot.
James Spenning, who died in 1881, was very friendly with a number of English poets and writers, including Lord Alfred Tennyson and Sir Francis Bacon. Tennyson brought his wife here for their honeymoon and dedicated two poems to Spenning, ‘To JS’ and 'Dear Friend’. Other family friends included William Wordsworth, John Constable and the historian-essayist Thomas Carlyle. You can see some of their letters on display in the Drawing Room.
The pink-painted Music Room and Little Drawing Room have family portraits, including one painted by John Constable, giving you a glimpse into the life of the ladies of the house through their sewing-baskets. You can stop and read a magazine here, or listen to live piano music played throughout the house. The Victorian schoolroom and nursery has toys and quizzes for children, and there are four woodland playgrounds as well as a free family nature trail, Bee Garden and Poetry Walk.