The National Trust and The Armitt announce Bridge House in Ambleside is to reopen this year in the first stage of an exciting cultural collaboration.
Little Bridge House is one of the Lake District’s most famous and treasured sites, and subject of countless holiday photographs. Standing proudly over Stock Beck in the heart of Ambleside, the tiny house on the bridge has been used as an apple store, a cobbler’s and at one time was home to a family of eight. Last open to visitors in 2019, the National Trust and The Armitt are working together to welcome people back to Bridge House in 2022.
Over the years, Bridge House has provided inspiration for many artists, including J.M.W. Turner, and it was from the steps of the bridge that an impoverished refugee, the now-famous German artist Kurt Schwitters, sold his work to passing trade as the Second World War drew to a close. His defining painting of the quirky house is now part of The Armitt’s collection.
The two charities have outlined their commitment to work together to celebrate and protect the cultural history of the central Lake District and they are asking for support from the community to achieve this ambition.
Tim Cowen, Chair of the Board of Trustees for The Armitt, says:
“The Armitt is delighted to help open Bridge House in Ambleside to the public and to partner with the National Trust in expanding cultural development. Part of The Armitt’s vision is to share the histories and stories of people and places in the Lake District to as wide an audience as possible. There is no more recognisable building in the Lakes than our neighbouring, iconic, “little house on the bridge”, which fits perfectly with our aspiration. We’re seeking volunteers, friends, and supporters to join us in this exciting joint project. We look forward to working closely with the National Trust.”
The partners intend to work together to celebrate and conserve local culture following the work of their shared benefactors, including Beatrix Potter who’s concern for nature and community remain central to the ambitions of both the National Trust and The Armitt.
As part of her astonishing legacy, Beatrix Potter left her fungi drawings to The Armitt and 30,000 acres of land and 15 farms to the National Trust. The Armitt’s fungi drawings can be seen on display at the Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature exhibition at the V&A Museum in London, alongside many items belonging to the National Trust from the collections at Hill Top and the Beatrix Potter Gallery.
The new cultural collaboration between the National Trust and The Armitt has started strong with historic farming photographs of Langdale from The Armitt’s archives currently on show at the National Trust’s Sticklebarn, with plans to further extend the display over the summer as part of a three-year farming programme. These rarely displayed photographs, showing traditional rural life, have been enlarged and shown to a new audience to celebrate the proud farming heritage of the Langdale valley.
Laura Ruxton, General Manager for National Trust Central & East Lakes says:
‘By working in partnership with The Armitt, we hope to further share the fascinating history of the Lake District with everyone, and to preserve and conserve buildings like Bridge House for the future. Bridge House has always played a special place in people’s hearts. It was purchased by the local community in 1926 and given to the National Trust and now we’d love for the local community to get involved and join us in making this partnership a success so we can best tell the stories of the places that matter to us.’
The National Trust and The Armitt are calling for members of the local community, as well as visitors with an interest in celebrating and preserving the cultural history of the Lake District, to get involved with the project to reopen Bridge House, through volunteering, research and fundraising by emailing The Armitt on firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 015394 31212.