Published: 29 January 2024

Holker Hall has been in the Cavendish family for centuries. Coming to the family through marriage in 1756, the Hall is practically a part of the current owner’s DNA. So, when Lucy Cavendish took over the management of Holker in 2014, she already knew all of its secrets, and was excited to continue Holker’s long history. But where did it all begin?

Holker Hall: A Family Timeline

  • Holker Hall began life with the dissolution of the monasteries. The land, which had once been owned by Cartmel Priory, was purchased by George Preston in the early 16th century. Construction on Holker Hall began shortly after.
  • The Hall remained in the Preston family until 1664, when it was briefly seized by parliament, before being returned to its rightful owners.
  • 33 years later, in 1697, the last of the Preston family – Catherine, daughter of Thomas Preston – married into the Lowther family, taking Holker Hall with her. The Lowthers retained Holker Hall until it again passed by marriage into the Cavendish family in 1756. The first Cavendish to have their name on the Hall’s deed was Lord George Augustus Cavendish, Lucy Cavendish’s very great grandfather.

Having been owned by what is essentially one extended family, Holker Hall is in the enviable position of being able to trace a very long history. And most of the artefacts held within the Hall have been passed down through the generations. So, Lucy Cavendish grew up with them.

The Holker family today

Today, Holker Hall is owned and occupied by Lucy Cavendish and her husband Tor McLaren. Lucy took over the stewardship of the Hall when her father, Lord Cavendish, retired in 2014. But, in a break from tradition, she is not the eldest of the Cavendish children. Nor is she without male siblings. Her older brother, Frederick, preferred to take an alternative career path. But for Lucy, Holker Hall remained a passion.

As a talented artist, Lucy worked in various parts of the world, establishing a studio in New York before taking up the reins of Holker. But although successful in her own right, Holker Hall held too much of a draw for her.  And when offered the chance to return home, she leapt at it. Two years later, she was joined there by her new husband, Tor.

The future of Holker Hall

Maintaining the history of Holker Hall is incredibly important to Both Lucy and Tor. But, like all of the previous owners, they also want to make their mark on the estate. And their focus is sustainability. That’s why local materials and local craftspeople are always used whenever possible for any repairs or improvements to the Hall and gardens. And why there is a focus on local products in Holker Hall’s café and shops.

But more than anything else, Lucy and Tor consider themselves as the custodians of Holker Hall. Safeguarding the estate for future generations. As the Cavendish family have done for the last 268 years.