The new Jerwood Centre, devoted to Wordsworth's life in the Lake District, is both radical and conservative - a bit like the poet himself - Jonathan Glancey, The Guardian, 2005
Fifteen years ago, on 2nd June 2005, the poet and Nobel Laureate, Seamus Heaney (1939-2013) officially opened the Jerwood Centre close to Dove Cottage, the former home of the poet William Wordsworth in Grasmere.
Designed by Benson & Forsyth with Napper Architects to echo the shape of a Lakeland 'long barn', the Jerwood Centre is recognised as an impressive example of how modern architecture can co-exist with traditional buildings. It is the thirteenth of eighteen capital projects funded by the Jerwood Foundation between 1998-2012.
Constructed using traditional lakeland materials, the three-storey building provides climate-controlled conditions to house the Trust's globally significant research collection, including 64,000 manuscripts, paintings, books and memorabilia relating to the great British Romantic poets and includes Wordsworth's own library.
Reflecting on the role of the Jerwood Centre fifteen years on, Michael McGregor, Director, The Wordsworth Trust, said:
"It is hard to imagine how we ever managed without the Jerwood Centre. The days when researchers had to squeeze themselves between overflowing shelves in a cramped barn now seem from another era. Since 2005, the Jerwood Centre has accommodated over 3,000 research visits from all over the world, but it has also been in almost daily use as a venue for conferences, talks, poetry readings and workshops, and as a classroom for international university groups.
Without the Jerwood Centre, the Wordsworth archive would probably have had to have left the Lake District, and the Wordsworth Trust would be far less active as an organisation."
Jerwood Centre, Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere. Photo:Charlotte Wood