The Swinton Estate


There once was a Roman camp by the river at what is now Swinton Park — and a Roman road ran across the estate. Over 1,200 years after the Romans had departed from Britain during the reign of King William III, a house was first built on the site by Sir Abstrupus Danby in 1695. The country seat was developed by many future generations of the Danby family including, during the third quarter of the 18th century, the construction of the gatehouse and stable wing, park landscaping, and the creation of the famous “chain of five lakes.”

The house passed into the hands of Samuel Cunliffe-Lister in 1882. Samuel’s dynamic business success was achieved in the wool and silk combing trade in Bradford. His factory at Manningham Mills was once the largest in Europe. The Magellan Centre also is interested and involved in the history of the East–West Trade and the myriad of luxurious goods that flowed from it — including silk and the fine textiles made from this illustrious fibre over a period of thousands of years.

Manningham Mills supplied 1,000 yards (910 m) of velvet for King George V’s coronation. During the Second World War Lister’s produced 1,330 miles (2,140 km) of real parachute silk, 284 miles (457 km) of flame-proof wool, 50 miles (80 km) of khaki battledress and 4,430 miles (7,130 km) of parachute cord. In 1976 “Listers Pride” supplied new velvet curtains for President Ford in the White House.


Samuel retired at the age of 68 and bought Swinton Park — and with energy and the means he had created, he set about raising the height of the turret, adding a new wing, as well as a new second storey.


On Samuel’s death in 1906, the house passed to his two sons, the 2nd and 3rd Barons Masham, and then on to his niece Molly, who took the family name. Her husband Philip became 1st Viscount Swinton in 1935 and 1st Earl of Swinton in 1955. He served in 11 Conservative cabinets — putting Swinton Park at the heart of British politics for decades. Past visitors included Harold Macmillan, Ted Heath and Willie Whitelaw.

From 1975 to 1997, Swinton Park took on a new role as a management training centre run by Lindley Lodge, until it was bought back into the family by Mark and Felicity Cunliffe-Lister (the present Baron and Baroness of Masham), Marks’ mother Susan Cunliffe-Lister, his brother and sister. The family converted their home into a hotel in 2001, opening up the castle and its grounds to the public.

This luxury country castle hotel is set within the 20,000 acres of spectacular countryside which forms the Swinton Estate, stretching from the River Ure in Wensleydale up onto the moorland Dales bordering the National Park.

The Estate includes a range of unique buildings including a secluded Georgian Lake House and a restored Deer House.

The Druid’s Temple, on the very fringes of the moors near the Swinton Bivouac, is a remarkable folly commissioned by the older William Danby and is thought to have helped decrease unemployment as the Napoleonic Wars came to an end in the area by employing local labourers to build it.