There are beautiful castles and stately homes in the Lake District. Most of these historic English castles you can visit. The historic country houses and castles are set in a beautiful landscape which you can often enjoy from the gardens of these historic buildings.
The Lake District National Park in Cumbria, in the North West of England, is a region full of natural beauty. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is famous for its lakes, forests, and mountains. But it has also been a source of inspiration for some of Britain’s most famous writers and poets, like William Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter, and John Ruskin.
In this post, you’ll find the best castles of the Lake District as well as stately homes and country houses in the Lake District. They have a connection to famous English writers, Kings, and Queens and each castle has its own unique history. Perfect for a day out during your holiday in the Lake District.
Castles in the Lake District
Muncaster Castle has been redesigned and extended almost every century since it was first built. The oldest part of the castle is the 14th century pele tower. in the 19th century, Anthony Salvin remodelled the castle for the Barons Muncaster. The castle is still family-owned by the Pennington family, who have lived here for 800 years.
The castle can also be rented for weddings and events. There is also holiday accommodation on the estate. Including a B&B, a 17th century inn, and a 4-star hotel.
Surrounding the castle is 77 acres of gardens with a blend of cultivated areas, lawns, and woodlands together with play areas and the Enchanted Trail for children as well as a hawk and owl centre.
Muncaster Castle visitor information: The castle and gardens are open in February Half Term. The regular opening season starts at the end of March. Visit the website for more information.
There are audio tours in English & Japanese. As well as printed guide tours in English, Dutch, Mandarin Chinese, French, German, Swedish, Russian, Spanish, German, and Thai.
Wray Castle is a Victorian neo-Gothic castle in Cumbria. The Gothic Revival castle sits on the shore of Lake Windermere which is a great area for walking and biking.
In 1882, English writer, Beatrix Potter stayed at Wray Castle. And in 1905 she bought the 17th century farm Hill Top which lies close to the castle. Over the years she also bought land surrounding the castle.
Wray Castle visitor information: Wray Castle is now in care of the National Trust. The castle is open Spring-Autumn, and the grounds are open all year long.
Lowther Castle & Gardens
Lowther Castle is the perfect family outing in the Lake District. The estate belonged to the Lowther family for 850 years and with a visit to Lowther Castle you will explore their history. The current castle was built in the 19th century but only 100 years later its contents were removed leaving only a shell.
Now you can visit the dramatic ruins, the extensively restored and beautiful gardens (including the Western Terrace with views of Lowther Valley and the Lake District mountains, and an adventure playground. There are walking and cycling paths so you can explore the entire estate.
Lowther Castle visitor information: The castle and gardens are open daily all year round. Visit the website.
Though the name suggests otherwise, Sizergh is not a castle but a stately home in the Lake District. Sizergh origins date back to a 14th century solar tower and the estate has been in the Strickland family for more than 750 years.
The house features some of England’s finest Elizabethan overmantels and oak-paneled interiors. Some of the paneling was sold to the Victoria & Albert Museum in the 1890s, but in 1999 the paneling returned to Sizergh on a long-term loan. The house also features a large collection of paintings.
Surrounding the house is parkland which includes a limestone rock garden, wildflowers and water gardens.
Sizergh visitor information: Sizergh Castle is a National Trust property and open to the public April-October.
Located on a strategic position overlooking the Stainmore Pass in the Pennine Mountains in Cumbria stands Brough Castle. The castle was built in 1092 by William Rufus on the site of an old Roman fort names Verterae. The original castle was destroyed by the Scots in the 12th century but it was rebuilt in stone.
In the 1260s, the castle became the property of the Clifford family. They added more comfortable living quarters to the castle but in 1521, the castle burned down during a Christmas feast. Lady Anne Clifford restored the castle in the 17th century but eventually, the castle fell into ruin again.
Visitor information: The castle ruin in owned by English Heritage and can it is open to visitors.
Kendal Castle is a medieval castle located on a glacial drumlin in Cumbria. The 13th century castle was built as the seat of the Barons of Kendal. Later, the castle was owned by the Parr family who is mainly known as the family of Queen Catherine Parr, the sixth wife of King Henry VIII. However, Catherine never lived at the castle as it was already in disrepair during the Tudor period.
Visitor information: the castle ruins are managed by the South Lakeland District Council and it is open to the public.
Located next to the crossing of the Rivers Lowther and Earmont stands the medieval Brougham Castle. The castle was built in the 13th century on the site of a Roman fort called Brocavum. The castle was built by Robert I de Vieuxpont as a barrier against a Scottish invasion. In 1300, the castle was visited by King Edward I of England.
Parts of the original keep have survived as well as a double gatehouse and the “Tower of League”. The castle complex has a complex of passages and spiral stairways making it an interesting castle to explore.
Visitor information: the castle is owned by English Heritage and it is open to the public.
The castle was built in the 11th century during the reign of William II. Due to its close proximity to the Scottish border, the 900 years old castle has seen several battles. The castle is now owned by English Heritage and shows its fascinating history, from the story of Mary Queen of Scots, who was imprisoned at the castle, to Bonnie Prince Charlie, and the Border Reivers. The castle is also home to the Cumbria Museum of Military Life. Visit the website for opening times.
Stately Homes and Country Houses in the Lake District
Holker Hall & Gardens
Holker Hall is a Jacobean-style country house near the seaside retreat Grange-over-Sands. The manor house has been owned by the aristocratic Cavendish family since 1756.
Between 1838-1841 the house was largely rebuilt in Jacobean style for the 7th Duke of Devonshire by architect George Webster. A fire in 1871 destroyed most of the front wing of Holker Hall. during this fire, 103 artworks were lost, including works by Salvator Rosa and Rubens.
Surrounding the house are formal gardens set within a more informal landscape of interesting trees, shrubs, and meadows.
Holker hall visitor information: Holker Hall & Gardens are open March-October; Wednesday-Sunday. Visit the website to book your ticket.
Behind the pink Georgian facade lies a country house that has been extended and remodeled from the 14th to the 18th century. In 1679 Sir Edward Hassel bought Dalemain and it has been in the family ever since. His son, Edward, built the impressive pink stone Georgian facade. These remodels connected the old buildings with the newer buildings. And inside it means you’ll find a confusion of winding passages, quaint stairways, and unexpected rooms.
Inside you’ll find a Medieval Hall, a 17th century Chinese Room with hand-painted wallpaper, and much more. The award-winning historic gardens are beautiful in every season. The gardens are set in a landscape with views of the High Fells.
Dalemain visitor information: The gardens and tearoom open in February. The house is open from April. Visit the wesbite for actual opening times.
Mirehouse Hall & Gardens
Mirehouse is a family-run manor house at the foot of the Dood and near Bassenthwaite Lake. The Spedding family has owned the house for 300 and since 1981 the house is open to the public. The “homely” country house features a nice collection of furniture and art. As well as James Spedding’s collection of Francis Bacon’s works and letters from Wordsworth, Tennyson, Southey, Thomas Carlyle, and John Constable, who were friends of the family.
On the grounds are several gardens (including a bee garden), four children’s playgrounds, a maze, and a poetry walk. There are several walking paths on the estate running through the woodland and leading to the lakeshore.
Mirehouse visitor information: The gardens and playgrounds are open daily from April-October. The house is open on Wednesday and Sunday afternoon (April-October). Visit the website for more information.
Brantwood is a historic house museum overlooking Coniston Water. The house was built in the late 18th century and it was owned by many interesting people. William James Linton (poet, political reformer), George Massey (poet and Egyptologist), and George William Kitchin (Dean of Durham Castle) all called Brantwood their home.
But the most famous resident of Brantwood was John Ruskin. Ruskin filled the house with art and other collections. Displays and activities in the house, gardens, and estate reflect Ruskin’s legacy – from the Pre Raphaelites and the Arts and Crafts Movement to the founding of the National Trust and the Welfare State.
Surrounding the house are gardens designed by John Ruskin, his cousin Joan Severn, and gardener Sally Beamish.
Brantwood visitor information: The house and gardens are open Wednesday-Sunday.
Graythwaite Hall has been home to the Sandys family for 500 years. The current Hall dates back to the 17th century, with an 18th century extension. In the 19th century, Graythwaite got its Neo-Gothic (or Neo-Tudor) appearance.
The most famous resident was Edwin Sandys (the Archbishop of York). He founded Hawkshead Grammar School, which was attended by William Wordsworth. Writer Beatrix Potter found the estate “theatrical” and one of her characters lived at Esthwaite Hall which is part of the estate.
The gardens are designed by Thomas Mawson of Windermere in 1896. But the landscape surrounding the estate is also beautiful and inspired many poets.
Graythwaite visitor information: The gardens are open from April-August. The estate also offers holiday accomondations.
See also: Visit Famous Writers’ Houses in England
Leighton Hall is a Georgian country house in Lancashire. In the 19th century, a Gothic Revival facade was added to the house. The Hall is the ancestral home of the Gillow family (known as the Gillow furniture). The family still lives in the house. The grounds include a 19th century Walled Garden and a children’s playground.
Leighton Hall visitor information: The house and grounds are open to visitors May-September.
Rydal Hall was the country house of the Fleming family. The original house was built in 1600, remains of this house are now the “Old Kitchen and Bar” in 1798 a Georgian wing was added to the hall. Since the 1940s the Hall has been used as a school, hotel, and Retreat House.
Today, Rydal Hall is used as a residential conference and retreat center. The Hall and several other buildings on the estate are now rental accommodations. And there is also a campsite.
The gardens are Rydal Hall have been developed since the 1600s. It has formal gardens, woodlands, and iconic landmarks to explore. Poet William Wordsworth was fond of the Grot on the estate. And he mentioned it in one of his poems “An Evening Walk”.
Rydal Hall visitor information: The gardens are Rydal Hall are open daily.
The history of Armathwaite Hall dates back to 1500. The courtyard and chapel were added in 1796 by Sir Frederick Fletcher-Vane. And the house was considerably enlarged in 1850.
Today, Armathwaite Hall is a luxury 4-star castle hotel and spa. Book your stay here.