Lowther

Grid Ref : NY 536236
 

Lowther village. Aerial photo by Simon Ledingham.

The village of Lowther has been home to the Lowther family from 1283, and the family are still the largest landowners in the Lake District. During the 18th and 19th century, the Lowthers dominated the counties of Cumberland and Westmorland, managing them in a feudal manner.

 

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 Lowther Castle was the first job by the young architect Robert Smirke in 1806, when he was just 25. Although his domestic architecture was Gothic Revival, he is best known for his Neo-Classical public buildings, such as the British Museum (1823-1847) in London.

 

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.

 

Whilst working on the design for Lowther Castle, Robert Smirke also designed St Peter’s church in nearby Askham.

 

St Michael’s Church stands within an extensive churchyard within Lowther park, and in the shadow of the ruined Lowther Castle. A spectacular location which overlooks the River Lowther, and commands fine views over forest and fell. Inside the Church are various memorials to members of the Lowther family. Although the church dates from the 12th century, it was largely rebuilt by Sir John Lowther in the 1860s.

 

When Sir John began work on rebuilding the church, he demolished the village of Lowther, and built a new one – Lowther New Town. Much of this was later pulled down, because it spoiled the view from his castle, and so another village, Lowther Village, was started in 1806.

 

The Lakeland Bird of Prey Centre is situated in the walled garden of Lowther Castle, 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.

 

The famous Lowther Horse Driving Trials and Country Fair takes place each year in Lowther Park.

 

Just south of Eamont Bridge is the North entrance to Lowther park, leading under the M6 to the Lowther caravan park, situated by a bend in the River Lowther.

 

Several miles south is the South entrance where the Emperor’s drive, which used to lead to the castle, has been cut off by the M6 motorway.

 

The Lowther Leisure Park, still marked on the Ordnance Survey maps, has long since closed.

 

Lowther park, Lowther Castle and St Michael’s Church. Aerial photo by Simon Ledingham.

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