Sunday, February 07, 2010

Belle Isle, Lake Windermere

Belle Isle
Lake Windermere
Bowness on Windermere

Belle Isle is the largest of Windermere's islands, and lays just to the South of Windermere and Bowness on Windermere. The island is about a mile long, and was previously known as Great Isle. It was bought for Isabella Curwen in about 1771, by her cousin John Christian. They later marries and John renamed the island Belle Isle after his wife. The island is thought to have been the site of a Roman villa, possibly connected with the Roman fort at Ambleside. Remains were found in 1774 during the building of a house, and from the descriptions given of the finds, it's possible that they indicated the site of a Roman villa.

The island's presence on this website is due to the fact that it is believed that it may have been regarded as a Royalist stronghold during the English Civil War, when it was owned by the Phillipson family.

The island is said to have been the subject of a short siege during the civil war, when it was attacked by a small Parliamentarian force lead by Colonel Briggs. His cousin Major Robert Phillipson is thought to have lightly fortified the island at this point, and although Colonel Briggs brought cannon fire on the island, probably from Cockshott Point to the South, the siege was lifted after about eight days(so we are told) by Robert's brother Colonel Huddleston Phillipson.

Above. Bell Isle from Cockshott Point.

Above. A landward view of Cockshott Point.

The legend attached to this event, tells us that Robert, who we now know as Robin the Devil, angry and humiliated by the attack on his home, rode to Kendal and its Parish church by the river, together with a small troop of soldiers, with the intention of 'doing great harm' to Colonel Briggs. He rode into the church, and tried to attack Colonel Briggs, but was, we are told, beaten back by the church congregation. In his haste to save himself, he lost both his helmet and his sword, which are today displayed high on the church walls.

As soon as I can find further information regarding the nature of any fortifications thought to have been built on Belle Isle, I'll post them here.

1 comment:

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