Lowther Castle might be somewhere you choose to go with the kids. Plenty of grounds to explore, an excellent wooden replica of the castle and play area and a great coffee shop to refuel. And that is a very good reason to visit, but if you cast your eyes up to the left of the counter as you buy your sandwiches and cakes there is a large, brooding painting that takes up half the wall. This painting is by Flemish artist Frans Snyders and is incredibly rare. You will also find the story of a payment made to William Wordsworth’s father for a debt long-owed. The Lonsdales amassed great fortune and power of their time at Lowther and as such have developed an art collection to behold. The art has been borrowed by galleries all across the world, because of the calibre of the collection. Claire Logan-Stephens from Lowther explains how a call from New York put Lowther on the map again.
“A few months ago, a telephone call came to the office at Lowther Castle. It was from the Metropolitan Museum in New York. A breathless curator said that he had just discovered that the Lowther Estate owned the original painting of one of the world’s first acknowledged transvestites and could the Met borrow it for an exhibition based on Susan Sontag’s 1960’s essay entitled Notes on Camp? The answer from Jim Lowther, owner of the painting of the Chevalier d’Éon by Jean-Paul Mosnier, was an emphatic yes.
Fast forward to a few months later to Lady Gaga, along with the grand and glamorous of New York society, dressed to the absolute nines to celebrate camp in all its glory. The team then realised that the exhibition – and this amazing Lowther-owned painting – was at the centre of a heart-stopping extravaganza.
Vanessa Lowther, Jim’s wife, who went to the preview of the exhibition and the coveted Gucci after-party with her daughters Matilda and Ishbel, said the whole thing was a wonderful spectacle.
“The show was beautifully curated. We were so impressed.”
Meanwhile that curator was over the moon – in the first few hours of the exhibition being open, 2000 visitors went through. This a record for the Met.
The story of Lowther is one of 850 years’ standing. Three principal buildings have occupied the site and today, Lowther Castle – a conserved ruin – is now recognised as a must-see destination for those who love heritage, gardens, the Lake District, the north of England, the history of the UK.
This is a heartwarming story of resilience, glamour and the worldwide power of art and we were honoured to loan our art. It is also a recognition that in the north of England, there lies one of the world’s great places to visit: somewhere full of surprises.”