About Augill Castle: a restoration story
Wreck to awards: Fifteen years in the life of a family castle
In 1919 Country Life advertised Augill Castle for sale:
"In the healthy and beautiful Eden Valley, Augill Castle, a handsome stone built Mansion in excellent repair, most comfortable to live in and inexpensive to maintain. The Castle contains spacious oak panelled living hall, dining and drawing rooms... servants' hall, kitchens, larders, pantries, dairy and the various other convenient rooms and offices belonging to a well-equipped Country House. Price for the whole, including landlord's fixtures, £7,750."
It has changed little (bar being inexpensive to maintain!).
We bought Augill Castle as a wreck in the Autumn of 1997. Since then we have embarked on an ongoing project to breath new life into the castle and restore it to some of its former glory.
The structure of the castle was sound but the internal fabric was in a shocking state of disrepair. But, 137 burst pipes, several thousand pounds of dry rot treatment, hundreds of metres of new wiring and plumbing later, our first three bedrooms were open for business in June 1998.
Since then the landmarks have been too numerous to mention here. But at the top of the list rank our children, born in 1998 and 2000. Holly the Labrador came to us in 1998 and Harry the supposedly short haired cat joined the family in 2007.
We've lived in every habitable part of the castle, moved out completely for a year to a nearby farmhouse, got homesick and moved back.
As an on-going restoration, every room in the castle has been re-decorated at least twice, the gardens have been rescued from beneath a tangle of weeds and debris, the pot holes in the drive are now mostly under control and most of the leaded windows don't leak for most of the time.
Recently, having managed for ten years with the domestic kitchen we inherited which we thought would do for eighteen months, we finally had a complete re-fit in October 2007 and more guest bedrooms were finished in May 2008, taking us to a total of eleven.
In December 2008 we refurbished the library and finally Simon had somewhere permanent to keep his collection of antique books. Doubling as the bar, it is a perfect place to sit and put the world to rights.
In Spring 2010 The Orangery and The Stable House were renovated to provide even more flexible family accommodation bringing us to fourteen bedrooms & suites and since then we have added three guest galley kitchens.
Augill is a living home that will continue to evolve along with us and our guests and we will continue to enjoy sharing the story.
Augill Castle: a brief architectural history
The castle was built in 1837 by John Bagot Pearson, a solicitor from Kirkby Lonsdale. it was undoubtedly modelled on the much larger Lowther Castle near Penrith, sharing the same symmetry and arrangement of central tower and turrets in Victorian gothic revival style.
There is some evidence of a smaller building, perhaps a Georgian farmhouse, at the centre of the castle and it is likely that this older structure was simply added to and castellated.
Originally the castle was just one room deep and three rooms long. The original main rooms of the castle, the Drawing Room, Dining Room and Hall all retain their original ceilings, again clearly inspired by the interior ceiling mouldings of Lowther Castle.
Over the next 100 years Augill was added to and remodelled. In 1927 a gas explosion destroyed the single storey East wing and the current wing, built in a much more angular style than the original castle, was added.
The main staircase was originally the entire width of the tower up to the first landing with small secondary staircases leading off left and right through arched openings into separate wings. Roof lines at the back of the castle confirm that there were once additional wings either side of the tower. Indeed, it is at the back of the castle that it's true history as a dynamic structure constantly adapting to changing uses is evident, the front facade having remained unaltered.
The Tudor panelling in the Hall was added in the 1960s and is a collection of pieces collected from other houses locally.
By the mid 1980s the castle had been divided into holiday flats but the overall structure of the building and the original layout of the gardens remained intact.
We have added nothing to the structure, choosing instead to work with what was already here and enjoying the quirkiness of a building that has lived through various incarnations.
"A truly amazing place"
Les Routiers Britain & Ireland
B&B of the Year 2002
Augill Castle: Lowther Castle's little sister