Wray Castle is a charming Grade II listed Victorian neo-gothic mansion located in the Lake District, Cumbria, and England. It's situated on the western shore of Lake Windermere, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The castle, along with the adjacent church was built as a private residence in the 1840s for James Dawson, a retired Liverpool surgeon.
Despite its stronghold appearance it was never intended as a defensive fortification and therefore lacks many typical castle like characteristics. Instead, it served as a holiday home for the Dawson family. After James’ death in 1875 the estate was inherited by his fifteen year old nephew, Edward Preston Rawnsley. In 1877 Edward's cousin, Hardwicke Rawnsley, took up the appointment of vicar of Wray Church. To protect the countryside from damaging development, Hardwicke, acting on a notion conceived by John Ruskin, developed the idea of a National Trust that could buy and preserve places of natural beauty and historic interest for the nation.
In 1882, when Beatrix Potter was just 16 years old, her family rented Wray Castle for their summer holiday. This visit is said to have inspired Beatrix's love for the Lake District, and it marked the beginning of her deep affection for the region. She eventually settled in the Lake District and purchased Hill Top Farm in Near Sawrey. It is said that the landscapes and surroundings of the Lake District, including her memories of Wray Castle, greatly influenced her work as a renowned author and illustrator, creating beloved children's books such as "The Tale of Peter Rabbit.”
In 1929 Wray Castle, along with 64 acres of land, were given to the National Trust by Sir Noton and Lady Barclay, the owners at that time. Since then, the castle has been used for a variety of purposes, such as a youth hostel, and from 1931 it housed the offices of the Freshwater Biological Association. From 1958 to 1998 it became a training college for Merchant Navy radio officers and was known as RMS Wray Castle).
In 2011 the National Trust proposed to lease the property stripped of its furnishings, for use as a hotel, but instead opened it to the public during the visitor season that year. High visitor numbers meant that the property had clear potential to be developed as a visitor attraction. In 2014 the Trust applied for retrospective planning permission to change the use of the listed building to visitor attraction and today, the public can explore its rooms, enjoy the beautiful grounds, and even participate in various family-friendly activities. The castle has a relaxed atmosphere, making it a delightful destination for those looking to experience the charm of the Lake District.
There is plenty of parking within the grounds itself and a number of National Trust granted public paths follow the Windermere Shoreline and across the property. I was able to launch the DJI mini 3 Pro from one of the Public Paths close to the Windermere Shoreline but inside the National Trust Property boundary. The castle was closed, as it was out-of-season, and VLOS was maintained, on this occasion, with the assistance of a spotter. Although there were plenty of walkers taking in the scenery at the time, I had no interaction with any of them! I suspect it maybe a different story in-season so be aware!
Land owner permission requirements unknown.
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Co-ordinates: 54.39904, -2.962124 • what3words: ///wreck.exposing.responses