Things to do - Muncaster Castle

Muncaster website

The historic haunted castle, still a lived in family home is the jewel in the crown of this majestic setting on the Western Lake District. Host to private weddings, functions and parties, this idyllic setting is simply awe inspiring.

See the Castle in all its glory and hear from the Pennington family who have resided in the Castle since 1208, about Muncaster's colourful history and residents.

Learn about Tom Fool aka Tom Skelton, court jester at Muncaster in the 16th Century with his links to Shakespeare and the ghost stories about him causing trouble today!

World Owl Centre

Welcome to Muncaster Castle's World Owl Centre, home to the World Owl Trust.  Large and small, fierce and friendly, beautiful and strange, owls are wonders of wildlife. Here you will find one of the largest collections of these thrilling birds of prey in existence.

The centre is home to a diverse range - from bizarre fish owls to diminutive pygmy owls which are not much bigger than a sparrow and has more than 40 different types of these magnificent Owls on display for you to wonder and enjoy.  The World Owl Centre is open every day and entry is included in your Gardens ticket.  

A portion of the entry fee goes to the World Owl Trust from every visitor and so you're not only helping to maintain a majestic peace of history with the Castle and Gardens (as we're a 'not-for-profit' company), you're helping to support the vital conservation work of the World Owl Trust.

Watch the wild herons feeding during "Heron Happy Hour" at 4.30pm. This really is wildlife on the wing!

 

The History of the Gardens

The gardens and woodland walks in spring and early summer are the greatest joy of the place, and to those of you who come at other times we can only say that we hope you will return next spring. Phyllida's grandfather, Sir John Ramsden, the sixth Baronet, was responsible for the creation of what was, at one time,considered to be the largest collection of species rhododendrons in Europe.

He had the most wonderful setting in which to work, with the Terrace and the views of Scafell and the Lakeland hills to the east and south, and the land between the house and Ravenglass, which John, Lord Muncaster had planted with hardwood trees in the 1780s, providing the finest shelter from the prevailing winds.

Unfortunately many of the trees planted then have now reached the end of their life and are having to be cut and replanted. A severe storm in February 1994 blew down over 100 trees which, although destructive, provided a golden opportunity to incorporate many exciting new planting features in the gardens. The last Lord Muncaster died in 1917 without children and his nearest relation, Sir John Ramsden inherited the place on condition that his second son changed his name from Ramsden to Pennington. It was after the First World War that Sir John Ramsden started planting with rhododendron seedlings brought from his other great garden at Bulstrode, Gerrards Cross in Buckinghamshire, a Somerset family estate which he inherited through his mother. He was helped by John Millais and the gardens were constantly improved between 1920 and his death in 1958. He carried out a vigorous crossing programme and produced many new hybrids which he was rather casual about registering. He intended to keep only the best, and to destroy the remainder. Working extensively with woodland nurseries he thinned them as he thought fit, and it was the unfortunate cutback in labour brought about by the outbreak of war in 1939 that frustrated his plans.

The unthinned plants were drawn by the beech trees, whose canopy now casts too heavy a shade to allow them to flower freely. He subscribed to the Ludlow and Sheriff and Kingdon Ward expeditions, and many of the plants from their seed are still thriving at Muncaster, where the proximity of the Gulf Stream and the acid soil have given them an ideal location. There is a fine collection of magnolias, camellias, and maples, as well as hydrangeas and a large collection of unusual trees, including the various species of nothofagus.

The Terrace, with its view of Eskdale is an outstanding feature of the garden. There are many new walks opened up through the Gardens which were constructed by the First Lord Muncaster in the 1780's. In the stable yard there is a gift shop and a cafe serving light snacks and full meals. The World Owl Trust has its headquarters at Muncaster and operates the Owl Centre, a very popular Muncaster attraction. We want all of you who are kind enough to come to realise that the garden is place which may change, but which needs your love and understanding, no less than ours. For the family who live here it is one of the greatest pleasures in our lives.

 

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Woodend Barn, Woodend, Ulpha, Broughton-in-Furness Cumbria LA20 6DY
Telephone 019467 23277 - enquiries@woodendhouse.co.uk
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