Hardwicke Drummond Rawnsley, my great-grandfather, remains a name to be conjured with in the English Lake District, where he did so much to ensure the conservation of the landscape for posterity. As a prime mover, however, in the foundation of the National Trust, of which he was the active Hon. Secretary for 25 years until his death in 1920, he is not so widely known.
Hardwicke was born in 1851 into an ecclesiastical family at Shiplake-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, where his father Drummond was Vicar. In 1862 Drummond Rawnsley took up the living of Halton Holgate in Lincolnshire where his father had been vicar since 1825. The Rawnsley family had first become associated with Lincolnshire in the late eighteenth century when Hardwicke's great-grandfather had moved there from Yorkshire. Educated at Uppingham, where he came under the influence of Edward Thring, his godfather, Hardwicke completed his education at Balliol College, Oxford, where he was to begin a lifelong friendship with John Ruskin. In due course Hardwicke became the third generation to be ordained priest in the Church of England.
A man of extraordinary energy, he devoted his life to improving the welfare of those less fortunate. As a County Councillor in Cumberland he fought hard to extend education to a wider community and to bring about improvements in public health. He was a strong advocate of the Temperance Movement to combat the evils of drink. He masterminded campaigns against the despoliation of the Lake District by indiscriminate railway construction and mining operations. An active campaigner for the Open Spaces movement, he did much to ensure that public rights of way in the Lake District remained open.
With his wife Edith, Hardwicke founded the Keswick School of Industrial Arts, which, contrary to contemporary expectation, became self-supporting and was to remain in activity for exactly a hundred years. The aim of the KSIA was to teach new skills to members of the local community, to alleviate unemployment, and to put into practice John Ruskin's theory of the importance of reviving local craft industries in an age of factory mass-production.
In the midst of all this untiring activity, Hardwicke was incumbent of St. Kentigern's Church, Crosthwaite in Keswick for 34 years, a Canon of Carlisle Cathedral, and Honorary Chaplain to King George V. He published some 40 books, including biographies, travel guides and accounts of archaeological excavations. He published several volumes of poetry and wrote hundreds of sonnets.
After Edith's death, Hardwicke married a long-time family friend, Eleanor Simpson. At the instigation of his friends she wrote the only biography of her husband to date. Along with the National Trust, Eleanor did much to keep Hardwicke's memory alive.
It is hoped that this website devoted to his life and work will go some way to bringing Canon Rawnsley the belated national recognition which he so richly deserves.