Log in

An Unwalled University

Charlotte Mason Institute’s English Lake District Retreat

The Afternoon of 30 April - the Morning of 4 May 2018

St. Mary’s Church, Ambleside, England, UK

Wordsworth referred to the Lake District as “An unwalled university all dedicated to plain living and high thinking.”  Come join us at the 2018 English Lake District Retreat as we share a time of learning more about Charlotte Mason. And, join us as we enjoy the “unwalled university” through exploring the towns of Ambleside, Grasmere, Rydal, and the lush green country lanes, gardens and fells (hills) around where Mason lived from 1890 until her death in 1923.  Imagine yourself taking her daily horse carriage ride through country roads observing the birds, flowers, and the changing of the seasons. But most of all imagine yourself enjoying the tranquility of the Lake District and the contentment of being with others interested in learning more about this amazing educator.

We welcome Malcolm Guite, poet, musician, and authority on Coleridge (and others) as our keynote speaker.  The Rev’d Dr. Guite will provide several sessions including learning how to read and enjoy poetry, singing and more.  We will also enjoy Dr. Rachel Johnson sharing with us her study on Mason’s idea of living books through the works of George MacDonald and G. A. Henty.  You will also experience sessions designed to reflect conferences at the House of Education attended by teachers who had graduated.   

There will be time for visits to the Armitt Gallery Museum and Library where you can explore the Mason Archive.  Through the helpful assistance of the Armitt Curator, Deborah Walsh and the Armitt Trustees we will enjoy a reception late Monday afternoon, 30 April 2018 at the Armitt. Following this time at the Armitt we will walk up the lane and enjoy a time of singing and poetry with Malcolm Guite on the campus of the House of Education and what is now the University of Cumbria.

There will be excursions including hikes, nature walks with naturalists and more.  

Sessions will be held at St. Mary’s Church in Ambleside.  Visit St. Mary’s on the Internet here:  St. Mary’s.  

Retreat Sessions

Retreat Speakers

Preparing for the Retreat

How can you prepare for the retreat?  Here are a few ideas.

1.  Use your search engine and read about the Lake District online.  Along with Charlotte Mason, the heritage of the Lake District is filled with interesting people to know better:  Beatrix Potter, John Ruskin, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the Armitt Sisters, Matthew Arnold to mention only a few.

2.  Reread The Story of Charlotte Mason or Margaret Coombs’ book:  Charlotte Mason:  Hidden Heritage and Education Influence.

3. Read more about Malcolm Guite at malcolmguite.com.

4.  Read Dr. Guite’s new book on Coleridge: Mariner: A Voyage with Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  

5.  Dr. Guite has requested that attendees bring two poems with them to this retreat:  1) a poem you love and 2) a poem you do not understand but would like to.

Starting to think about a packing list? Here are some suggestions for items to bring to help you stay dry and comfortable:

1.  Light weight, compact umbrella

2.  Water repellent/water proof spring jacket (not too short) with attached hood

3.  Water repellent/water proof rain pants to pull over regular pants 

4.  Sturdy, comfortable hiking footwear for rugged, uneven, and natural terrain

5.  Comfortable footwear for walking in town and attending classes/sessions/seminars

6.  Good socks

7.  Lightweight knapsack with lots of pockets, and spots for water bottle, umbrella, etc

8.  Waterproof hat

Other items to consider:

1.  Hiker's walking stick (or two) (light weight and collapsible, sized to fit in checked luggage)
2.  Notebook(s), pens, pencils, etc.

Visit the church where Mason attended and where we met once during our 2016 retreat.

Registration Fees

Early Bird Registration Fee - $399.90 - 26 October - 15 April 2018- includes lunch and supper meals, all snacks and Monday evening reception.

Early Bird Registration Fee for Mason's Alveary and Institute Supporters - $359.90.

Spousal/Student Early Bird Registration Fee - $149.95 - This registration is intended for spouses and students who wish to hike and enjoy the Lake District, enjoy the meals, attend Monday's receptions and occasionally attend a session.  If spouse or student desire to be a full-time attendee, he or she will need to pay the regular registration fee. Ends 15 April 2018

This registration is intended for spouses who wish to hike and enjoy the Lake District, enjoy the meals, attend Monday's receptions and occasionally attend a session.  If spouse desires to be a full-time attendee, he or she will need to pay the regular registration fee.

Regular Registration Fee - $449.95 16 April - 30 April 2018.

Regular Spousal Fee - $199.95 - 16 April - 30 April 2018.

Teen/College Student Fee - $299.00 until 30 April 2018.  This registration is for  teens from the age of 12 to 22 (to include college students).  College students need to provide proof of being in college. (Has no date cut-off.)


All meals and snacks are provided in the registration fee.

Breakfast is on your own.

Lunch and Supper will be provided on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  We have designed these times together for discussion and a sense of community. For that purpose we have hired an English caterer named “Cracking Spread” from Ambleside.  They will be creating special meals for our conference which include lunches, featuring soups, salads, sandwiches and English desserts.  Chef Adelle is designing dinners to reflect the English countryside and Lake District local fare.

Crackling Spread will have tea, coffee, fruit juice, spring water and snacks flowing throughout the day, while you are learning and enjoying the sessions.

Malcolm’s desire is for all of us to join with him over meals and to continue the flow and intimacy of the experience which has been created via the discussions.

No noonday meal will be provided on Friday, 4 May. However snacks will be provided for the morning.


There are various places in Ambleside to lodge.  The Lake District is one of England’s primary vacation spots.  This means that there are lots of places to lodge, but it also means you need to reserve a place as soon as you can.  The link below is to one hotel who has offered a special rate for those attending the Charlotte Mason Institute Retreat.  Be sure to mention our name.

Link:  The Fisherbeck

Just in case you need to know:  We contact businesses and people in England through Skype.  It is cheaper.

For more lodging options, simply do an Internet search and you will find a number of rental agencies in Ambleside.  St. Mary’s, where the daily sessions will be held, is in Ambleside.  If you get your lodgings in Ambleside you should be within walking distance of St. Mary’s.  Of course some places will be farther than others.  We suggest that you ask the place you contact for lodging to tell you the distance to St. Mary’s Anglican Church in Ambleside.  Here is the link to the church:  St. Mary’s.  You will notice that Ambleside and Brathay Church are in the same parish.  The sessions will be held at St. Mary’s.


You can cancel your registration up to 1 April 2018.  There will be a 20% cancellation fee.  The 20% cancellation fee will be based on the registration fee and any meals for which you paid. 

Once you have paid your registration fee you will be connected to our English Lake District Facebook page.  There you can share ideas, ask questions and learn more from those who attended in 2016.

Register Here

View Conference Schedule

for April 30 - May 4, 2018

Click Here

At our first retreat we were in Rydal, England


P.O. Box 20571
Roanoke, VA 24018
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software