Wray Castle, Lancashire

Wray Castle stands above the western shore of Lake Windermere, these days in Cumbria but traditionally in Lancashire.

It was built by James Dawson of Liverpool in 1840, it took seven years to complete and cost the phenomenal amount of £60,000.  Much of the money came from Dawson's wife, Margaret, whose family had made their fortune in the gin industry.

William Wordsworth, that great hero of the Lake District, stayed at Wray.  In 1882 Beatrix Potter rented the Castle for the summer and together with the local vicar, Canon Rawlnsey, became one of the founders of the National Trust inspired by both Wray Castle and its beautiful Lakeland setting.

In 1929 Wray became a Youth Hostel briefly.  In World War II the Castle was used to house exhibits from London's Natural History Museum.  These days Wray is a training college for various organisations and although the building isn't open to the public the grounds are, offering some superb views down Lake Windermere.

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