Lowther Castle

Lowther Castle was commissioned by the 5th Earl of Lonsdale whose title was Sir Hugh Lowther.  It was built by the celebrated architect Robert Smirke who also worked on the British Museum.  The castle overlooks the village of Askham in Cumbria and was constructed in the early 19th century mostly in the Gothic cathedral style of the earlier 14th century.  The site chosen for the castle was that of the former Lowther Hall which had burnt to the ground in 1720 AD.  One famous visitor to the original hall was Mary Queen of Scott's who stayed there on her journey to her execution whilst an equally famous visitor to the later castle was Queen Victoria.  By the 1930s the cost of keeping the castle proved too much for the family and they moved to Askham Hall in 1936.  During the 1950s the Castle interior was removed and only the walls were left standing.

The castle is said to be haunted by a truly eccentric member of this powerful family, Sir James Lowther, or 'Wicked Jimmy' as he was better known. Thomas de Quincey, author of 'Confessions of an English Opium Eater', described him as: a 'true feudal chieftain in both appearance and deed, who took delight in expressing his disdain for modern refinement by the haughty carelessness of his magnificence'. 

His story is as follows:
Sir James inherited the estate in 1784 AD and was ambitious and greedy for power and so entered into an arranged marriage.  Whilst in this unhappy relationship, he apparently fell in love with the beautiful daughter of one of his tenant farmers but because she was clearly beneath him in social standing, she had to be kept as his mistress.  It is said that they were happy for a while but then tragically the girl fell ill and died suddenly leaving Sir James desolate and clearly unable to accept her death.  He very likely became mentally unhinged as he would not allow his servants to say that she was dead and he left her body lying in bed as if sleeping. 

It is said that he would even dress her himself and seat her at the dining table with him! When the stench of rotting flesh became too much to bear, he had her body moved to a nearby local hall and he had it placed in a glass lidded coffin in a cupboard so that he could visit her.  Finally he had her buried at Paddington Cemetery in London.  After this final act, Sir James returned to Lowther where he fell into a deep depression and was a totally broken man.

When finally Sir James suffering came to an end and he passed away, locals rejoiced but this might have been a little premature!

Sir James ghost is said to reappear when the moon is full on the anniversary of his burial, in the form of 'Wicked Jimmy' seated high on a carriage riding manically through the parkland whipping his horses into a frenzy!