For our last full day in Cartmel we decided to visit Holker Hall, the local stateley home. We’d had a long day the day before so had a little lie in and so only set out after 11 o’clock. We could have driven to the Hall but it was another fine day and it was only a couple of miles away so we decided to go on foot – a little less carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere!
The building dates from the 16th century, and so originally Jacobean in style, but there have been substantial alterations and additions over the years, especially during the 18th and 19th centuries. There was a major fire in 1871 which destroyed the west wing and most of it’s contents, in 1871. It was rebuilt in an “Jacobean revival” style.
The land on which the house stands was originally owned by Cartmel Priory but following the dissolution of the monasteries during the reign of Henry VIII it was bought by the Preston family, who were local landowners. Through marriage the estate passed to the Lowther family and then to the Cavendish, the same family as the Dukes of Devonshire. Today the older part of the house is occupied by Lucy Carrington, the daughter of Lord Cavendish, the Tory peer.Like Chatsworth, the home of their relatives, the rest of the house and most of the grounds are open to the public – for a fee, of course!
We started by exploring the house. The west wing, although still used by the family, is open to the public. Lucy Cavendish lives in the older part of the house which is “out of bounds”.
This is the Library on the ground floor – a large display of books being de-rigueur for all grand houses. I wonder how many were actually read? I bet many f them were just on display to show how cultured the owners were!
One particularly fascinating exhibit here, for me, were the microscope that had been owned and used by the brilliant, but eccentric, scientist, Henry Cavendish (I’m sure he was on the autistic spectrum). Couldn’t avoid reflections, unfortunately.
The Drawing Room
The dining room – the painting over the fireplace is a self portrait by Van Dyke
The main staircase. All the carvings in the rebuilt wing were created by local craftsmen.
Upstairs – the Long Gallery, a recreation of a typical feature of grand Elizabethan and Jacobean houses
The Wedgewood Bedroom
Named after the collection of blue and white Wedgwood Jasper ware in the Dressing Room.
One of the grand bedrooms
“Queen Mary’s bedroom” – where the wife of King George VI stayed when she visited in 1937
Then we explored the gardens. They are very extensive – 23 acres with a series of formal gardens set within a more informal landscape and woodland – and we really didn’t have enough time to see everything. But on a sunny Spring day, with flowers and blossom coming into bloom, we enjoyed wandering around.
We stayed almost to closing time and then headed back towards Cartmel through the pleasant countryside, with a good view towards Hampsfell