Holker Hall and Gardens
Tel:- 015395 58328
Holker Hall is a large Grade II listed country house with extensive gardens situated on the Cartmel Peninsula, close to the villages of Cark and Flookburgh, and just under 2 miles from Cartmel and it's racecourse. It is the family home of Lord and Lady Cavendish.
Open to the public are:-
- Part of the house.
- The extensive gardens and adjoining parkland.
- A food hall, gift shop and cafe.
- A childrens' adventure playground.
The house dates from the 16th century, with alterations and additions in the 18th and 19th centuries. However, it is also a family home so only a portion of it is open to the public.
That which is available to visit is the rebuilt west wing. The original west wing was destroyed by a fire in 1871. Re-built in red sandstone in Elizabethan revival style, the new west wing covered the same site as the previous building, but according to critics of the time, was far grander. Despite many items of value being lost in the fire there is plenty to see, including Chippendale furniture, fine paintings and a rare collection of books.
The house is on two floors. The ground floor features the great hall, the long gallery, the library, which contains 3,500 books, a billiards room featuring several works of art, a sumptuously decorated dining room and the drawing room. Those with an interest in fine furniture will find plenty to examine and admire.
On the upper floor are four individual bedrooms, each with a story to tell within it's furnishings, and with bathrooms modernised in the early 1900's. Linking the ground and first floors is a superb staircase in which each of the 100 or so baluster rails has been individually carved with a different design.
Unlike many of the nation's larger stately homes, there are no roped off areas, and visitors are free to wander through the rooms as they wish. Guides are on hand to answer questions, and a guide book is available at extra cost.
There are 25 acres of gardens at Holker, ranging from the informality of the woodland gardens to the well manicured formality of the topiary garden. Beyond the gardens are 200 acres of parkland. To aid visitors a series of garden walks of varying lengths has been designed. A free leaflet featuring these is available.
Of particular note is the Holker Great Lime, which was designated one of The Tree Council’s 50 Great British Trees in 2002. The last time it was measured in 1992 it was 72 feet high, and measured 25ft around it's trunk, vital statistics it has taken 400 years to achieve.
The story of Holker starts with the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century. Prior to then the land upon which it stands was owned and managed by the monks of Cartmel Priory, but when the monastery ceased to exist the land was bought by the Preston family, and the first element of the house was built
The Prestons were royalists and in 1644 the estate was confiscated by Parliament. At the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 it was restored to the Preston family, apparently largely unscathed. Since then the estate has passed by inheritance from the Preston family to the Lowther Family, and then to the current owners, the Cavendish family, who have been in ownership since 1756.
A number of alterations have been made to the house in the past 250 yeas, including a major rebuild in 1838 by the Seventh Duke of Devonshire, William Cavendish. In 1871 the west wing of the house was almost completely destroyed by fire, necessitating another extensive rebuild. Completed in red sandstone, the new building is the part of the house that is now open to the public.
and finally .....
Holker is pronounced Hooker by those who live and work in the area, and generally Holker by those on holiday and who do not know the area.