The land where Holker Hall stands today was purchased by the Preston family following the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century. The family were local landowners in the area and the first of the family to live there was George Preston in the early part of the 16th century. George’s successor to the estate, Thomas had the lands confiscated from him by parliament during the English Civil War but it was later returned. Thomas left no male heirs to the estate and it was inherited following the marriage of his heiress, Catherine who married Sir William Lowther, 1st Baronet, belonging to the prominent Lowther family of Cumbria and the Eden Valley in particular. In the 17th century the estate passed to Lord George Cavendish the son of William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire from his cousin the heirless Sir William Lowther, 3rd Baronet. It has stayed in the Cavendish family ever since. It was Lord George who planted new parkland at Holker including the Lebanese Cedar trees.
The estate passed through generations of the Cavendish family and was the favoured home of the 7th Duke of Devonshire who upon leaving the house was said to have shed a tear at his departing. The house had been largely rebuilt by the renowned architect George Webster of Kendal in the 1840’s and had been built in the Jacobean revival style, parkland buildings included a conservatory designed by the head gardener at Chatsworth House, Joseph Paxton who’s design at Chatsworth led to him designing the Crystal Palace for Queen Victoria’s Great Exhibition in 1851.
Sadly in March 1871, a great fire destroyed much of the New Wing built some 30 years earlier destroying over 100 pieces of art work including pieces by Holbein, Sir Godfrey Kneller and Canaletto to name a few. The Duke commissioned Paley of Lancaster to rebuild the wing on the same foot print but on an even grander scale, adding two new towers to the Hall. It was built in the Elizabethan Revival style that we see at the hall today.
Today the estate is in the good hands of The Hon. Lucy Cavendish and is thriving. A visit to Holker is a must for anyone in Cumbria whether on holiday or for a local day out. There is sure to be something to catch your eye whether it’s the Chippendale furniture, grand hall with the fireplace where the marble from the hall before the fire was reused to make the chimneypiece and sandstone fireplace engraved with the date of the fire or the magnificent staircase lined with family portraits. Outside the hall has wonderful gardens and parkland that you can get lost in as though you’re stepping foot in the set from Pride & Prejudice.
The Hall has many exciting events on throughout the year including some of the events listed below, including the extremely popular Chilli Fest and festive Winter Markets that are always a big hit and be sure to visit for the Christmas opening where the hall is decorated in tasteful garlands and beautiful tinselled trees.
The wonderful thing about Holker is that it feels so very welcoming for a country seat, from the staff and volunteers who you will meet along your way everyone is sure to welcome you with a smile and lots of great information and passion for the whole place.
You can grab a bite to eat or have a browse in the wonderful gift and food shops. Holker Hall really is one of the country’s finest country houses and one that should be seen by everyone!
Chilli Fest – 5th & 6th September
Halloween Events – 31st October & 1st November
Winter Markets – 6th, 7th & 8th November
Christmas Opening – 27th-29th Nov / 3rd-6th Dec / 10th-13th Dec / 17th-20th Dec
For more information on how to plan your day out check out the website at https://www.holker.co.uk