Lowther Castle and Gardens :

Lowther / Askham

East Lakes Accommodation
 

Lowther Castle and Gardens is undergoing a major restoration project, with a new visitor centre, and cafe already open.  An ideal time to visit to see the restoration in progress.

 

Late 2012 – some 2 years into the restoration project. Aerial photo by Roger Savage

Lowther Castle has been the family seat of the Earls of Lonsdale from time immemorial, and occupies the site of mansions dating back to the reign of Edward I.

 

The present building was started in 1806, for Sir Hugh Lowther the fifth Earl, to designs by Sir Robert Smirke. Lowther Castle was his first job when he was just 25. It was commissioned to be a design of elegance and strength. The castle was well known for its wide range of activities and entertainment of distinguished guests. Unfortunately the castle’s grand proportions were too extravagant for the 20th Century.

 

After the death of the fifth Earl of Lonsdale, the Castle was abandonded, the interior was dismantled and only the walls left standing as a memorial to past glories. The family moved to nearby Askham Hall, whose gardens are now open to the public.

 

Before restoration started but after clearance of the farm sheds and concrete bases.
Aerial photo by Simon Ledingham.

The gardens and castle at Lowther have laid abandoned for 70 years and in 2011 opened for the first time since 1938. Visitors can follow simple routes through the 130 acres of gardens and castle terraces.

 

The original planting has long disappeared but the outlines of 17th Century and Edwardian gardens remain, overplanted with trees and covered by moss and lichen.

 

Restoration work to prevent the collapse of the castle ruin is underway, with stone masons rebuilding parapet walls, turrets and towers.

 

The stable courtyard is being converted.  The cafe is already open serving a good menu of local home produced food: the shop, museum and castle ruins will be open in 2013, see the Lowther Castle website for more details of opening dates.  Castle tours available at time of writing (Jan 2013)

 

One of the ‘lost gardens’ of Lowther currently under renovation.

A public road passes through the estate from Askham to Lowther Newtown, passing St Michael’s Church which is opposite the front of the Castle. Inside the Church are various memorials to members of the Lowther family.

 

Sir Robert Smirke also designed St Peter’s Church in nearby Askham.

 

Very well worth a visit is the nearby Lakeland Bird of Prey Centre, situated in the walled garden of Lowther Castle and surrounded by unspoilt parkland. Visitors are able to see over 150 falcons, hawks, eagles, buzzards and owls from this country and abroad. The birds are flown three times daily, weather permitting, a rare chance to see these magnificent birds flown free. There is also an excellent small tea room here.  The centre has been established here for 20 years and is open from April to October inclusive.

 

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Grid Ref : NY 523239