Ambleside 2014: Fairfield and Springfield

I hope you haven't tired of my reports from the Lake District.  I have a few left to share.  It has been challenging to find the time to post here.

Very soon,  the Living Education Retreat takes place out on the prairie.  I am so thankful for my five friends that give so generously of their lives and experience in order to help others more fully understand this philosophy of education.  Part of the key to our retreat is the atmosphere, no doubt. 

When we visited Ambleside, it helped me realize why she chose this place to train her teachers.  The buildings, the hiking paths, the lakes, the flowers,  the villages, the people all make for a reflective and peaceful atmosphere.

One of the first four college students at Mason's House of Education was Violet Parker. Her account of the beginnings at the college can be found in The Story of Charlotte Mason.  She states:
We were at Fairfield House for three months, then when Springfield became vacant either Miss Mason or my mother took it...at Springfield Miss Mason's room was the large one at the top of the stairs on the right.
Imagine our thrill when we stumbled upon this building which is right across from Scale How (the building her college was eventually located in.) First Fairfield  housed the House of Education college students, then it apparently became a PNEU school.


note the motto
All these buildings we would stroll by daily on our way into town from our cottage with the twinkling Lake Windermere in the distance.  The slate, which is mined in the area, made for such unique and beautiful buildings, I think.

So they moved the college from Fairfield to Springfield, which was right off the same road. When we were there, Springfield was all boarded up, but occasionally a young man was spotted working around the building.  A member of our party struck up a conversation with him and learned that yes, he had purchased the building and was in the process of completely renovating the neglected property in hopes of eventually moving his family there.  Our friend then politely described the significance of Springfield to those of us engaged in bringing the Mason philosophy to others.  This young man graciously took us on a detailed tour of the renovations, including the large bedroom at the top of the stairs to the right.  It definitely had the best view of the garden (not the yard, as we Americans say.)


Guess whose room was at the top to the right!

found in the wall at Springfield
You might not live in the Lake District or even on the prairie.  And while we know that by atmosphere she meant much more than just the physical surroundings, I now understand what the beautiful scenery can do for a soul. I live in a small town myself but look forward to the times I can take my family someplace scenic. 

In Charlotte Mason's (and Wordsworth's) words - 

It would be difficult to overrate this habit of seeing and storing as a means of after-solace and refreshment. The busiest of us have holidays when we slip our necks out of the yoke and come face to face with Nature, to be healed and blessed by
     "The breathing balm,
     The silence and the calm
     Of mute, insensate things."
- Mason, Vol. 1, p. 50

May all your goings be graces,


  1. I love hearing and seeing about your trip! Keep on.

  2. What a glorious time you had! Thank you for sharing with us.

  3. Thanks for the description of the Lake District, and especially this area that I'm curious about. Please continue sharing.

  4. I love these posts about your travels! It is incredible to see your pictures of these places, and think about all that went on there.

    Your comments about what beautiful scenery can do for a soul reminds me of what I think every time I head back home after visiting with friends in the city. Where we live can feel isolated (over an hour to the nearest city, 15 min to the nearest town, 20 min to the grocery store, etc) and sometimes on that long drive home I wonder, "is this worth it?" Then I stand at my kitchen sink and gaze out at the pines and oaks and think, "yes, yes it is. I am so blessed to live here."

  5. I love seeing pictures of you and your beloved and hearing about your trip!

  6. Nancy, I love hearing about your trip! Please keep an occasional posting about it; I will not grow weary listening:-) Kerstin

  7. definitely share more! I am enjoying every bit you write about your trip :)

  8. Oh yes, we are all enjoying the photos and notes from your trip! We bought our current townhouse seven years ago even when we knew the space would soon be outgrown with our growing family, but it was the park-like scenery and river behind our fenced yard that convinced us to buy here. Now that we have been looking at selling (for the last 2 years or so) and moving to have a little more property and home, it is the scenery that keeps us here. I take photos almost once a day of our beautiful surroundings because I can't help myself. God's creation is so beautiful. I recently wrote a short post while visiting and helping at my parents house in PA about how much scenery and creation nourishes my soul. Thank you for sharing these posts with us.

  9. Oh Nancy, what a glorious journey! My husband and I are living vicariously through you ;) And you're such a teaser -- showing us the stairs leading to CM's room........love it! So sorry I missed seeing you in Pigeon Forge -- maybe next year at LER? A girl can dream........