Muncaster Castle and Gardens :
Dominating the River Esk, Muncaster has been of strategic importance since Roman times, and has been home to the Penningtons since 1208.
The pele tower stands on Roman foundations and was extended through the ages into the Castle of today. In 1862 the fashionable architect Anthony Salvin was engaged by the fourth Lord Muncaster to rebuild the house. Salvin took the courtyard, built by the first Lord Muncaster, and converted it into the present drawing room. The pele tower at the SW end was matched by Salvin with the NW tower. He did a good job, with towers, battlements and mullioned and transomed windows.
In 1208 the land was granted to the Pennington family, and it is still their home, probably only due to the magical ‘Luck of Muncaster’, a glass drinking bowl belonging to Henry VI. He gave it to the family in 1464 declaring that as long as it remained intact, Penningtons would live and thrive at Muncaster.
A tour of the house may be made with audio commentary, narrated by Patrick Gordon-Duff-Pennington, the present owner, describing what can be seen in the Great Hall, the Library, the Dining Room, the Drawing Room and the Bedrooms.
Spring and early summer bring a riot of colour to the 77 acres of woodland gardens where the rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas are at their best. Summer flowering herbaceous plants and autumn fruiting trees and shrubs will provide colour throughout the seasons. The Terrace Walk, described by John Ruskin as ‘The Gateway to Paradise’, offers spectacular views of the Eskdale Valley and the Lakeland fells, with their constantly changing moods. A specimen of Nothofagus obliqua is the tallest example in Britain.
New for the millennium was the Meadow Vole Maze – where you can imagine being a meadow vole, just two and a half inches tall, living in meadowland, where danger lurks at every turn. In the Meadow Vole Maze the secret world of wildlife makes a wild experience. You may meet Max Meadowvole, who will help you get home safely.
The plant centre offers the largest collection of hardy rhododendrons in the North, and a convenient mail order service is available. In the old stables area is Creeping Kate’s Kitchen, serving meals and snacks, and the Carriage Gift Shop, selling interesting and unusual gifts. The Castle is licensed for civil weddings.
See also :
Muncaster has its very own heronry below the bank by the cannon. Every afternoon, from about 4.00pm the wild herons come and get fed on the Cannon Bank in front of an audience.
Grid Ref : SD 103964
Muncaster, Ravenglass, CA18 1RQ. Tel 01229 717614.