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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.

Inside Wray Castle

Now an exhibition venue, the ground floor of the castle is open to explore Wray’s church-like interiors and view the latest exhibition.

Like it’s dramatic mock gothic exterior, the interior opens up into a central hall which follows the form of ancient priory with high vaulted ceilings and dramatic stonework. In contrast, what are now the exhibition rooms, would have once had typically Victorian functions: a drawing room, a dining room, a library, a morning room and a grand wooden staircase, all adjoining the towering central space.

The upper floors are now used for display storage and meeting spaces and not open to visitors, but there is plenty to see and do in the ground floor exhibition space.

Black and white photo showing Captain Noel kinematographing the ascent of Mt. Everest from the Chang La ©Royal Geographical Society with IBG
Captain Noel kinematographing the ascent of Mt. Everest from the Chang La, Mount Everest Expedition 1922 | © ©Royal Geographical Society with IBG

Other Everests: One Mountain, Many Worlds

This year is the 100th anniversary of the 1924 British Mount Everest expedition. Organised by the Mount Everest Committee of the Royal Geographical Society and the Alpine Club the ambitious, but ultimately tragic attempt to climb Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain, was a culmination of years of planning. 

George Mallory and Andrew ’Sandy’ Irvine disappeared high on the mountain and the question of whether they summited or not remains one of the enduring mysteries of mountaineering.

The expeditions depended on a large indigenous workforce recruited from India, Nepal and Tibet who worked as interpreters, cooks, mail runners, photographic and survey porters and high-altitude workers.

Often written out of western accounts, this exhibition begins to tell the stories of these workers and the wider context of the 1924 expedition – not just as a climb, but as a cultural encounter between different worlds, an encounter that has left a lasting legacy.

See fascinating archives from the Royal Geographical Society and the Mountain Heritage Trust with stunning photographs presented in large-format vivid lightboxes and displays of artefacts, including the now famous recreation of George Mallory’s climbing outfit, found when his body was finally discovered on Everest in 1999.

Black and White photo of Mount Everest from Base Camp 1922
Mount Everest from Base Camp taken by C.J. Morris, Mount Everest Expedition 1922 | © ©Royal Geographical Society with IBG

The exhibition forms part of an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project called Other Everests that will bring people from India and Nepal together at the Royal Geographical Society to help unlock hidden narratives from this famous photographic collection, helping to co-curate an accompanying exhibition in Kalimpong, India.  

The exhibition includes interactive family activities along with a small traverse climbing wall for young children.

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

Visitors walking in the grounds at Wray Castle, Cumbria

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