Gardens open at Cumbria castle

Cumbria castle designs weave paths through abandoned areas to enhance sense of history.

Lowther Castle Gardens near Penrith in Cumbria will open to the public today as part of a £8.9m restoration that will leave some of the site as a "beautiful ruin".

Land Use Consultants (LUC) principal Dominic Cole created designs for new gardens. His approach was to restore some of the 17th century and Edwardian areas and leave some abandoned.

Lowther's project director for the restoration Andrew Mercer said the ruined castle had a romantic feel. The completed scheme will feature a visitor centre, shop, cafe, gallery and education facilities to be built in the existing stables over the next three years.

Garden designer Dan Pearson was previously involved but LUC won a tender to design the site. Work started in October 2010, clearing and making paths. The castle and 50ha grounds were largely abandoned 70 years ago.

The attraction is projected to bring 114,000 extra visitors to the area. Restoration funding comes via a £6.9m award from the Northwest Regional Development Agency and £1.9m from the European Regional Development Fund. Patton Construction is main contractor and Feilden Clegg Bradley is project architect.

Designer approach explained

Dominic Cole, principal, Land use Consultants

"Lowther offers a unique opportunity to reclaim the gardens to show visitors their amazing extent, diversity and rich heritage. It is not intended to 'restore' the gardens to a particular period, rather to understand and work with 400 years of their development. The layout will be rooted in the structure that survives with new designs and planting overlaid."

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