At the top of the park stand the imposing remains of Lowther Castle and its hidden Gardens. The 130 acres of gardens and grounds were opened to visitors once in 1938 but after being used to test a secret tank weapon during the Second World War, the place was dismantled and abandoned. Now the castle, its massive stables, gardens and over 140 acres of parkland are once again being brought to life.
Work began in April 2011 after the castle and gardens were leased to the independent charity, the Lowther Castle & Gardens Trust on a project supported by the Northwest Regional Development Agency, the European Regional Development fund and the Lowther Estate Trust.
The planned works will stabilise the castle, reveal the shapes and structures of the 17th century gardens and the overlying Edwardian gardens and create a high-quality visitor centre, education facilites and the Lowther Gallery and are currently well underway.
The 70 years of deterioration in the stable courtyard has been reversed and now includes a café, loos and a meeting room. There is also a gift shop which is now open. The new Lowther Gallery is planned for 2014.
The gardens are now open to the public and are constantly changing as the gardeners reveal much of the lost history and continue to reclaim them. There is also plenty of wildlife which is actively being encouraged, ensuring the creatures that were there before the work started don't move out and newcomers have now started to move in - from red squirrels, badgers and deer to many birds(including a heronry) and the rare Crested Newts.
Please visit the Lowther Gardens and Castle website for news and details.
The castle ruin will be stabilised but it will not be re-built. The ruin will tell the story of the houses that have occupied the site, the surrounding landscape and the stories of the people who have lived and worked at Lowther.
Exhibitions and galleries
Contents of the castle were sold in the largest-ever series of country house sales in 1947 but the Trustees retained some of the finest pieces of silver, gold, paintings and antiques which were stored or lent to great houses and galleries throughout England. The Lowther Collection will at last return to its home, re-united in the Lowther Gallery, designed especially for the choicest collection of art and antiques in the northwest which is now planned to open in 2014.
Retail and catering
High quality retail and catering facilities in the Stable Courtyard will showcase the best of Cumbrian produce.
The record of the 130 acre gardens is extensive. The layout dates from the 17th Century but the present gardens are Edwardian and all lie buried under spruce and sycamore planted in the 1960's. There are over 20 different gardens at Lowther including a Japanese Garden, a Scented Garden, and an Iris Garden. The 17th century garden will be revealed, the remains of the Edwardian structures left in their romantic state, covered in moss and lichen.
The first floor of the stables will become holiday apartments.
A new car park, sculpted into land adjacent to the Stable Courtyard but screened from it, will serve the castle, grounds and parkland.
140 acres of park
The Castle will be re-united with the land between the Castle and the River Lowther to create in phases 140 acres of parkland, paths and bridges, with access for all, and open another 360 acres of ancient woodland.