Cumbria is probably best known for its mountains, hills and lakes but it also has many fine buildings like Lowther Castle in the town of Penrith. This castle has belonged to the Lowther family since the Middle-Ages. It is in fact, a beautiful country house with lovely parklands The current mansion was built by English architect, Sir Robert Smirke for the 1st Earl of Lonsdale, William Lowther, between 1806 and 1814. At the time it was built it was designated a ‘castle’ for the first time in its history.
The castle passed into the ownership of the 5th, Earl of Lonsdale, but the family’s fortune didn’t fare too well as the Earl was something a socialite and his extravagant lifestyle and spending meant the castle had to close in 1937.
During the Second World War the building was used by a tank regiment and in the late 1940s all the contents of the house were removed. Finally 1957, the roof was taken off thus exposing this beautiful building to the elements. It had become ‘too extravagant’ a cost for 20th century living.
The estate is now owned by the Lowther Estate Trust. Not all of the castle is in ruins. The grand stable courtyard is used for functions and the castle’s cafe has been converted from its original coach house. The Sculpture Gallery, adjacent to the main castle, can be booked for private and corporate events.
With the closure of the castle, the Lowther family moved to the nearby Askham Hall, a dwelling more in keeping with 20th century life as the estate is smaller.
The castle’s estate at Lowther remained abandoned for 70 years until in 2011 when it opened to visitors. Its 130 acres of planted gardens have long since gone but visitors can walk through what remains of the outline of the 17th century and Edwardian plantings. Visitors to the castle can visit the nearby Lakeland Bird of Prey Centre, situated in the walled garden and surrounded by unspoilt parkland. There are over 150 falcons, hawks, eagles, buzzards and owls to see from the UK and abroad.
But the grounds are not only home to birds of prey but are also said to be haunted by Sir James Lowther. He was in love with the daughter of a local farmer and when she died of an illness he refused to accept she was dead. She was placed in a coffin with a glass lid and kept in a cupboard where James would look at her. Her body was finally laid to rest and Sir James died unloved. As his coffin was lowered into the grave it began swaying violently.
His coach and horses are said to have been seen being wildly driven through the grounds of the castle.
Visitors have reported hearing children’s voices in the grounds and have been frightened by ‘horrible feelings,’ a ghostly figure of a lady with a child has been seen and others have heard loud unexplained noises.
The castle was investigated by a local historian and paranormal team and from their investigation they have declared the location as being ‘very’ haunted.
Lowther Castle is an award winning tourist attraction. Visitors can enjoy the extensive grounds and beautiful architecture. Restoration work is ongoing and some parts might be out of bounds from time to time.
Accessibility is good in most parts of the grounds with laid pathways. Some areas of the castle might prove difficult on occasions for people with mobility problems.
Camping and Caravanning Club Site
(Waithewaite Rd. Link) Hutton Moor End, Troutbeck, Penrith
Cumbria, England, CA11 0SX
+44 (0)1768 779 149
- Address: Askham Road, Lowther, Penrith, Cumbria, England, United Kingdom, CA10 2HH
- GPS: 54.607331,-2.741586
- Phone: 0044 (0)1931 712 192
- Part of UK: England
- Sat Nav Postcode: CA10 2HH
- Entrance Fees: Yes
- Disabled Access: Currently limited
- Visibility from Road: None
- Image Credits: Header Image: (C) ATGImages / Shutterstock.com