Lowther Castle and Gardens
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
And so it remained until 1806 when the Earl of Lonsdale called in architect Robert Smirke to create an impressive new house in the style of a medieval castle, incorporating the earlier ruined house. Lowther was Smirke's first major commission, but at the age of 25 he already showed the skill that would lead him to design the British Museum in London some years later. No expense was spared, and the finished house was described as 'magnificent' by contemporaries.
The GardensThe gardens at Lowther are like a timeline of historic English garden, with contributions to the design from such luminaries as Colen Campbell, Capability Brown, and William Gilpin. Each new design was layered onto the past, making Lowther's gardens a fascinating study in changing fashion in landscape and formal gardening.
The oldest feature is the Yew Avenue, laid out in the early 17th century. The oldest yew is believed to be 350-400 years old. Above the Yew avenue is a Pinetum with 19th century firs, cedars, and hemlocks.
The most fascinating garden area to my eye is the Rock Garden, with winding paths twisting around flower beds laid out around a central pond. Stone seats provide a quiet place to sit and soak in the lush green atmosphere.
VisitingFrankly, I was amazed at Lowther Castle. The shell of the castle itself is an extraordinary building; the very epitome of a fantasy castle, with eye-catching turrets and crenellations creating an imposing and elaborate structure that looks like it was built for a Hollywood film set. Though the castle has obviously suffered from the passage of time and neglect, enough remains to show what a remarkable building it was and how extraordinary it will be to visit when restoration is complete.
The gardens at Lowther would be worth a visit even without the aded attraction of the castle. Large parts of the planted areas have been overgrown, so that it is sometimes hard to imagine what they might have looked like when new, but enough remains to excite your imagination. Each garden area has an information panel, many with old photos showing how the garden looked, or with original plans explaining how it was laid out. Though a great deal of work obviously remains to be done, it is fascinating to see the gardens in the process of being restored, and imagine what they will look like when restored to something approaching their former glory.
I have to applaud the ownership of Lowther Castle and Gardens. They could have kept the castle and gardens closed to the public while restoration was in progress, but instead they decided to open up the estate so that visitorts could experience the restoration themselves, and watch it take place around them. Visitors can even sponsor a plant, or a whole bedding area, to help fund a small part of the restoration themselves.
About Lowther Castle
Address: Lowther, Penrith, Cumbria, England, CA10 2HH
Attraction Type: Historic House
Location: In Lowther, off the A6 south of Penrith. Well signed from surrounding roads. Free parking.
Website: Lowther Castle
Phone: 01931 712192
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Clifton Hall - 2.2 miles (Historic Building)
King Arthur's Round Table - 2.7 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Brougham Hall - 2.8 miles (Historic Building)
Mayburgh Henge - 2.9 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Brougham Castle - 3.3 miles (Castle)
Dalemain - 3.4 miles (Historic House)
The Countess Pillar - 3.5 miles (Historic Building)
Penrith Castle - 3.7 miles (Castle)
Nearest Accommodation to Lowther Castle: