Lowther Castle sits at the heart of a 75,000 acre agricultural estate in Cumbria's Lake District National Park, within a 3,000 acre medieval deer park originally laid out by the Lowther family in the 16th and 17th centuries. This was subsequently remodelled in the 18th and early 19th centuries for the first and second Earls of Lonsdale. The Lowther family is today maintaining and restoring this listed parkland, whilst still farming the estate.
This castle stands on a site occupied by the Lowther family for over 800 years. Being the third home on the site in that time, the current castle was completed in 1806 and a beautiful sculpture gallery with decorative plaster ceiling added in 1814; this is the only remaining room of the castle, subsequently restored.
The last family resident was the Yellow Earl, the fifth Earl, who left the castle on New Year’s Day 1936. The castle was then requisitioned by the army during the second world war for secret tank weapon testing in the gardens.The sixth Earl sold the castle contents in 1947. After four years of trying to find alternative ways of saving the architectural heritage of the site, the late seventh Earl decided to remove the roof and all the interior structure of the building in 1957, the best solution in the circumstances to keep the building in some form within its landscape; as well as protecting the rest of the estate from a £25 million death duty bill. The gardens were then used to house a large chicken farm and commercial forestry business, who used the military concreting over of the lawns, with timber planted close up to the castle ruins. The remaining gardens and castle ruin were left to run wild and decay for subsequent decades.
A partnership was established between the Lowther Estate and English Heritage in 1999, resulting in extensive work to prepare the site for the ensuing project, which included vital repairs to the staircase tower and clearance of most of the army concrete over the lawns.
The restoration of Lowther Castle and Gardens was helped by funding secured from the North West Development Agency, European Regional Development Fund, the Architectural Heritage Fund and Lowther Estate Trust.
As a result vital works have been carried out helping to secure the future of Lowther Castle. To date this has included full restoration of the Stable Yard which now houses the café, shop & facilities. Stabilisation works will continue throughout the ruins, this will allow further access to the castle for visitors. The grounds have seen vast changes which include recovery of historical gardens and implementation of new designs. Visitors are now able to access a large part of the ruin including the the Garden in The Ruin which was designed by Dan Pearson and brought to life by Head Gardener Martin Ogle and his team.
Earlier in the year The Lowther Estate pledged to invest £1 million to help secure the Castle's future and create a "World Class" tourist destination.
It has been an exciting year for Lowther Castle and Gardens with the opening of The Lost Castle, into the woods and a new exhibition area detailing the history of the Lowther Family, the plans for the project and some fantastic information about the story of Lowther Castle.
The castle & gardens sit within the larger Lowther Park for which there are also plans to create further public access.