The latest repair works to the north facade and north terrace commenced July 2014, totalling £0.5m, being funded principally by English Heritage and LET (Lowther Estate Trust), the first phase being constructed by Cumbrian stonemasons Askins &Little. This work will open up the ruins and complete nine years' work of stabilising the important central staircase tower, the key to preserving the grand silhouette of Robert Smirke's masterpiece, his first and arguably finest architectural commission.

The castle stands on a site occupied by the Lowther family for over 800 years. The castle was completed in 1806 and a beautiful sculpture gallery with decorative plaster ceiling added in 1814.

The last resident was the Yellow Earl, who finally left the castle on New Year’s Day 1936; the castle was requisitioned by the army during the second world war and returned to the Lowther family in a poor condition. Many large country houses were demolished during this period but the seventh Earl decided to leave the castle façade as a monument in the landscape having removed the roof in 1957, and the grounds were used for a large chicken farm and commercial forestry business.

In 2010 the castle and gardens were leased to the new independent charity, the Lowther Castle & Gardens Trust, and £8.9m of funds secured from the North West development Agency and European Regional Development Fund to develop the castle and gardens into a major visitor attraction. Work to reverse 70 years of deterioration of the castle, gardens and stable courtyard started in April 2011, and a veritable army of craftsmen have been busy replacing slate roofs, rebuilding collapsed turrets, repairing lime plaster ceilings, refurbishing hundreds of windows and doors, removing hundreds of tonnes of army concrete, and sympathetically installing modern services. The stable courtyard offers café, shop, heritage toilets, meeting room and a display area where visitors can find out more about the process of restoration.

Explore Lowther in Pictures by Tony Romsey