Belle Isle, which is the largest of 18 islands on Lake Windermere in the Lake District, lies across Bowness Bay in the center of Windermere Lake. This island, which is approximately one mile long, used to be known as the Great Island. It’s history dates back to Roman times, when a Commander at Ambleside built a villa here as a pleasure house. However, during the English Civil War it was a Royalist stronghold of the local Philipson family. The unusual circular house, which was designed by John Plaw, was built in 1774.
Approximately seven years later John Christian, who was the cousin of the heiress Isabella Curwen, bought the island for £1,720 on her behalf. He later became her husband and renamed the island in her honour. This island was inhabited by their descendants until 1993. Unfortunately, the Belle Isle house suffered extensive damage following a large fire in 1996 and had to be repaired. The island, which is now privately owned by Harold and Janet Lefton, is not open for public viewing.