(See also Ullswater)

Dalemain Garden by Barbara BallardA short distance from Ullswater where the Lakeland fells become rolling countryside is Dalemain, a medieval and early Georgian house. The pale rose sandstone front of the house is 18th century. Behind it lies a building that dates back to Saxon times when a small fort was established on the site. The oldest part of the home that still survives is a Norman pele tower that now contains the regimental collection of the Westmorland and Cumberland Yeomanry.

The house was originally owned by the brother (John de Morville) of one of Thomas à Becket's murderers. Buildings surrounding the cobbled courtyard were added by the Laytons, who owned Dalemain from the 13th to 17th centuries. A hall was added, then two wings. The old parts of the building have typical winding passageways and staircases connecting different levels. A medieval stone-vaulted hall is now a restaurant. The Fretwork room has a 16th century plaster ceiling and oak panelling. A Priest's hidey-hole opens to the housekeeper's room-originally the priest had to climb the kitchen chimney. There is an old stone spiral staircase.

In 1679 Sir Edward Hasell (knighted by William III) purchased Dalemain. A 1730 wineglass engraved with the Hasell coat of arms is called the “Luck of Dalemain” and is located in the haunted solar. The house is still owned and lived in by the Hasell descendants.

Dalemain House by Barbara BallardThe 18th century house with its nine-bayed front contains the Chinese drawing room that features handpainted wallpaper with peonies, butterflies, and pheasants. An English fireplace is carved with dragons, and Chinese Chippendale chairs add to the decor. An 18th century cantilevered oak staircase leads upward from the entrance hall. Family portraits, china, glass, and silver collections decorate the home along with furniture by Gillow.

A nursery houses interesting toys. Be sure not to miss Mrs. Mouse's house on the stairs. A countryside museum consists of early farm buildings-including a 16th century barn-around a courtyard. An exhibit on fell ponies is part of the museum.

Dalemain's gardens were first planted in medieval times. An herb garden is now a knot garden, planted with tulips and herb beds bordered with box hedges. In the summer a herbaceous border snuggles up to a terrace wall. Tulips and more than 100 kinds of old-fashioned roses adorn the grounds. Ancient apple trees lead to a gazebo set into the 18th century wall. A wild garden contains flowering shrubs and wildflowers. The blue Himalayan poppies are especially notable. An 18th century tulip tree and the UK's largest silver fir tree reside in the grounds. A park and woodland provide riverside walks.

Dalemain, at the junction of Dacre Beck and Eamont in Eden, is a family home that reflects its centuries of occupation and provides an interesting experience for visitors.

Dalemain is 4 miles southwest of Penrith on the A592 one mile south of the A66.

Open: April-Oct, Sun-Thu; house 11.15am-4pm but closed 1-1.30pm; gardens, tea-room, gift shop, plant sales and museum 10:30am-5pm; Nov-mid Dec, tea-room and gardens only, Sun-Thu, 11am-4pm
Tel. 017684 86450
Website: www.dalemain.com

Note: Please check opening times and dates before visiting in case of changes.

Photos by Barbara Ballard

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