Acorn Bank

Temple Sowerby, near Penrith, CA10 1SP
Acorn Bank

Acorn Bank House (Ashley Dace /geograph.org.uk)

Located a few miles east of Penrith, Acorn Bank is a stunning property that is best known for its tranquil walled garden that has an impressive collection of herbs, along with a collection of orchards that produce over 100 varieties of apples each year. Set in 180-acres of parkland and woodland, the estate is best visited in the summer when you can take advantage of the warmer weather and stroll through the gardens, along the river to the former watermill.

Unlike other similar National Trust properties, Acorn Bank came to the Trust devoid of its contents and now much of the main building is used as holiday lets, raising money for the charity, but visitors can access part of the building and there are free guided tours available each day.

Planning Your Visit

Contact Details:
01768361893 / Website
Cost:
Adult £8.80, Child £4.40, Family £22
Seasonal Opening:
Closed January until mid February
 

History

Acorn Bank Mill

Acorn Bank Mill (Chris Allen / geograph.org.uk)

The current building has sections that date back to the 16th century, along with the walled gardens, but it’s believed that in the 13th century the site was home to the Knights Templar. The property was owned by the Dalston family and much of what is visible today was rebuilt in the 17th and 18th century by the family. The property was passed down through generations and in the late 19th century the occupants began mining for gypsum in the area in order to supplement their income.

Although a water mill is believed to have been at Acorn Bank since the 14th century, the current building dates back to the early 19th century. It’s primary purpose was to mill corn, but it also provided additional power for the mining operations.

In the first half the 20th century, the property was owned by writer Dorothy Una Ratcliffe who spent several years restoring the walled gardens and creating a bird reserve in the grounds. Ratcliffe donated the property to the National Trust in 1950 and it was let out for private use until 1996. Following a period of restoration, the Trust created a number of holiday lets within the building, followed by a tea room in 2000. Since 2012 some rooms in the building have been open to the public, and restoration work is ongoing, along with explorations into possible uses for the building.

Outside, the National Trust has been continuing the work undertaken by Dorothy Ratcliffe since the 1960s and today the garden is known for its extensive collection of herbs, whilst the wonderful array of apples produced by the gardens is celebrated each year with special “apple days” during harvest time. Furthermore, work has also been undertaken to restore the watermill, and after 70 years of lying stationary, the mill produced flour for the first time in 2011.

Things To See

Acorn Bank Walled Garden

Acorn Bank Walled Garden (Rose and Trev Clough / geograph.org.uk)

Inside the house, visitors can see the former drawing room, the grand entrance hall with a stone staircase, and browse the second-hand bookshop and National Trust gift shop. Guided tours are available each day. The house often has activities for children, such as activity and spotting sheets or dressing up clothes.

To truly appreciate the wonders of Acorn Bank, its best to visit in the spring or the summer when visitors can enjoy the wonderful gardens in full bloom, with over 250 varieties of herbs grown here, along with fruit and vegetables. The estate is set in large grounds that offer a number of pleasant walking opportunities, including along the Crowdundle Beck where the watermill is located. Inside the mill much of the original machinery is on display and visitors can learn more about how the mill operated and the industries it supported.

Useful Information

A tea room is located in the former sitting room, serving a selection of light lunches, freshly made cakes that include local specialities, and ice creams during the summer.

Map

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