Lake District History

Armathwaite Hall has stood magnificently on the shores of Bassenthwaite Lake in one form or another since the 11th Century. Many well documented notorieties including members of the aristocracy, parliamentarians and businessmen have enjoyed the opulence of the Hall which gives it an intriguing past and many a tale to tell.

The Manor of Bassenthwaite (where the Hall now stands) was given to the illegitimate brother of Allan, the Second Lord of Allerdale and Gospatrick took on the name de Bassenthwaite. Another family, the Highmore family, who owned the Hall 1540 to 1748, offered hospitality to the infamous Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Duke of Cumberland during the 1745 uprising at their other residence in Carlisle. In 1748 James Spedding, Squire to Lord Egremont of Cockermouth Castle acquired the Hall and it stayed in his family for three generations until it was sold to Sir Frederick Fletcher-Vane in 1796. This family extended the Hall in 1817 by building a courtyard, a chapel and partially extending the building towards the lake. Four generations of the Fletcher-Vane family resided here until 1850 when it was sold to Mr. Boustead.

The Boustead family had large investments overseas, mainly tea plantations in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). In 1880 Thomas Hartley, a local mine owner, bought the Hall for £95,000. He remodelled the Hall into a country gentlemans residence - the building you now see today. He added the rooms that are now the Hall Lounge, Lake Room and Cocktail Bar and part of the Lake View Restaurant. When Mr. Hartley died in 1926 the estate was divided and sold in various lots. All lots were sold except for the Hall and the surrounding 133 acres and after several attempts to sell it, it was decided to put it up for auction for demolition and the auctioneers lot numbers are still visible on some of the cellar doors.

Just in time the Wivell family, who owned and ran the Keswick Hotel bought the Hall and 133 acres for £5000! It was renovated and opened as a hotel six months later. The first tariff printed advertises single rooms from 7s 6d and double rooms from 12s 6d with a bath one shilling!

During the Second World War Hunmanby Gap Girls School were evacuated to the hotel and according to the testimony of some of the girls very little scholarly activity took place! The current owners, the Graves family, bought the Hall from the Wivells in 1976 and have recently celebrated their 30th anniversary of ownership. A massive development programme has taken place over the years. In 1989 the family purchased the adjoining Coalbeck Farm which now houses the very popular family attraction.

Development plans continue to improve facilities at Armathwaite Hall which include in January 2010 the opening of a new multi million pound Spa, Courtyard Bar and Brasserie Restaurant and two new function rooms, The Broadwater Suite and Lime Trees Suite in January 2010. The development saw the completion of the biggest investment since purchasing the Hall. Further plans include the development of the courtyard to add a further 20 spa bedrooms.