The Armitt Library

The Armitt Museum & Library Founded 1912 (incorporating Ambleside Book Society, founded 1828)


The Armitt is a unique place combining museum, gallery and library. It was founded by Mary Louisa Armitt to celebrate the remarkable flowering of intellectual and artistic pursuits associated with Ambleside and its locale; an area where landscape and culture are inextricably entwined. It encapsulates all that is best about Lakeland and its people and preserves that essence for future generations to enjoy. The Lake District has attracted and held some remarkable talents: William Wordsworth, Thomas de Quincey, Robert Southey, John Ruskin, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Beatrix Potter and the internationally renowned modernist artist Kurt Schwitters, all of whom are now household names. But there are others, less well known now but who made a profound impact in their day: the political economist and social reformer Harriet Martineau, the pioneering educationalist Charlotte Mason, the brilliant Collingwoods, father and son, Hardwicke Rawnsley poet, conservationist and co-founder of the National Trust and the learned Armitt sisters after one of whom, Mary Louisa Armitt, Ambleside's Museum and Library is named. Many of these people are commemorated here at the Armitt, a living memorial to the lives and labours of theis remarkable community.


The library of over 11,000 books covers the social and natural history of the Lake District and particularly of the area around Ambleside. The intellectual life of the area is reflected in works by Wordsworth, Harriet Martineau, Ruskin, the Armitt sisters, Charlotte Mason and many others. There is an excellent collection of early guides to the Lakes, an impressive holding of etchings by William Green, over 300 natural history watercolours by Beatrix Potter and an extensive collection of local photographs by Herbert Bell. The museum holds the artifacts from the local Roman fort and is developing its archive of material relating to the artist Kurt Schwitters.


The building of local stone and slate was designed by Hutchinson Associates and was built by Lowther Construction in 1997. It is situated in the grounds of St Martin's College (formerly Charlotte Mason College) within the Ambleside conservation area.


Deborah Walsh, Curator
Rydal Road, Ambleside, Cumbria LA22 9BL
tel: 01539 431 212 / email:

Monday to Saturday 10.00-17.00
Membership not required, fee (small).

Open to all, consultation of manuscript or original art work by appointment only



Registered charity no 1054762