In the 1830’s Dr Thomas Arnold (1745-1842), headmaster of Rugby School was encouraged by William Wordsworth, to buy land and build a holiday home near Ambleside. The house was completed in 1833 and named Fox How. When Dr Arnold died the house was given to the poet Matthew Arnold who spent many holidays at Fox How. His poem ‘The New Sirens’ was composed while staying at the house.
Dr Arnold’s granddaughter Mary, later Mrs. Humphrey Ward spent part of her childhood at Fox How and describes it in ‘A Writers Recollections’. She recalled it as, ‘a modest building, with ten bedrooms and three sitting rooms. Its windows look straight into the heart of Fairfield, the beautiful semi-circular mountain which rears its hollowed front and buttressing scar against the north, far above the green floor of the valley.’
Mary Arnold was also the first person to write a children's novel set in the Lake District and in Milly and Olly or A Holiday Among the Mountains (1881) Fox How becomes Ravens nest.