Holker Hall dates from the sixteenth century, although the attractive red sandstone house that exists today is largely Victorian, built after a massive fire destroyed the original in 1871. Stepping into the home of Lucy Cavendish, whose family have owned the estate since 1756, and her husband Tor McLaren, visitors are immediately struck by how bright and cheery this elegant old hall is. Light pours into the library, home to 3500 books, and many of the upstairs bedrooms through huge canted bay windows. At the end of the downstairs hallway, you pass through an imposing archway of polished limestone to reach a cantilevered staircase, each of its oak balusters intricately carved with a different design. Among the many other interior highlights is the Long Gallery, a Victorian interpretation of the original Elizabethan gallery, where the family would’ve played carpet bowls.
Outside are 25 acres of neat, landscaped gardens and a further 200 acres of parkland, home to flocks of grazing sheep, fallow deer and a 400-year-old lime tree. With a girth of about 26ft – try wrapping your arms around that! – the tree was named one of 50 ‘Great British Trees’ to mark the Queen’s golden jubilee in 2002.
At the main entrance to the hall and gardens is a spacious courtyard area containing a café, food hall and restaurant. There’s also a small gift shop.
Holker Hall is located on the western side of the Cartmel peninsula, less than one mile north of the Cark & Cartmel station on the Furness Railway Line between Barrow-in-Furness and Lancaster. It can also be reached from the A590, by following the B5278 south from Haverthwaite for about five miles.