Storrs Hall is something of a Lake District anomaly. It’s a Grade II listed neo-classical Georgian mansion with 17 acres of grounds right on the shores of Windermere. As such, this is one of the few eighteenth-century “gentry” houses built beside a lake that was to be colonised by the Victorians a few decades later.
The house was constructed in the 1790s to the south of Bowness for John, 6th Baronet Legard, a distant relative of the BBC sports journalist Jonathan Legard who can often be heard on Radio 4 today.
According to house legend, the poets William Wordsworth and Robert Southey, and the novelist Sir Walter Scott were early guests of Sir John. Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy were particularly manipulative of the connection – as many writers often are – getting the Legard estate to give them feed for their horses and other provisions. In return, it is said that Wordsworth recited his poem ‘Daffodils’ in the drawing room of Storrs Hall.
This is a fine room with large rectangular glass windows on to the lake and just off a beautiful circular lobby lined with stained glass. No wonder Wordsworth thought Sir John could afford to subsidise his Lakeland sojourn.
Storrs Hall is also home to a National Trust-owned folly, called “The Temple", situated on the end of a stone jetty jutting out into Windermere. On its four of its eight sides Sir John commemorated four great British admirals: Nelson, Howe, Duncan and St. Vincent.
After 14 years of owning Storrs Hall Sir John became increasingly crippled by gout, and eventually sold the house in 1804. The next owner was Colonel John Bolton who greatly beautified the hall but who has been under a reputational cloud recently because of owning slave plantations in the West Indies.
In the twentieth century Storrs Hall was used as a girls' school and as a youth hostel as well as hosting the staff and pupils of a boys’ school who were evacuated to Windermere during World War II.
Today the hall is a 30-bedroom hotel with six modern Lakeside Suites and a recently refurbished boathouse. This stone retreat has its own outdoor hot tub, steam room, private terrace, and fire-pit.
In the main building there is no obvious reception, no gym or spa and no lift. Storrs Hall retains the impression of a grand family home.
The one marvellously vulgar touch however is the bar, whose counter is a glorious piece of Victoriana taken from the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool. It occupies one of the drawing rooms and is fully functioning with ornate stained glass windows that come down to be locked at closing time.