Lowther Castle and Gardens Lowther Castle and Gardens lies at the heart of the landscape that inspired Wordsworth, Turner and Ruskin. Built at the height of the Romantic Period, the massive Castle and Gardens that once dominated the Cumbrian landscape and economy have been abandoned for over 50 years and now lie derelict, dangerous and inaccessible. Since 2005 the Northwest Regional Development Agency has been working with the Lowther Estate to prevent further deterioration of the ruin and to consider proposals to regenerate the site and open it for public beneďŹ t. In 2007 a charitable trust was formed to oversee the development of the Project.
Project History The ﬁrst documented house in the 12th Century was a simple “pele” tower but successive generations enhanced the building and its gardens. In 1725, a ﬁre destroyed the house and for 70 years the place stood in partial ruin. The present Castle was the ﬁrst commission of Sir Robert Smirke, who later built the British Museum. From 1939-1945, the Castle was requisitioned by the Army. Concrete was laid over much of the land to accommodate the weight of tanks brought in to test a secret weapon. In 1956, unable to ﬁnd a sustainable future for the Castle, Lord Lonsdale took the roof off the Castle, over-planted the elaborate Edwardian gardens and established an intensive chicken farm on the concrete laid by the army. For the last 50 years the Castle and its Gardens has been abandoned. In 2007 the Lowther Castle and Gardens Trust was established to lead the development of the Castle and Gardens. The Castle and Gardens site will be given to the charity by the Lowther Estate on a long lease. The relationship between the Charity and the Lowther Estate will be seamless but public access, enjoyment, regeneration and community beneﬁt are the agreed aims of all parties.
Features and Experiences The Trustees are seeking to create a destination of exceptional quality, value and innovation; a place of discovery, inspiration and learning, combining the best of contemporary culture and rural life. We want to distil the inherent beauty of the abandoned Castle and Gardens. Our aim is to involve and inform people by creating experiences that are challenging and ambitious but conscious of the natural magniďŹ cence of the landscape and the incomparable splendour of the setting.
The Castle Ruins The Castle will tell the story of the three houses that have occupied the site and the surrounding landscape.
The Hidden Gardens 120 acres of abandoned Edwardian gardens lie derelict, over-planted with trees and buried in moss and lichen.
Energy Centre A woodchip-burning energy centre will power the 130 acre site and will house a viewing gallery and classroom.
Staircase Tower The Staircase Tower will provide panoramic views of the landscape and inwards to the ruin.
Exhibitions and Galleries The Sculpture Gallery and Castle ruin will accommodate exhibition and gallery facilties.
Events and Performance The ruins will form a setting for events and performances.
140 acres of Park The largest landscaped park in England will be opened for the ďŹ rst time.
Shopping and Eating The highest quality retail and catering facilities will be located in the former Stables.
A Charitable Trust The project is led by the Lowther Castle and Gardens Trust, a charity whose objectives are the advancement of education, culture, arts and heritage and to promote local involvement, public access and community beneﬁt. Bryan Gray MBE DL Bryan is Chair of the Trust and also Chair of the Northwest Regional Development Agency. Bryan was Chief Executive of Baxi Group Limited. Until 2001 he was Chairman of Preston North End and is Founder Chairman of the National Football Museum. He is Pro Chancellor of Lancaster University, a member of the Lake District National Park Authority, a trustee of National Museums Liverpool, Chair of the Liverpool Culture Company, Chairman of Urban Splash Hotels and Chairman of Westmorland Motorway Services. Sir Neil Cossons OBE FSA FMA Sir Neil was Chairman of English Heritage until his retirement in March 2007. He was Director of the Science Museum, Director of Ironbridge Museum and of the Greenwich Maritime Museum. Sir Neil is a trustee of National Museums Liverpool and has broadcast and published widely. Jim Lowther Jim manages the Lowther Estate’s land, art and property interests and is responsible for the upland livestock and organic farming in Lowther Park. Jim heads the management of the Lowther Forestry Group and the supervision of the Lowther Estate’s mountains and moorlands in partnership with the National Trust. Jim founded Lowther Manelli properties which is leading the development of Penrith town centre in partnership with Eden District Council.
Charles Woodhouse CVO DL Charles was a partner of Farrers & Co Solicitors and was solicitor to HRH the Duke of Edinburgh. He is a trustee for numerous national charities, including Athletics Foundation, the Mulberry Trust and Aim Foundation in Cumbria, he is a trustee of Hospice at Home: Carlisle and North Lakeland and the Cumbria Community Foundation. Charles was Chairman of Rural Regeneration Cumbria between 2002 and 2006 and is a non executive director of Cumbria Vision. Joan Stocker Joan is Deputy Leader of Cumbria County Council. She is a member of Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet, the North West Regional Development Agency Scrutiny Group and is the Chair and Board Member of the company established to deliver the Lakes Market Town Initiative funding programme. Matthew Wilson Matthew is the Curator and Head of the RHS Garden Harlow Carr. Matthew is a regular columnist for the Daily Telegraph and has contributed to a number of publications including Gardeners World Magazine and Garden Life and his television credits include Gardeners World, BBC Garden of the Year, the Plantsman and the Chelsea Flower Show coverage. The Rt Hon Lord Melvyn Bragg BA, DUniv, LLD, DLitt, DCL, FRSL, FRTS Born in Cumbria, Melvyn Bragg is Chancellor of Leeds Unversity, President of the National Campaign for the Arts and a governor of the London School of Economics. He was made Domus Fellow, St Catherine’ College, Oxford, in 1990. He became a member of the Arts Council Literature Panel in 1969 and subsequently became Chairperson.
Tell us what you think... If you want to contribute to the stories that we tell or have an idea that we can incorporate into our plans, please let us know. You can contact us via email or telephone us using the details below. David Horton-Fawkes Project Director The Lowther Castle and Gardens Trust Lowther, Penrith CA10 2HG T M E
(01931) 712192 (07753) 722464 firstname.lastname@example.org