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The history of Graythwaite Hall

This ancient house and its lands which formerly amounted to about 1,500 acres was originally held by the customary freehold of the Abbey of Furness, similar to nearly all the other holdings in Furness. In the 14th century and for part of the 15th, the Estate belonged to the family of Sawrey, the main branch of the family being established at Plumpton Hall in Ulverston. It then passed by marriage to the Rawlinson family.

The present hall and the small panelled lounge in the entrance wing, dating from the time of John Sawrey, used to be just one big single room with a great fire at the west end. This fire and also the fire in the great hall in the east wing were always fed with peat and were never left to go out.

The panelling in the north end private lounge is William and Mary but there are traces of early graining on the plaster that can be found each side of the little cupboard discovered behind the panelling on the right hand side of the fireplace. An Elizabethan sixpence was found in this cupboard in about 1960. The staircase is the same period but of Carolean pattern.

The panelling in the south end private lounge came form Cartmel Priory (reputed to have been the family pew). The William and Mary panelling, now painted in Tethera Room 3, was never painted until 1900 but it used to be just old natural pine. The ancient part of the house is typical of all houses of the kind in the Lake District. The big east wing was built about 1710. Although built in the time of William and Mary, it is really more like the period of Charles II.

Several of the bedrooms have 'powder closets'. Also kept in them were the 'night stools' which took the place in those days of water closets. The cupboard in the small panelled lounge was once a bread oven. There is also a beam of wood which can be drawn out from the wall and inserted into a niche in the opposite side of the main front door. A precaution against intruders which was very necessary being so near to the Scottish border. There is also one at Holmewell, which was the home farm of the Rawlinsons.

There is a legend of an underground passage at Low Graythwaite Hall. It is believed that there is a tunnelled passage running from beneath the thick wall, dividing the great hall from the southern private lounge, to a mound in the garden over the wooden bridge, which according to Clark's survey of the Lakes, is built over a cellar. There is certainly a manmade mound in the garden. This is presumed to have been the ice house. Blocks of ice would have been stored there, either from Lake Windermere or from the pond, and used for the preservation of food. Certainly in about 1962 a deep subterranean passage was discovered on the far side of the beck and covered in again for safety. It is supposed this was a large field drain. It is difficult to visualise a passage from the house, passing beneath the beck to the icehouse.

Behind Low Graythwaite Hall are the archery butts. The target would have been placed in the clearly defined dips in the little hillock on the left hand side of the fell track. The archer would have stood on another little hillock on the right hand side of the track. There is a horn at Graythwaite Hall, dated 1797, which used to be presented to the winner of these archery contests.