The Floating Island
Close to Capesthorne Hall can be found the lake known as Redesmere, this is a man made lake which was made in the eighteenth century as a feeder lake for the ornamental lakes of Capesthorne Hall. The name Redesmere is thought to mean a marsh or a lake at a reedy place, and apart from being the home of Redesmere Sailing club is one of the few lakes that can lay claim to having a floating island.
Back in the 1930s it was said that when the water level in the lake was low, that there appeared on the surface of the lake a mass of peat and aquatic vegetation known as a “floating island”, similar islands have been known to occur on other meres, and on the Norfolk Broads these are known as “Hovers” which ducks use to rest on.
One of the things that sets this lake apart from others is that it has a legend attached to it in regard to the floating island, the story is as follows: A young knight, a member of the Bromley-Davenport family that owned Capesthorne Hall and Redesmere, mistakenly believed that the lady that he was due to marry was being unfaithful to him behind his back, when he found out about this he was so angry that he swore that he would have nothing more to do with her until the island on Redesmere lake moved. Shortly after he had said this he fell seriously ill and the lady that he had accused of being unfaithful selflessly nursed him back to health, while he was recovering from his illness a tremendous storm tore the island from its roots and blew it across the mere. The young Knight took this as a sign that his betrothed had not been unfaithful and the story had a happy ending as they both ended up getting married.
According to the Commodore of Redesmere Sailing club, he claimed that there was a floating island on Redesmere in its earlier days and that it did move around the lake in high winds, it was mainly composed of peat and vegetation with trees growing upon it. He went on to claim that in the 1970s it grounded itself on the east bank of the lake where it can still be found to this day.
This story ties in well with the claim made by local resident Raymond Rush, an author and also one of the last remaining people who is keeping the tradition of making corn dollies alive, a tradition that stretches back thousands of years, however he claims that he can still remember the chains which were attached to the island and which stopped it drifting around the lake. This would have been in the 1970s and unfortunately the chains appear to have rusted away and no trace of them can be found. Even though the chains no longer exist, it has given the island a chance to anchor itself in position, it has stopped the island drifting about and has allowed trees that were growing on the island to put down roots which have attached to the lake bed, thus allowing it to anchor itself naturally in one place. So although in all probability the island used to move around freely in high winds, and this is supported by the fact that on old maps the island can be seen located in a different position, it is a sad fact that the island seems to be a victim of its own demise in that it has taken root and no longer floats about. Although forty years ago the story was a reality it seems that once again this mysterious island has been transformed into a legend!
The floating island has now anchored itself