For many years women used the porch, from where the cottage gets its name, to weave and sew.
In fact the 300 year old, Grade 2 Listed cottage retains the rights to wash linen in the River Greta which runs parallel to it.
John Ruskin brought hand spinning and weaving teacher Marian Twelves to Keswick from Langdale soon after the Keswick School of Industrial Arts was established. She quickly shared her expertise with local women and ‘Ruskin Lace’ was born. This little cottage industry grew successfully and soon exported all over the world.
The porch from which the cottage takes its name is described as having a fine example of a ‘spinners’ porch in the book ‘The Ruskin Linen Industry of Keswick’ by Frederick A Benjamin.
Porch Cottage was the showroom, office and living quarters for the spinners. Next door, Ruskin Cottage was home to the weaving room and hand loom.
On the opposite side of the road, there were steps leading to the ‘Turn Hole’ where the flax was ‘retted’ to break down the cellulose coating and expose the fibres before spinning.
It was Canon Rawnsley, vicar of St Kentigern’s, Crosthwaite, who had started a handiwork class in his parish room in Main Street which later became The Keswick School of Industrial Arts.
The Ruskin Linen Industry was part of the Keswick School of Industrial Art. Ruskin Lace involves cutting out squares or oblongs in lengths of linen and filing them in with geometrical designs or patterns.
Marion Twelves had established the linen industry in Langdale in the late 19th century and started teaching hand spinning and weaving in Keswick in 1889.