He is known for his stately homes and country houses – and for his parking lots for banks. Now the National Trust has added one of the most beautiful views of the Lake District to its portfolio, after landowners decided to share it with the nation.
The panorama of Brackenthwaite Hows was painted by JMW Turner in his watercolor Crummock from 1797, Looking To Buttermere, and offers a splendid 360-degree view of the north-western lakes. He was noticed by the artist on his first ever visit to what later became the national park, and was the basis for an oil painting which he exhibited at the Royal Academy.
It is the first time in recent memory that the National Trust has purchased a site specifically for its view, according to a spokeswoman.
Also known as Lanthwaite Hill, the view was a popular stop in the Georgian and Victorian era, but fell out of fashion. Now it has become a hidden gem. Known and loved by local dog walkers and intrepid hikers armed with an operating system map, it has been largely ignored by tourists, who prefer to climb famous peaks like Scafell Pike and Helvellyn.
Now the landowners of the 77-acre site have sold to the National Trust so that it can be enjoyed by everyone forever.
The Trust paid £ 202,000 for the land from three different owners, one of whom – the Hill family, who lived in the area – decided to return their share to a charity.
Ruth and David Hill said: "We have owned and cared for a part of Brackenthwaite Hows since 1990. During that time, we had the privilege of maintaining the property and going through this magical peak in all seasons.
"We have always wanted the National Trust to take care of the property as we believed it would be the best possible custodian of its assets. We are pleased to have been able to do our part to complete it.
"We encourage others to consider the wider benefits of giving these properties care on behalf of the nation, so natural beauty can be preserved."
From 18century, Brackenthwaite has become a popular spot among the locals, and is a popular area for woods and moors due to its views, bluebells, wild flowers, wildlife and fascinating history.
Tom Burditt, director general of the National Trust in the North Lakes, said: "We are pleased and proud that we will take care of Brackenthwaite Hows thanks to a generous donation from Ruth and David Hill.
"We are going to explore ways to improve access routes to the historic observation station, a very special place within a world heritage site. We know that it was visited by Turner and formed a popular stopping point for the first tourists of the Lake District in the Georgian and Victorian eras.
"We will work hard to support this area of great cultural and ecological importance, that the nearby forests, hills and lakes that we already take care of ourselves. We plan to maintain its mosaic of veteran and younger trees and habitats of moorland providing a haven for rare birds, bluebells and red squirrels ".
Turner painted other masterpieces while visiting the land now owned by the National Trust. Perhaps the most famous is Petworth's home in West Sussex, the home of his patron, the Earl of Egremont, who painted a morning dew from the lake.