The site of Lowther Castle has been occupied by the same family since 1150. Several different buildings have been and gone, the last of which was the castle itself. It was commissioned by William, 1st Earl of Lonsdale in 1806 and designed by the architect Robert Smirke. Smirke later became responsible for many great civic buildings in London including the British Museum. In its heyday, the castle was said to boast a room for every day of the year. There was a grand art collection and the house was a celebrated landmark of the north.
130 years after it was built however, the castle was abandoned. The ‘Yellow Earl’, the 5th Earl of Lonsdale had spent his way through a vast fortune and the castle was a luxury too far.
War-time requisition by an army tank regiment, crippling death duties and a chronic lack of investment sealed the castle’s fate and in 1957, James Lonsdale, the 7th Earl removed the castle roof. Every chimney pot, every door handle, every fireplace was sold and Lowther Castle became an empty shell.
Much-loved visitor destination
The history of Lowther Castle has now come full circle. From grandeur to extravagance to abandonment to demolition, the castle is today one of the most popular tourist destinations in Cumbria. Intervention by public funding bodies, the creation of the Lowther Castle & Gardens Trust and extensive investment and hard work on the part of the trustees and owners have transformed the place into a thriving enterprise. The castle is now a garden and, under the guidance of landscape designer Dan Pearson, the gardens are being rediscovered and renewed. In the stable gallery, an exhibition tells The Story of Lowther – showing how this fascinating place has held up a mirror to its times. For families, a huge adventure playground offers excitement galore.
To find out more information about opening times and ticket prices, follow this link.