Opening Times

We are open Wednesday – Sunday 10am – 5pm
Café, Gardens, Gift Shop, Food Hall Hall
Wed - Sun 10:00am - 5pm 11:00am - 4pm

The Hall

The heart of Holker and home to Lucy Cavendish and her husband Tor McLaren. We invite you to immerse yourself in the family history, stunning architecture and beautiful interiors. Every turn of your journey will reveal a different visual splendour as you navigate between the formal and informal rooms of this beautiful family home. 

Tours

We would like you to explore the Hall with as few restrictions as possible. You may wander in your own time and without interruption or prefer to learn from one of our dedicated Guides, whose long experience and extensive research makes them a rich source of historical facts, gossip and amusing trivia. Borrow one of our tablets from the front desk to enhance and further inform your visit by enjoying an interactive and digital experience. 

A Storied History

The earliest records of a house on the present site date back to the beginning of the 16th Century. The Estate has never been bought or sold, but has passed by inheritance through just three families: the Prestons, the Lowthers and the Cavendishes, with each generation leaving its impressions, either by planning and altering the landscape or by changing the house by adding, re-facing, embellishing or even rebuilding – as was necessary after the disastrous fire of 1871. 

The fire destroyed the entire west wing, including numerous paintings, pieces of furniture, statues, portraits and valuable books. Undaunted by this catastrophe, William Cavendish, the 7th Duke of Devonshire, began plans to rebuild the west wing on an even grander scale, and employed the architects Paley and Austin of Lancaster. Built in red sandstone, it was described by Pevsner as the best Elizabethan Gothic in the North of England. This wing is the part of the house that is now open to the public. It covers the same site as the previous wing, and despite its emulation of Elizabethan architecture, it remains unmistakably Victorian. 

 

It is a marvellous reflection of its age with its atmosphere of confidence, spaciousness and prosperity, and the craftsmanship in many of the rooms is outstanding. The Library contains a collection of 3,500 books, many of which survived the great fire and others subsequently brought from Chatsworth. Furniture, always popular with visitors, includes the Estate Rent Table, work by Chippendale, the Regulator Clock and the Nursery Yacht. The grand staircase was hand carved by Estate Workers and works on the cantilever principle, with every baluster having a unique design. 

Holker has always been loved by its owners, with the 7th Duke preferring it to any of his other properties, and in 1908 when the house was left to the grandfather of Lord Cavendish, and not to his elder brother Victor, the Duke muttered bitterly ‘Holker, the best loved house in England’. He and his family left in tears with a photograph to record the occasion.