Everything we do comes from the land. Our approach to our land and property uses the best of modern methods, but within the constraints of an ancient landscape. The Lowther family has been farming here for over 800 years, with broadly the same approach - making the best use of what is naturally here.
In 1677, the 21 year-old newly succeeded 2nd Baronet, Sir John Lowther,
“...came therefore into the Country, and finding noe garden nor house to tempt my posteritie to live at, as is most assuredly their interest, I formed my design therefore of beautifying the seat, and making it so convenient, that those that should come after might have no excuse in seeking their ruin by seeking out another habitation.”
He set out his philosophy in a letter to his 3 year-old son, and all generations since have been conservationists with an interest in the past and the future of the landscape.
The 7th Earl of Lonsdale was a keen supporter of conservation of wild life and countryside and a forward looking agriculturalist. A short Latin epitaph on his headstone in Lowther churchyard includes the words ‘agri lowtheriana servator’, meaning ‘preserver of the lands of Lowther’.
Farming in an ancient landscape means paying great attention to detail and making allowances for it. We allow ourselves to be hampered by the geology, ancient trees, pastures, archaeological remains, and work within that constraint. For example, we use the best traditional breeds rather than rare breeds. Lowther Park Farms adopts a conventional farming regime to standards that exceed Farm Assured and Free Range criteria.
We re-build half a kilometre a year of stone walls. In the last few years we have planted six kilometres of new hedges, rather than settle for fencing. We have a programme of hedgelaying, not just hedge-cutting. Champion hedgelayers Robert Bell and Andy Kirkwood run courses at Lowther to teach others the local ‘Westmorland style’ of this ancient skill.
Over 300 trees are planted each year in the parkland. Many are sited using planting schemes prepared by Capability Brown in the 18th century but not implemented until now. Acorns of ‘Jack’s yak’ the giant, ancient oak that stands at the entrance to the North Park, are grown in Lowther’s tree nursery then planted out in the parkland.
If we are repairing a building, we do it in a way that is kind to the building, never developing it to the point of being unrecognisable. With the Castle, we are not trying to put the roof back on, or recreate the past, or build a modernist dream, we’re fixing it in the state it is in and letting people see it as it is. It takes effort, but gives more natural results, unique too.
The estate has a no-shooting policy regarding reared pheasants and other game in Lowther Park. The only shooting is for the deer cull and rough shooting for rabbits etc.