Storrs Hall and the Boathouse, built in the 1790s by Yorkshire landowner Sir John Legard, is in the heart of the Lake District, one of the most scenic and peaceful regions of the British Isles. This magnificent stretch of glittering water, bays and islands has stirred some of the masters of lyrical English language. Lakeland poets, William Wordsworth and Robert Southey, were among the guests in Hall's heyday of private ownership and found inspiration among the prevailing tranquillity.
Wordsworth recited his famous Daffodils in the drawing room of Storrs Hall. Beatrix Potter, famed for The Tale of Peter Rabbit, attended many splendid parties here, joining distinguished guests from politics, industry and the military. The County Ball – one of the highlights of Lake District social life – was held here for more than 50 years. Storrs Hall was completed in 1797, the original house forming the lower central part which today houses the reception area of the Hotel and dining room.
He also built the Temple of the Heroes, which projects out into Windermere and is dedicated to the four British naval immortals, Admirals Duncan, Nelson, Howe and St Vincent. The Boathouse and Temple survive, the latter restored by the National Trust.
From 1804 to 1806 Storrs Hall was owned by David Pike Watts, uncle of the famous painter, John Constable who stayed in a cottage at Storrs in 1806. It was then owned by a wealthy merchant, John Bolton, who added wings to the original house linking them with a loggia and a veranda. He remodelled the interior with elegant reception rooms, a central, top-lit rotunda, and drew in the most prominent intellectuals and wits of the period. Social occasions included morning cavalcades through the 1,000-acre estate, moonlight boating on the lake and sparkling regattas.
One account recalls that: "Perhaps the most exciting of these was in 1825 when, with flags billowing on the Hall and the Temple, 50 barges sailed up Windermere celebrating a visit by George Canning and Sir Walter Scott." They paused at the Temple to admit the owner and his guests to a place of honour in the parade, and the lake poets led the cheers for Scott and Canning.
It was not until Storrs Hall was conveyed to a Benjamin Townson of Barrow-in-Furness in 1890 that it was first established as a hotel. In the 1920s and 1930s, many guests arrived on the steam trains at the L.M.S. terminus at Windermere, including many American tourists carried on to the Hotel in charabancs by American Express. North British Trust Hotels, who bought the Hotel in 1943, introduced more spectacular features such as the main bar bought from Blackpool's Winter Gardens. Storrs Hall was bought in 1997 by Les Hindle, a Lancashire businessman, who used his talents to carry out a sympathetic restoration.