Published: 24 January 2024

Whether you’re debating visiting Holker Hall before or are a seasoned visitor, there might be a few fascinating details you’re unaware of. Our magnificent gardens and authentic stately home are steeped in history and brimming with mystery and intrigue. Explore and discover more than what meets the eye.

The 1871 Fire Wreckage

The house was originally built in the early 17th century. However, in 1871, it was almost destroyed by a disastrous fire. William Cavendish and his daughter, Louisa (the then keepers of the hall), would have to recruit some of the most renowned architects and designers of the time to rebuild Holker to its latest style. Holker was constructed from only the finest materials, many of which were sourced from the estate post-fire. This was thanks to the help of church architects Paley and Austin of Lancaster.

The History of our Paintings & Interiors

Following on from the 1871 fire, the majority of things in the house at the time had been lost in the wreckage and, therefore, were unsalvageable. Thankfully, Louisa Cavendish had an impeccable eye and immaculate taste, and she is responsible for the interiors you see today. The vast majority of paintings and furniture were brought to the hall from Chatsworth House, the family residence in Derbyshire. The decoration elements pay tribute to the interiors lost in the fire.

Worked on by Numerous Great Gardeners

Many of the top Great British Gardeners have worked on our gardens over the years. Consider Kim Wilkie, a contemporary landscape architect, who worked with the resident family most recently. These various artists sought to convey not only the prevailing styles but also their own unique and occasionally eccentric preferences. We’ve witnessed the artistic addition of touches to our meadows, woodlands, bushes, ferns, and so on, all spread across the 23-acre landscape. There’s no wonder why our gardens are so desired by our visitors.

The 400 year old Holker Great Lime

Yes you read that correctly – our great Lime tree is, as of today, over 400 years old! With its 25ft (7.9m) wide fluted trunk, this magnificent specimen is designated one of The Tree Council’s 50 Great British Trees. In  the early 1700’s it was very much the fashion to pleach and trim your trees, which therefore made the Lime tree a favourite for gardens of the time. The Holker Lime has survived all this time and is one of the few first formal garden elements to still be here today. Since then, it has been carefully tended by generations of owners and gardeners. 

The Sunken Garden, Designed by Thomas Mawson

As previously mentioned, many of the top Great British Gardeners have worked on our gardens over the years. One area in particular, lying at the heart of the garden, is the romantic Sunken Garden. The semi-circular stone structure, with terraces and a deep water trough, was designed by Thomas Mawson in the early 20th century. Mawson was a prolific and influential designer who carried out numerous commissions throughout Britain. With views of the estuary and fells, our peaceful garden is blissfully sheltered, a suntrap heavy with scent and the buzz of bees.

So there it is, just a couple of interesting facts that you might not have known about Holker Hall. Fancy taking a look at the Hall & Gardens for yourself? Book your visit today through our visit page here –