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Derwent Water or Keswick Lake, Cumberland

Historical Description

Derwent Water or Keswick Lake, a lake in Cumberland, in the basin of the Derwent river, adjacent to Keswick. Its length northward is 3 miles; its greatest breadth, 1¼mile; its surface elevation above the level of the sea, 228 feet; its greatest depth, 72 feet. It often rises at times of heavy rains 6 or 7 feet above its ordinary level, and sends off floods down the Vale of Keswick so broad as to fuse it temporarily into one lake with Bassenthwaite Water. It abounds with trout, perch, pike, and eel, and contains the fish vendace, known to exist nowhere else except in Loch-maben Castle Loch in Dumfriesshire. The scenery is a compend of most parts of the lake district, excelled by some in particular features, but excelling them all in variety of character, multiplicity of picture, symmetry of composition, and general richness of effect. Three islands and five or six islets diversify the lake surface. Lord's Island, about 100 yards from the east shore, and about 6¼ acres in area, is covered with stately trees, and has foundations of a mansion of the Ratcliffes, Earls of Derwentwater, the last of whom took part in the rebellion of 1715, and was beheaded in the following year. The property was conferred on Greenwich Hospital. Derwent Island, near the foot, and about 6 acres in area, is all disposed in landscape garden, and contains the mansion of the Marshalls. St Herbert's Island, near the centre, took name from the residence on it of the hermit Herbert, a contemporary of St Cuthbert; was for centuries a resort of pilgrims; and contains an ancient-looking fishing cot of 1798 and a small old ruin, reputed to have been St Herbert's hermitage, and of which Wordsworth says- " Stranger! not unmoved Wilt thou behold this shapeless mass of stones, The desolate ruin of St Herbert's cell. Though here the hermit numbered his last day, Far from St Cuthbert, his beloved friend- Those holy men both died in the same hour."

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Cumberland is available to browse.