by Emma Bray

Banner Image: Dalemain Mansion © Gordon Lightburn

Dalemain is the home of the Hasell McCosh family. The Georgian façade hides a pele tower, medieval hall and Tudor extension. The Mansion and Gardens, are open to the public (see the Dalemain website for opening times). 

Dalemain is also home to the World Marmalade Awards.

From pele tower to mansion

A fortified pele tower was built at Dalemain in the 12th century by the de Morvilles to which a medieval hall was added. In the second half of the 13th century, the property was acquired by the Layton family. They built a second pele tower in the 14th century and added two Elizabethan wings projecting forwards. 

The Laytons remained at the house until 1679 when Sir William Layton died leaving six daughters who were co-heiresses and so the estate had to be sold and divided. It was bought by Sir Edward Hasell for £2,710. Sir Edward had been the chief officer to Lady Anne Clifford who left him money in her will. His descendants still live at Dalemain.

Sir Edward’s son, the second Edward Hasell, modernised the house in 1755 by adding a Georgian front in stone quarried at Stainton. The medieval hall and 14th century pele tower remain within the fabric of the Mansion. The pele tower was originally taller and crenelated, but the top of the tower was removed in around 1860. Stonework around the back door may be the remains of the earlier pele tower.

Dalemain Mansion Georgian facade © Dalemain Estates

Fascinating family home, steeped in history

The entrance hall has a cantilevered staircase, built from oak from the estate, above which hang a number of portraits. A large key, given to the Layton’s by Lady Anne Clifford in 1660, is on display. Lady Anne gave keys to her friends – other examples exist at Hutton in the Forest, Rose Castle and Dacre Church.

The Chinese Room is papered in one of the oldest examples of 18th century hand-painted Chinese wallpaper in the country. It has exotic bird and flower designs on it with individual motifs being added after the room had been papered. 

Dalemain Mansion Entrance Hall © Dalemain Estates

The dining room contains a set of mahogany dining furniture by Gillows of Lancaster, bought by William Hasell in 1774. Further portraits of the family hang on the walls. Also on the ground floor is a small display about the building of the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway, of which the fifth Edward Hasell was a shareholder. There is also a Museum for the Westmorland and Cumberland Yeomen Cavalry which is housed in the pele tower.

Dalemain Mansion Dining Room © Dalemain Estates

A number of bedrooms can be visited upstairs. The first has a Tudor fretwork plaster ceiling depicting acorns, fleurs-de-lys and Tudor roses. It also has a mahogany bed by Gillow and a set of 1800 Cumberland courting chairs. The oak bedroom was added by the Laytons in Tudor times – until then it would have been part of the great hall. There is a priest hall at the end of the housekeeper’s room, found by workmen in 1851. It was part of the 16th century addition to the house and was accessed from the kitchen chimney. The Layton’s remained Catholic recusants in Queen Elizabeth I’s reign.

The solar houses a display of marmalade from Dalemain’s marmalade festival which is held each year to raise funds for Hospice at Home. The idea came from a marmalade recipe found in a book belonging to Elizabeth Rainbow, aunt of the first Sir Edward of Dalemain and wife of the Bishop of Carlisle.

Dalemain Historic Gardens

Dalemain's gardens are a delight whatever the season. From the snowdrops and aconites that welcome the spring to the wonderful display of old-fashioned roses in June/July, or the children's garden with its hand-crafted animals signs, there is something for everyone.  

Take a tour of the garden as you browse the images below but be sure to visit in person too.

With thanks to Jane Hasell McCosh for taking us on this virtual tour of her gardens.

Dalemain Garden Powerpoint with captions + transitions

Other Topics you may find of interest

Dalemain Loop - a 5 mile circular route connecting with the Ullswater Way at Pooley Bridge