This ruined Gothic castle belongs to the Earls of Lonsdale and its rugged shell testifies to the extravagant spending of the 5th Earl.
You’ll find the ruins of Lowther Castle in the middle of the Lake District. The Lowther family, now the Earls of Lonsdale, can trace their family history back to the arrival of the Vikings. The current building was completed in 1812 and is built in the Gothic style, designed by architect Robert Smirke, also known for designing the British Museum. At one point the castle had a different room for every year! The painter JMW Turner found inspiration for a watercolour as the building work was being completed and painted ‘Lowther Castle - Evening’ in 1810.
The Earls of Lonsdale had friends in high places, and the 5th Earl, Hugh Cecil Lowther, hosted Kaiser Wilhelm II at the castle in 1895 and again in 1902. The kings of Italy and Portugal also came to stay, making the most of opportunities for grouse-shooting nearby.
However, Hugh Cecil was an extravagant socialite and the family ran out of money in 1937. They had to close the castle, and its contents were sold and the roof, doorknobs and keyholes removed in 1957 to pay taxes.
The castle has recently undergone a £9 million restoration project and is now managed by the Lowther family. Rather than attempting to rebuild the castle and erase the history of family ruin, they have kept the castle’s shell and added their own layer of history to it for the modern visitor. The inside of the castle has become a garden and there’s now an exhibition about the Lowther Story. The gardens, first planted with lots of greenery and leaves by the first Viscount Lonsdale, have changed over the years and have recently been redesigned by Dan Pearson.