architecture, belvedere, Cumbria, eyecatcher, Folly, garden, landscape, Monument, Summerhouse, Temple

The Temple of Naval Heroes, Storrs Hall, Windermere, Cumbria

The grandly-named ‘Temple of Naval Heroes’ stands at the end of a narrow causeway that leads from the grounds of Storrs Hall out into the water, offering magnificent views up and down the lake. The temple was constructed by Sir John Legard of Storrs Hall as an ornament to the new house he had built in the last years of the eighteenth century, and as an expression of his patriotism, Sir John being ‘passionately attached to his country’. The octagonal building carries plaques celebrating four great naval victors in the ongoing war against the French– Admirals Howe, St Vincent, Duncan and Nelson.

Legard had travelled extensively in Europe in his younger years but suffered ill-health later in life, including a weakness in his legs which left him unable to walk. Determined to enjoy an outdoor life, he retired to the shores of Windermere where he could indulge his love of sailing. Sir John was instrumental in establishing an annual regatta on Windermere in 1801, carrying on the tradition established on Derwentwater in the previous century. In his appositely named yacht, The Victory, Sir John triumphed over other local landowners, and it is likely that when he dedicated his summerhouse to the admirals he was playfully reminding his neighbours that his prowess on the lake matched that of the Royal Navy at sea. 

Sir John’s health continued to deteriorate and he left Storrs only a couple of years later but subsequent owners continued to appreciate the diminutive temple. It must have been something of a squeeze when on 2 May 1805 Jessy Harden of Brathay Hall and ten friends ‘breakfasted in the Temple of the Heroes’. Harden also joined another excursion to the temple later that month; a party that was immortalised in print after one of the revellers wrote a 14-page mock-heroic poem describing the day:

A Pic Nic I sing, of the very first rate,
A moderniz’d party, a new-fangl’d fete.

By the middle of the twentieth century the grade II* listed ‘little gazebo’ had succumbed to the ‘wear and tear of wind and water (and perhaps hooligans)’ and was looking rather sad. An appeal in 1962 raised £1,253, enough to cover the costs of restoration with a small surplus for maintenance. The owners of Storrs Hall, by now a hotel, handed the building to the National Trust in 1965 and visitors can walk through the hotel grounds and out to the temple.

There’s more Storrs Hall info here


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7 thoughts on “The Temple of Naval Heroes, Storrs Hall, Windermere, Cumbria”

  1. Catherine Thompson-McCausland says:

    Love getting your posts. Very cheering in these dismal days. Thank you!

    1. Editor says:

      Hello Catherine. Thank you for the kind comment. It is so lovely to receive feedback and I hope you continue to enjoy my weekly ramblings.

  2. Alan Marsh says:

    The Causeway originally had a crenalated wall along at least the southern side, which has been lost – save for a short length that survives on the landward end.
    The flagpole has unfortunately succumbed to wind and time… only the stump survives.
    Despite all this, the Temple is a great place to visit and takes very little time.

    1. Editor says:

      Hello Alan. It is a lovely little building, and as you say well worth a visit. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

    2. Nick Bond says:

      We love walking to the temple, visiting nearby frequently. Unfortunately we have returned after lockdown to find the hotel have installed at the south entrance a sign “private grounds, access only to Temple of Heroes” and then installed a huge lock to the gate making it difficult to access. Given the temple is owned by the national trust this must surely be against the law.

      1. Editor says:

        Thanks for the comment. That doesn’t sound good, I will see what I can find out. It’s a lovely spot so it would be a great shame if access was limited.

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