Situated on Cartmel peninsula's wooded slopes, Holker Hall, home to Lord and Lady Cavendish, is a lived-in mansion. The site was once owned by Cartmel Priory but since has been owned by only three families-the Prestons, Lowthers, and Cavendishes (Dukes of Devonshire).
It has seen a number of changes over the centuries. An original home on the site dated from the 16th century. The present one was constructed by the Prestons in the 17th century. The estate came into the Cavendish family in the 18th century and underwent further construction. In 1756 Lord George Cavendish landscaped the grounds and added north and east wings. In 1838-1842 it was altered by Lord Burlington and its chimneys and mullioned windows changed its style to Gothic. Stables and a conservatory were among the additions.
In 1871 a fire destroyed the west wing and many antiques, requiring a rebuilding by the 7th Duke of Devonshire. Noted architects Paley and Austin were chosen for the job. The red sandstone west wing was reconstructed in the Elizabethan style. It is the only part open to the public.
Four rooms on the ground floor remain in almost original condition. The dining room, long gallery, billiard room, and the Duke's bedroom are on show. A Wedgwood Dressing room contains a collection of Jasper ware. Jasper ware is a type of unglazed stoneware, first introduced by Josiah Wedgwood in 1775. The pottery comes in green, blue, lilac, and other colors and is decorated with mostly white designs typical of Greek reliefs. Its name comes from its hardness, resembling that of natural stone jasper.
The drawing room walls are graced by silk wall hangings from Macclesfield. Linenfold panelling and interior carving are of note. Of further interest is the hand carved (by Holker estate workers) cantilevered, grand staircase. Each baluster is different. Marble chimneys show off local stone. An embroidered panel by Mary, Queen of Scots, is on display.
A family collection of classical furniture ranges from Louis XV to Victorian. Included are furnishings by Chippendale. There is an estate rent table. Fine and decorative arts are on view. Family portraits and other paintings, some by notable artists, decorate the walls. Of special note is the library collection of 3500 books some by a Cavendish family scientist and recluse who discovered nitric acid.
Award winning gardens and a deer park surround the house, and old estate cottages still exist. This family home is well worth a visit.
Holker Hall and Gardens
Five miles west of Grange-over-Sands by Cark; B5277/B5278
Tel. 01539 58328
Cafe and shop.
Open: April – end October, Sun – Fri; Hall 11am-4pm; Gardens 10.30am-4.30pm except until 5.30pm in July and August
Crafts and Countryside Museum.
Special events throughout the year.
Victorian and wartime kitchen exhibition.
For more on Jasper ware see www.wedgwood.co.uk
Note: Please check opening times and dates before visiting in case of changes.
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