The life of a "remarkable" man of letters, whose legacy is certain to live on among the lakes and fells which he loved, was celebrated in a ceremony of music and poetry yesterday.

Hundreds of mourners braved icy weather to pay tribute to Dr Robert Woof, the director of the Wordsworth Trust and eminent scholar of the Romantic period, who died on November 7, aged 74.

St Oswald's Parish Church, in Grasmere, was packed with family and friends of the "dynamic" and much loved academic.

The children of Grasmere Primary School sang hymns before the funeral procession reached the church.

The service, which was conducted by the Rev Cameron Butland, was interspersed with readings from the poetry of Wordsworth and other writers.

Former Conservative party chairman, Cecil Parkinson, a lifelong friend of Dr Woof, recalled how the scholar's personality shone through even during his days at Lancaster Grammar School.

"He was a wonderful friend and greatly admired throughout the school. One saw in those days all those qualities that made him so successful and admired," he said.

Dr Woof's wife Pamela told how she and her husband had returned to Grasmere "again and again."

"This is Robert's abiding place," she said in her tribute, which was read to the congregation by another family member.

Former culture secretary and Labour MP, Chris Smith, paid tribute to Dr Woof's role in the creation of the Jerwood Centre at Grasmere the new centre for British romanticism.

Lord Smith, who is also chairman of the Wordsworth Trust, said: "He bequeathed us an organisation and a collection a legacy which has grown immeasurably great in size and reputation with his leadership,"

Others attending the funeral included the eminent poet Tony Harrison and Booker nominated writer Sarah Hall.

Representatives of the trust were remaining tight lipped about the occupant of a private helicopter, which swept into a nearby field, saying it was a "wealthy private individual who had supported the trust and loaned it objects from their collection."