Lowther Castle stands on a site occupied by the Lowther family for over 800 years. It sits in a 3,000 acre medieval deer park, which is part of a 75,000 acre agricultural estate within Cumbria's Lake District National Park. The Gothic Revival building, now partially ruined, was the third home to be built on the site. It was designed by Robert Smirke for the first Earl of Lonsdale and was completed in 1806.
After the castle was requisitioned by the army during the second world war the sixth Earl sold the castle contents in 1947. In 1957 the seventh Earl removed the roof and interior structures of the building, which was the only way to retain the building in some form whilst protecting the rest of the estate from a £25 million death duty bill. The gardens were then used to house a large chicken farm and commercial forestry business, with chicken sheds and Sitka spruce right up close to the castle ruins. The surrounding historic gardens were left to decay for forty years.
We were first appointed in 2008 to provide a landscape and gardens masterplan for a Heritage Lottery Fund application for the cultural redevelopment of the castle and gardens. Our original masterplan was then taken on by Land Use Consultants, who oversaw the initial stages of the resuscitation of the historic landscape, including the reinstatement of the South Lawn at the rear of the castle.
Since our re-appointment in 2011 we have developed and implemented several elements of the masterplan including a new Parterre Garden built on the site of the previous Lowther castle ruins, new plantings to the castle interior and landscaping of the Arrival Courtyard, which will be planted with specimen hornbeam topiary in January 2017. We are working closely with the Head Gardener to develop plans for a new Rose Garden on the site of the historic Rose Garden, which is scheduled to open in 2018. We are also currently developing plans for the landscaping around a new Bike Hub.
Photographs: Claire Takacs
2008 - ongoing
Client: Lowther Castle & Gardens Trust 46 hectares