Victoria (Magazine) at Holker Hall

I guess I have a “thing” about Victorias — writers, queens, magazines, whatever. I loved the first Victoria magazine, published from 1987 to 2003, and I love the new version, published since 2007.  When it arrives every other month, I put it aside until I have a couple of quiet hours in which to enjoy it uninterrupted.

So in this busy summer, it took me a long time to get around to the September-October issue, which arrived a few weeks ago. On pp. 40-45, I found a lovely photographic story about Holker Hall, a stately home in the English Lake District which I have visited.  How delightful to experience the house and its gardens all over again.  Here is a link to Victoria magazine and here is a link to the Hall’s website.

The Holker estate belongs to Lord and Lady Cavendish, a branch of the family of the present 12th Duke of Devonshire. It has been in the Cavendish-Devonshire family for many years, coming into their possession by marriage.  Largely  rebuilt in red sandstone after a fire in 1871,  its style is  neo-Elizabethan. one of the popular recreated architectural fashions of the Victorian Era.

The 7th Duke of Devonshire left Holker to a younger son (in 1908), and thus it passed out of the direct control of the dukes themselves.  That younger son was a grandfather of the present Lord Cavendish.

Of particular interest are the gardens, which have been designed carefully to bring out the best in seasonal plantings.  These spring time rhododendrons must be amazing.


The newer wing of the house, built in the 1870’s contains many outstanding features in woodworking, plaster designs, lighting and furnishings.  If you look at the pictures in the magazine article, it is almost possible to think of yourself sitting in one of the comfortable armchairs, waiting for tea or reading one of the 3,500 books in the library.  The cantilevered staircase pictured at left was carved by estate workers of local wood.

In the Blue Guide to Country Houses of England, Geoffrey Tyack writes of Holker Hall, “Few houses open to the public convey better than Holker the sense of late-Victorian aristocratic life and tastes.”
The estate is a busy commercial concern, including forestry, lumbering,  and slate cutting businesses as well as agricultural produce, tourism, hunting and fishing, and many special events such as festivals, concerts, and exhibitions.  The fallow deer herds are maintained for their traditional beauty as well as for their meat. 

By the way, in the September-October 2010 issue of Victoria magazine, there are also excellent articles on the Lake District and its benefactress, the late author Beatrix Potter, who created Peter Rabbit and all his friends.

I hope Peter is still at Mr. McGregor’s House and not stirring things up at beautiful Holker Hall.

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