The island that started a lasting legacy
After 124 years in private hands, the island in the Lake District that inspired the founding of the National trust has been given to the charity.
When Grasmere Island, in Lake Grasmere, was put up for sale in 1893, it attracted the attention of Canon Hardwicke rawnsley, who was already worried about there being no organisation to protect the Lakeland landscape from development by private owners. He held a meeting with Sir robert Hunter and Octavia Hill and, just over a year later, the three founded the National trust.
‘It is notorious that during the last two years the top of Snowdon, the island in the middle of Grasmere lake, and the Lodore falls have all come into the market,’ lamented rawnsley at the time. ‘Had such a trust as that now proposed been in existence, each of these places might have been obtained for the nation.’
the four-acre island, which is also a haven for wildlife, especially herons, can be seen from Allan Bank House, Wordsworth’s and, later, rawnsley’s home—the Canon donated it to the nation when he died. ‘It’s fantastic that the view from Allan Bank, which has inspired so many, will now be protected forever, for everyone,’ says local trust manager Dave Almond, who is also concerned about protecting a ‘magnificent “Medusalike” veteran oak’ from younger trees that surround it. ‘It’s an exciting prospect,’ he continues, ‘and we’re looking forward to carrying out some wildlife surveys, such as bat surveys, to see what species are currently present.’
Preserved for the nation: serene Grasmere Island