Wray Castle
Castle Ambleside Cumbria

Wray Castle

Castle In Ambleside, Cumbria

A neo-gothic 1800s castle with lovely lakeside grounds for a wander.

Every time I head into my town I am welcomed by the sign reading "Welcome To Windermere Among The Lakes", however my Windermere is actually in a small areas in Central Florida, most likely named after the place in the Lake District.

So from way across the pond I thought I'd write about a little hidden gem that can be found on the western shore of Lake Windermere, and it all began with a doctor who decided to retire there. Welcome to Wray Castle.

In 1840 a retired Liverpool surgeon called Dr. James Dawson began constructing a Gothic Revival style castle of his own. It had towers, arrow slits and was built in the Low Wray area on the western shore of Lake Windermere.

Dr. Dawson was able to finance the building of his castle, in part, because of the wealth he married into. Margaret, his wife, came from a wealthy family whose affluence came from the production of gin, and together they afforded the completion of the castle.

To an extent there are noticeably two different styles of architecture used to construct the castle. The first architect passed away during the building project; he was more whimsical in style. A very practical and functional architect, however, stepped in to complete the work. The castle was the real winner here, as it has features that are both logical and fun!

After his death, James' castle was passed on to his nephew, Edward Rawnsley, who was 15 at the time. Edward sought help caring for this inheritance and turned to his cousin, Hardwicke Rawnsley, to serve as vicar over the castle and the small church Dawson had built on property. Hardwicke was an author and had an affinity for historical places, so overseeing Wray Castle made sense to the whole family.

Under Hardwicke's care, the castle was a place people could visit while on holiday. Also during his time there Hardwicke helped establish the National Trust, which set out to preserve history and land. On one special occasion, a creative and artsy 16 year old girl came to visit Wray Castle on holiday. She loved writing and desired to become an author. Hardwicke inspired and encouraged her tremendously in this dream.

This 16 year old girl went on to become a famous international author. Later in life she married and settled down just 3 miles from Wray Castle, acquiring 4,000 acres of land. When she died, she left the majority of her property to the National Trust, which included thousands of acres around Wray Castle. You've probably heard of this author - Beatrix Potter.

Dawson's castle was bought and sold by several people for nearly 100 years, but it was gifted in 1929 to the National Trust, which oversees the preservation of over 500 properties of historic value. We believe Hardwicke would be thrilled about this!

Upon arriving you'll take in the sight of a grand, castle-like entrance, which looks just as historic as the castle. From there the drive to the castle passes through beautiful woods and fields. It's a narrow road, so be cautious when passing other vehicles.

Pulling up to Wray Castle the landscape opens up to a gorgeous view of the property, which has a nice spread including an outdoor dining area with several picnic tables.

Around back are stunning views of the mountain range with valley and lake, which, no doubt, was enjoyed by previous home owners. Inside is breathtaking. Well preserved and maintained woodwork and painting greets you along with high vaulted ceilings and arched doorways.

Back outside you can have a wander down to the shores of Lake Windermere and skim a stone or two!

If anyone has any photos of the inside of the castle, please send them through.

Thanks to our new Fabulous North friend Billie Dantzler for this lovely write up.

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How To Find Wray Castle

Where Is Wray Castle?

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Lat / Long

54.400617, -2.964236

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Where To Park For Wray Castle?

The castle has its own on-site car park.

Contributed by Simon Hawkins

Thanks for checking out this place on the Fabulous North! I do enjoy a wander out in to the countryside trying to find hidden gems that not many people know about. You can't beat a rogue pele tower up a remote hill, a mysterious stone circle or a stunning waterfall secluded in a forest.

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Simon Hawkins

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Wray Castle was listed in Castle // Cumbria // Ambleside