Friends of Ruskin's Brantwood

Friends of Brantwood

The Friends of Ruskin’s Brantwood was launched on April 12th 1990 by a group of dedicated supporters of the house, who met together with the aim of spreading the word of what was being achieved towards refurbishing and developing the house, to volunteer their time, and to help fund future projects. By joining The Friends you help to continue that support. In exchange, Friends receive complimentary admission to Brantwood during public opening hours, half price admission for accompanying guests, discounts in the bookshop, The Terrace Coffee House, use of the Friends Library for study, as well as regular newsletters.

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Text FORB10 £10 to 70070 to donate to The Friends of Ruskin’s Brantwood.

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We thought you may like to see one of the many tributes paid to Sally, our head gardener, who sadly died in June this year.

Sally Beamish, a Tribute
By David Ingram, Brantwood, 4th August 2018

‘Visitor, if you seek her Monument, look around you’, to paraphrase the epitaph to Sir Christopher Wren in St Paul’s Cathedral; nothing could be more appropriate as an Epitaph for Sally Beamish.  To re-discover and re-imagine these woodlands on the hill above us, and John Ruskin’s and Joan Severn’s gardens set like jewels within them, as Sally did, very special qualities were needed: vision, courage, a sense of humour, drive, energy, horticultural skill and panache! But even more was needed too: a sense of time – of history; and the ability to work as part of a team, a team that she led and she inspired.

Let us think about the Team first, for nothing could have been achieved without them, and Sally knew and
understood this, it was one of her many strengths.  Those that I have worked with are: Howard Hull, inspired, sensitive and artistic Director of Brantwood, Sally’s manager who had the vision to give her ‘her head’ and was a constant source of ideas and encouragement; Ruth and Dave Charles, gifted horticulturists; and Peter Wright, Woodsman exraordinaire; all, like Sally, dedicated to this special place.

Also in the Team were: the Staff of the House, the many volunteers, past and present, and the garden staff in the past, before the present Team. All these people, dedicated to Brantwood too, are too numerous to mention by name today, but they are not forgotten.  The Team was and is special because although the members all loved Sally, they did not always agree with her and were not afraid to say so, but all, like Sally, were willing to share ideas and to find the best way forward, together.

The second of Sally’s extra qualities I mentioned at the beginning was a sense of time, a sense of history, linked I would add now with the scholastic skills to study that history and the insight to recognize her place as part of it: first the monks of Furness abbey; then the generations of farmers and others working the ‘hillside’ and the woods; next W.J. Linton, socialist publisher and botanist; John Ruskin followed by Joan Severn, his cousin, then chatelaine of Brantwood and later his carer; and finally, until Sally came along, ‘nature’ herself, who reclaimed Brantwood as her own after Joan’s death.  To follow and understand all who came before her, Sally needed to share their ideals: respect for the landscape and for the animals and plants that inhabit it; and like Ruskin, a deep respect for people, whatever their background or social standing. In short, Sally was in tune with the past, the present and the landscape.

But the story does not end there, for there is a future too. The evolution of Brantwood, this special place, will not stop because Sally, although with us in spirit, is no longer with us in person. Sally knew and understood this too. The present Team, and all the Teams who come after Sally, will take her dreams, and their dreams forward into the future.  Perhaps we should think of it as a dance; a dance in which the dancers come and go as time passes, in which the tune and the tempo change, sometimes fast, sometimes slow, but in which the dance itself goes on for ever and ever. Sally Beamish – or ‘our Sally’, as they might say in these parts – knew and understood this, as indeed she knew and understood so many things, and we salute this truly remarkable woman for these and all her other wonderful qualities today.

Introducing the learning loft project at Brantwood

Anita Abrams, one of the Friends of Ruskin’s Brantwood, a former special needs teacher who has seen the dramatic successes of former pupils graduating from University, has developed, with the help of some earlier grant funding, a pilot project to bring students from Barrow-in-Furness to Brantwood. This project is designed to take students away from the technology in their classroom learning environments by connecting them to the 3D natural World to inspire creativity and independent thought through the eyes of John Ruskin. Many of these students will not have been outside of Barrow.  Being given an opportunity to explore the natural world in this particular environment, we believe could be a life changing experience for the students.

To fund the first three groups of 75 pupils, Anita has already raised £954 of the initial £1154 cost through the generosity of a few individuals and the Friends. Once the initial outlay for content and materials is in place, it is hoped that more students from other areas will be able to take advantage of this programme. Whilst Brantwood will not receive any money from this project, it is just the sort of thing that Ruskin would be doing if here today.

Brantwood is an independent registered charity - The Brantwood Trust Coniston Cumbria LA21 8AD enquiries@brantwood.org.uk Telephone: 015394 41396 Fax: 015394 41263