The National Trust has finally acquired the island that inspired its foundation, reports the Telegraph. The trust is the largest membership organisation in the UK with over four million members, and was formed in 1895 in response to the sale of Grasmere Island.
The island, which is closely associated with the poet William Wordsworth, was sold at auction to a private bidder in 1893, prompting campaigners to set up the National Trust to secure Britain’s most iconic historic and wild places for the nation. Grasmere Island sits in the lake of the same name and is overlooked by the pretty village of Grasmere. Wordsworth lived at nearby Dove Cottage between 1799 and 1808, where he wrote some of his most famous poems, including ‘I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud’ and ‘The Prelude’ here. He later moved to Allan Bank House, which has views of the island, and described Grasmere as “the loveliest spot that man hath ever found”.
The island is small and wooded. Dave Almond, National Trust manager for Allan Bank and Grasmere, said it is significant despite its compact size. “It’s fantastic that 124 years after the private sale of Grasmere island, the view that can be enjoyed from Allan Bank and that has inspired so many, will now be protected for ever, for everyone,” he told the Telegraph. “The island provides a quiet haven for wildlife, including a heronry comprising four nests that have established here almost certainly because of the relative lack of human disturbance. The magnificent ‘Medusa-like’ veteran oak on the island has become engulfed by the surrounding younger trees. This is such an important tree ecologically because of the wildlife that it supports, but some work will need to be done to give it the space it needs.”
The National Trust manages historic houses and landscapes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It’s one of the largest landowners in the UK, with everything from nature reserves to John Lennon’s childhood home on its books. The separate National Trust for Scotland performs a similar role in Scotland. Grasmere Island was bequeathed to the National Trust by an anonymous benefactor.
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