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Things to see and do inside Wray

Looking up into the tower, past the first floor landing, from the Entrance Hall at Wray Castle, Cumbria. The castle was built in 1840 in Gothic Revival style, designed by John Jackson Lightfoot and completed by HP Horner.
Looking up into the tower, past the first floor landing, from the Entrance Hall at Wray Castle | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

The Castle at Wray was built as a place that would only ever have to defend itself from the Cumbrian weather. With all the furniture and artwork long gone and the last family moving out in the 1920s, it first opened to visitors in 2011 and is still a work in progress; we’re continually learning about its past.

Inside Wray Castle

Created in the 1840s by an heiress and a dentist. What you see inside Wray Castle isn’t a typical National Trust house with hundreds of years of accompanying owner-family history. The estate came to our care without its contents, after a varied and colourful history with many uses and tenants.

The ground floor of the castle is open to explore Wray’s church-like interiors and to view the photography exhibition. To discover more about the Wray Castle estate, pick up a leaflet from the Castle entrance and start your self-guided trail and learn more about its history.

The upper floors will remain closed for the forseeable future.

A visitor looking at the lightbox display at Wray Castle
Brought to Light: the photographs of Rupert Potter at Wray Castle, Cumbria | © National Trust/Annapurna Mellor

Brought to Light: The Lakeland Photographs of Herbert Bell and Rupert Potter

Produced in collaboration with the Armitt Library and Museum Centre, in Ambleside, this exhibition contrasts the work of two of the Lake District’s great photographers, Herbert Bell, a local chemist’s son, and Rupert Potter, father of the children’s author Beatrix Potter.

While different in wealth and background, both photographers shared a passion for the Lakes at a time when tourism was transforming this famous landscape. Steam trains and boats, hotels and guest houses, guidebooks, itineraries, and beauty spots became part of the Lakes continuing heritage.

A new way of viewing

Scanned from historic prints at high resolution and shown at a large scale for the first time, the images give a glimpse into two different experiences of the same landscape: a wealthy Kensington family on holiday for whole summers, and a local lad producing souvenirs for the tourist trade and going on youthful expeditions with his friends.

Whilst the interiors of Wray have changed over time, many of the landscapes captured by Rupert and Herbert have remained the same. Stand in the same spot as the Potter family on the lawn at Wray for your family photograph or explore the landscapes Rupert admired.

Admission to Wray Castle is free for everyone, ground floor only.

Visitors walking in the grounds at Wray Castle, Cumbria

Discover more at Wray

Find out when Wray is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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Volunteering at Wray 

If you can see yourself working in the beautiful grounds of Wray Castle or welcoming visitors inside, we might just have a role for you. Find out more about volunteering here.