Wray Castle, Cumbria, English Lake District

by Veronica

Nestled overlooking Windermere is a castle, but not your standard Medieval Castle. This is a castle, less than 200 years old. I went today.

Wray Castle is what is known as a Gothic Revival building and sits overlooking Windermere in Cumbria (formerly Cumberland) in the English Lake District.

Gothic Revival was a style of architecture which started in England during 18thCentury and continued in to the 19th Century. It includes moulding, turrets. lancet windows.

Background Information

19thC Liverpool obstetrician and surgeon, Dr James Dawson, retired with his wife Margaret (nee Preston) to a cottage named Wray Cottage in 1836. Mrs Dawson had inherited a large quantity of money from her father who was a wine merchant in Liverpool. The Dawsons bought land surrounding the cottage. 

Mrs Dawson's family, The Preston family had backed the wrong side in the English Civil War , backing the English King Charles who was later beheaded when England became a republic. They had held lands locally and Mrs Dawson seems to have been happy to return to her family's part of the world.

The location

the view from the front of the castle
the view from the front of the castle

The Great Storm of 1839

The Great Storm of 1839 was a huge storm which hit Britain in January 1839, and caused severe   damage to property and several deaths.  It was the worst storm in Northern England for years.

Dr Dawson was away in Liverpool but his wife was at home in Wray Cottage and she and her servants tried to secure the house. Next morning though the cottage was badly damaged and while the property was repaired the Dawsons set about to move to something larger; they had a castle built in Gothic Revival style. 

The castle was designed by architects John Jackson Lightfoot and Henry Horner and took 7 years to complete. 

Over the next 10 years the Dawsons built a gate house lodge, a church and boat houses. They had a lovely estate by the lake. 

The Castle now

The entrance
The entrance


The Castle was given to National Trust in 1926 and has had a variety of uses but in 2014 started to open for visitors and day trippers. 

It is a fine house with some superb features and is a very good place to visit. It has 22 roofs! 

Even the traditional arrow slit windows ( above ) have been included in this not so ancient castle. Arrows of course weren't used for castle defence in 19thC!

Slit windows for arrows
Slit windows for arrows

Feature ceilings

This ceiling is painted over the plaster work. 

The ceiling of the information roof
The ceiling of the information roof

My favourite thing

The house is being restored gradually and also researched. It is a work in progress. I loved this fireplace. The floor tiles in the entrance hall are beautiful but these fireplace tiles in the morning room are spectacular!

Victorian tiled fireplace
Victorian tiled fireplace

The front

This is the view coming up towards it from the lake. 

An imposing frontage
An imposing frontage

Fireplace and floor tiles.

This is a feature fireplace decorated for Fall/ Autumn. It is in the front entrance hall and it shows the beautiful Victorian hall floor tiles. 

Ready for Fall/ Autumn
Ready for Fall/ Autumn


These wood panels go up the staircase. They are in excellent condition. 


wood panelling
wood panelling

To visit

This castle was visited by Beatrix Potter the famous author when she was a girl and a visit to Beatrix Potter's Hilltop and also Wray Castle would be possible on the same day as they are close by. 

Do visit this lovely castle which while not a traditional British castle is well worth visiting. 

Updated: 10/24/2019, Veronica
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Veronica on 11/19/2019

Lovely thank you.
I tend to prefer the off the beaten track places,

Mira on 11/19/2019

Thank you, Veronica! I'll try to do the same here in Bucharest, to find more of these special places. If you and Frank want to visit, I'll be happy to take you on a tour :)

Veronica on 11/18/2019

We love our locality so we will be happy to give ideas for venues which are possibly a little off the usual, beaten track but worth a visit....

Mira on 11/18/2019

:) I hope this site will stay online for a long time, because I intend to query you and Frank with suggestions for the UK :)

Veronica on 11/17/2019

Yes indeed beauty is very therapeutic. I do hope you manage a visit to Uk but if you do, the North which is largely forgotten by overseas visitors, is worth a visit.

Mira on 11/17/2019

It's probably also to have something akin to a meditation aid as you sit by the fireplace. And then there's the whole Arts and Crafts philosophy of having beauty everywhere. It's things like these that truly make me want to crave to visit the UK extensively, over a series of trips. Hopefully I'll be able to do that.

Veronica on 11/16/2019

Yes these old fireplaces really add elegances to a room unlike many modern fire surrounds

Mira on 11/16/2019

I found some pages online where it says he designed some and someone else painted them. Either way it's really amazing that he did that. I love ceramics! And how wonderful to have these images by the fireplace!

Veronica on 11/15/2019

I have just looked at some Burne Jones fireplace tiles and I think you may be right Mira. How amazing is that. !

Veronica on 11/15/2019

My son felt just the same as you do about the Gothic Revival not looking right. Indeed he felt quite uncomfortable with the place. I think it is worth a visit for what it is in itself.

….and yes the fireplace tiles are just wonderful.

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