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You are in: Cumbria > Features > Island Hopping > Holme Island
Holme Island

Holme Island

Belinda Artingstoll
An island with a smugglers cave and a fake Roman temple!

Holme Island is at the end of a causeway close to Grange over Sands.

Gallery: Holme Island >
 Belinda Artingstoll visits Holme Island >
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The sands around it are increasingly being covered by the all-pervasive Spartina grass which has become a real problem in the area over the past few years. Rather than being surrounded by sand when the tide is out, the island is in the middle of a sea of green grass.

Holme Island from Grange Over Sands

The house on the island was built in the 1830s although it's thought there was a shooting lodge on there prior to that. There's also a lodge and a cottage.

Plus, there's a fake Roman temple called the Temple of Vesta. It's a replica of the temple  near the Forum in Rome. English families with grand homes often copied buildings they'd seen on their Grand Tour of Europe.

Temple of Vesta

Gill Asplin, whose parents owned   the island in the 1950s and 60s showed me some photos of the house and temple. We relied on the photos as the island is still private property and the owner had not given his permission for us to go on to the island. The house is hidden by trees.

Local historian Robin Webster says the island has a connection with the famous legend of England's last wolf being slain on nearby Humphrey Head in the 14th century. The island was given to the man who killed the wolf as a reward for his bravery.

Holme House

The causeway was built by the Brogden family when they lived on the island in the mid-nineteenth century. They helped to build the railway which runs right past the island. Some say the causeway was built as a little "extra" when the railway was built, if you know what I mean! The Brogden family also planted a lot of the trees on the island.

There's a great story about the island before the causeway was built involving local rates. The River Winster marked the boundary between Westmorland and Lancashire but the river changed direction from time to time meaning the island was sometimes in one county and sometimes in the other. The Brogdens apparently used this as an excuse not to pay rates in either county! 

During the second world war the island was requisitioned by the RAF and was used to billet its female staff working in the area. The men were billeted at the hotel now called The Grand in Grange over Sands. The idea was to keep them apart but I doubt it worked!

Robin Webster and Gill Asplin

Gill remembers playing on the island as a child  and swimming and sailing in the waters around it. She says there's  a smugglers cave on the island too! Robin says this was used to store whiskey and brandy being smuggled in from Ireland hundreds of years ago.

Her mother sold the island in the late 1960s and Gill showed me articles from the local paper with photos of her mother and the house. It's obviously not every day that the local island goes up for sale!

*The island is private property  and not open to the public.

last updated: 07/08/06

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