Lowther Castle – Restoration on a Massive Scale

by David Murray on 26 January 2011

in Castles, Cumbria, Stately Homes, Visitor Attractions

When, many years ago, I first saw Lowther Castle I was quite taken aback.  Driving near Askham, south of Penrith, on the Eastern side of the English Lake District, suddenly this amazing building appeared on the horizon.  Decades after its substantial destruction and exposure to the elements the massive skeleton stands impressive still.

Lowther Castle c1880

Lowther Castle c1880

Over the course of its history Lowther has gone through many ups and downs.  It has suffered from fire, weather, and sometimes profligacy and neglect as human generations have come and gone.

The present structure stands on the site of earlier buildings, its construction relatively recent in historical terms. It was just over two hundred years ago, in 1806, that Sir Hugh Lowther the 5th Earl specified to his architect this residence of great splendour, and one has to say extravagance, that later generations eventually found uneconomic to sustain.

After glory days before World War I Lowther Castle began to decline, and its once internationally praised gardens began to suffer from inadequate care as costs spiralled.  After use by the army in World War II the castle’s contents were taken away in the 1940s and by the end of the 50s the roof had been removed to make the building safe.  Gradually Lowther Castle became a symbol of past glories.

Having said that, Lowther Park is not dead.  A wide variety of activities have continued to take place in the grounds, including the annual Lowther Horse Driving Trials and Country Fair.  Also, the Lakeland Bird of Prey Centre is based in the walled garden.

What is more, there are plans for the future of Lowther Castle.  One of the biggest restoration projects in the UK is currently underway. The first stages are expected to open to the public on Good Friday, 22nd April 2011 when part of the gardens will be open and people will be able to see something of the progress of the building work. It will, however, take years for the castle itself and its gardens to be brought back to anything approaching its previous splendour.   For more on the redevelopment of this historic building and its environs visit the website of the Lowther Castle & Gardens Project.

The above edited picture of Lowther Castle as it was in the past is taken from Morris’s Country Seats (1880) and shown here courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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simon burns June 17, 2011 at 21:16

i am currently a scaffolder on the site, and hope over many years lowther castle will be back to its architectural beauty it once was. the estate still has beautiful surroundings and will attract visitors from all over on a global scale. good luck!

David Murray July 7, 2011 at 12:28

Simon, That’s quite a privilege to be working on such a worthwhile project. I hope it’s going well.

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