Mathilde’s Café at the Heaton Cooper Studio, Grasmere is the latest incarnation of a truly remarkable love story… a love of both landscape and of the heart…

We pick up the tale in London in 1884, when a young 20-year-old clerk from Bolton decides to give up his career to study art in the capital under one of the UK’s leading modern landscape painters, George Clausen.

Clausen an artist of some considerable note shared the view of many of the great Impressionist painters, that light is the real subject of landscape art…

A view which firmly resonated with Clausen’s young pupil Alfred Heaton Cooper... Alfred so influenced by the Impressionist movement cut short his studies to travel and embark on a quest to capture the very essence of the landscapes he would later surround himself with.

Yorkshire was his first port of call, where he followed in Turner’s footsteps for a brief time, before travelling to Morocco’s warmer climes… not content he once more struck out, this time for the Norwegian Fjords, which were to capture his heart in more ways than one…

Travelling extensively in Denmark, Sweden and then Norway, Cooper finally established a studio in the small village of Balestrand in 1891, beside the iconic Sognefjord (nicknamed the King of the Fjords), a place popular with tourists and artists; including the likes of Hans Gude, Augustine Normann, Johannes Flintoe and Hans Dahl.

Here Alfred met the love of his life Mathilde Marie Valentinsen… a gentle Norwegian country girl who stole away his heart…

Alfred first met Mathilde, the daughter of a leather dyer, in 1891. At first the pair were friendly but seemingly little else, however, this all changed by 1892, when Alfred proposed to Mathilde…

Short of funds Alfred was forced to return to England to sell pieces of work, and more importantly to allow him to amass enough funds to marry Mathilde… they married in Tjugum Church in September 1894 and so began the foundation of an artistic dynasty…

Ye mountains hoar frost of earthfast stone,
Where ancient Thor presides alone;
Ye fjords that smile in silver blue,
Each rock and isle, farwell to you.

The couple travelled to England in November 1894 to set up home, initially settling in Bolton, before moving to Southport, and then the Lake District in 1898, where the family finally settled.

To this day Mathilde’s Scandi heritage permeates the very essence of the Heaton Cooper Studio… the simple enjoyment of the good things in life with good people…


Café Open 9:30 - 4pm

Last food is served at 3:30pm



Food Menu

Take a look at what fantastic food is currently on offer. Freshly made and locally sourced.

Drink Menu

A beverage to go with your food? Or to go nicely with a slice of cake? We offer some of the finest coffee around.

Specials Menu

Our specials change daily. Here's an example of the kind of specials we have on offer.

Mathilde’s Café at the Heaton Cooper Studio, Grasmere, may well be named after Mathilde Marie Valentinsen, a gentle Norwegian country girl who stole the heart of acclaimed artist Alfred Heaton Cooper, but there is more to this café than a simple love story. As you will discover the café reflects a deeply rooted shared culture, a culture of simple, tasty food done well.

Scandinavian food culture offers a unique chance to enjoy meals that have been perfected over thousands of years. Food influenced by Viking tradition, healthy everyday food for the people. Food that is very much about simplicity, where the main ingredients flavour the dish.

This style of cooking isn't only limited to fish as many think, and it is by no means bland, dishes found across Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, and Finland are made with a variety of ingredients sourced from both the land and sea.

Often described as ‘husmanskost’ or ‘farmers food’ you'll find lots of dishes brim full of beets, potatoes, cucumbers, and apples all carefully matched alongside paired shellfish, fish, pork, poultry, and beef. Herbs and spices feature in abundance too including chives, thyme, cardamom, juniper berries, parsley and fennel. It’s dill, the garlic of the North, however that is used the most, in everything from pickled fish to crisps.