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Derwent Water - St Herbet. Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional
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Author: Gerald Findler.
Book Title: Legends Of The Lake Counties

The St Herbert's island of Derwent water is well known for it's beauty, but is perhaps little known for the legend that is attached to it. This pretty little paradise of four or five acres is well covered with woods and situated near the centre of the lake.

It obtained it's name from St Herbert, a priest who chose the island as a sanctuary for his devotions. The remains of the hermitage are still visible, and near the hallowed ruins stands a small a grotto of unhewn stone, called the New Hermitage, which was erected by Sir Wilfred Lawson in the closing years of the last century.

Sir Herbert lived on a simple diet, mostly home grown vegetables and fish caught from the lake. This was about the middle of the seventh century and he was very friendly with St Cuthbert, the Bishop of Lindisfarne.

They conversed a great deal, and so close a connection sprung up between them, that both these holy men expired on the same day, and in the same hour and minute, which according to Bede, was in the year 678 or 687.

There is little information recorded of St Herbert, and but for his friendship with St Cuthbert this name would not have been handed to posterity at all.

He lived, prayed and meditated on this island.
In the register of Bishop Appleby, in 1374, there is an indulgence of forty days to any inhabitant of Crosswthaite who should attend the vicar to St Herbert's Isle on the 13th April yearly (that being the anniversary of his death) there to celebrate the memory of St Herbert.

Wordsworth wrote the following lines:
Of the Hermit of Derwent Water.
If thou, in the dear love of some one friend,
Hast been so happy that thou know'st, what the thoughts
Will sometimes, in the happiness of love,
Make the heart sink, then wilt thou reverence
This quiet spot; and , stranger, not unmoved,
Wilt thou behold this shapeless heap of stones,
The desolate ruins of St Herbert's cell.
There stood his freshold; there was spread the roof
That sheltered him, a self-secluded man, after long exercise in social cares,
And offices humane, intent to adore
The deity, with undistracted mind,
And meditate on everlasting things
In utter solitude.

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