In this post I will be focusing on “Buttermere Reflection” by Nigel Wilkins.
Buttermere is one of the smaller lakes in the Lake District but that doesn’t stop it having its own literary story: In particular, Buttermere Village which lies between Buttermere Lake and Crummock Water.
In the 1700-1800s a woman named Mary Robinson graced the village as a shepherdess and daughter of a landlord who owned the Fish Inn (which can still be found there). In 1802, Mary married bigamously (she was already married at the time) to John Hatfield, a man who claimed to be rich. The marriage of this local beauty spread around as she was now supposedly married to the brother of an earl. Among reporters of Mary’s new partnership was none other than famous poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge who wrote a piece for The Morning Post.
Mary Robinson became known as the “maid of Buttermere” and has been mentioned in many fictional works such as “The Prelude” by English Romantic Poet William Wordsworth in which he refers to her as an “artless daughter of the hills’ of modest mien/ And carriage marked by unexampled grace.” She gained most of her fame in 1792 when Joseph Budworth mentioned her and her physical charm in guidebook “A Fortnight’s Ramble to the Lakes in Westmoreland, Lancashire and Cumberland.”
This seemingly everyday woman went from anonymity to a high level of popularity over the space of a few years and rose to even greater heights when it turned out that her rich husband actually had no titles or wealth at all.
Nevertheless, the village of Buttermere has become a very popular tourist location for this exact story.