This defensive settlement was built at the beginning of the 15th century and was owned by the Lawson family.
Isel Hall started off as a pele tower built around 1400 to defend the area against invading Scots. It’s clear that the location was chosen strategically: high up on a steep slope, and protected by the River Derwent on the north side and a woodland stream on the west, it was a challenge for enemies who wanted to attack. The Hall belonged to the Leigh family from 1315 until 1572, when it was passed to the Lawson family. The Lawsons built an extra wing to the property with an entrance hall and banqueting hall with Tudor panelling.
The Wybergh family moved there in 1806 and they had several high-profile guests come to stay, including Princess Louise, who stayed there with her husband, the Marquis of Lorne, on her way to open a bazaar at Carlisle in September 1877.
After the death of Sir Hilton Lawson, the 4th Baronet, the hall was sold to Margaret Austen-Leigh, related to the writer Jane Austen by marriage. When Margaret died in 1986 she left the Hall to a friend, Mary Burkett OBE, who had worked as a museum director in the UK. She helped to improve lots of rooms in the building which had been a bit neglected over the years, and left the house to its current owners when she passed away in 2014.
The gardens, though wild, have lots of rhododendrons in spring and look towards the river, catching the sun really well since they are south-facing. Guided tours are run by local volunteers and they’ll take you round to show you porcelain and paintings that have been left in the hall.