button to main menu  Clarke's Survey of the Lakes, 1787

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Page 138:-
"common scythe shaft at the thickest part. This is the best information I can give you, and what has always been common report. I am, SIR,
"Yours, &c.
Kentmere, the 1st of March 1786.
"P.S. I think the man's name was Hugh Herd."
It may seem strange that the name of so remarkable a man should be so ill ascertained: this paradox may partly be solved, if we recollect that he did not know his own name, and that perhaps the clergyman of the parish might, previous to his death, give him baptism; least that sacrament should, in the rude manner of his early education, have been neglected. Gilpin is a common name in this country, and might probably be the name of his sponsor.
  Curwen Family
  Belle Isle

We will now re-embark, and sailing past Rayrigg, fall down a part of the Lake resembling the Archipelago, to the great island, and there land. This island belongs to John Christian, Esq; member of parliament for the city of Carlisle, who had it with his wife, a miss Curwen of Workington-Hall in the county of Cumberland, being the last of that name there.
Of this ancient family Mr Cambden says he himself descended by the mother's side, and who, according to that author, "fetch their descent from Gospatrick Earl of Northumberland; and they took their surname from Culwen, a family in Galloway in Scotland, the heir whereof they had married." It is very likely they were of Scottish extraction, for Mary Queen of Scots fled hither. They are the most ancient family in Cumberland that I know of; always residing there, and always having male-heirs till now. Mrs Christian (when Miss Curwen,) like many others, wanting a seat near some of the Lakes, purchased a place beautifully-enough situated at the low end of Bassenthwaite Lake, called Ouzebridge: this she deserted almost, after that she had purchased the island of Mr English, who had bought it of a Mr Barlow, and laid out a considerable sum of money on the house and gardens. These, however, Mr Hutchinson found great fault with in his Guide to the Lakes, published in 1770. I shall give his own words, and let the reader judge himself:- "The few natural beauties of this island are wounded and distorted by some ugly rows of firs set in right lines, and by the works now carrying on by Mr English the proprietor; who is laying out gardens on a square plan, building fruit-walls, and planning to erect a mansion-house there. The want of taste is a misfortune too often attending the opulent, (a pretty compliment paid to the opulent!) The romantic seite of this place, on so noble a lake, and surrounded with such scenes, asked for the plan of an edifice and pleasure grounds: But instead of that, to see a Dutch burgomaster's palace arise on this place; to see a cabbage-garth extend its bosom to the East, squared and cut out at right angles, is so offensive to the eye of the traveller, that he turns away with disgust. For pleasure, or for ornament, a narrow footpath is cut round the margin of the island, and laid with white sand; resembling the dusty paths of foot passengers over Stepney fields, or the way along which the owner often has heyed to Hackney."
Mr West says, "Of this sequestered spot Mr Young speaks in rapture; and Mr Pennant has done it much honour by his description: But, alas! it is no more to be seen in that beautiful unaffected state in which those gentlemen saw it. The sweet secreted
gazetteer links
button -- Belle Isle
button -- Hird House
button -- "Ouzebridge" -- (house, Ouse Bridge)
button -- "Kentmere Hall" -- Kentmere Hall
button -- "Workington Castle" -- Workington Hall
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