The Castle History
Swinton Park is a magnificent ancestral castle set in 200 acres of parkland, lakes and gardens at the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales. The building dates from the 1600’s, but significant alterations were made in the 1700’s and again in the late 1800’s when the building was castellated in the Victorian gothic style, with the addition of a six storey turret.
Unusually the Cunliffe-Lister family bucked the trend when they bought back their ancestral home in May 2000. Molly, Countess of Swinton, was the last member of the family to live there before it was sold in 1980.
Mark (Molly’s great grand-son) and his wife Felicity Cunliffe-Lister, the current Lord and Lady Masham, married in June 2000 and on return from honeymoon moved to Swinton to start the refurbishment work. They both gave up their careers for the project, Mark a geophysicist and Felicity a city solicitor. They are joined by Mark’s mother Susan (daughter of Willie Whitelaw), as director of the family company. Swinton Park was officially opened as a luxury castle hotel by Dickie Bird MBE in March 2001, and in 2011 the hotel celebrated its 10th anniversary with a number of events, including a tree planting in the parkland – 10 trees planted by 10 children from the local school who were all born in 2001.
Awards and Ratings
Swinton Park has an AA rating of four red stars, and has been selected as an Inspector’s Choice hotel. The restaurant, Samuel’s, has been awarded 3 AA rosettes placing it in the top 10% of restaurants in the country, and the hotel is a member of the Tea Guild. The restaurant has been listed by the AA in the Restaurant Guide for having a Notable Wine List, placing it as one of the top 150 wine lists in the country. These awards place the hotel as one of the highest rated in North of England.
Swinton Park is now featured in the Michelin Guide, Harden’s, The Guest List, Sawdays, Good Food Guide and Good Hotel Guide. Recent awards include :
White Rose Awards Yorkshire Restaurant of the Year 2012
VistEngland Award for Excellence 2012 (Small Hotel Category) – Highly Commended
Sustainable Restaurant Association Three Star Sustainability Champion 2012
Green Tourism In Business Scheme Gold Award 2012
Yorkshire Life Food and Drink Awards, Hotel of the Year 2011
Yorkshire Life Food and Drink Awards Chef of the Year 2011
White Rose Outstanding Customer Service Award 2011 (finalist)
White Rose Hotel of the Year 2011
Good Hotel Guide Family Hotel of the Year 2011
Hotel of the Year 2009, White Rose Awards
Sustainable Tourism Award 2009, Highly Commended, White Rose Awards
The Green Tourism Business Scheme award 2009.
Green Business Award 2009 at the Yorkshire Rural Awards
The thirty one open spacious bedrooms at Swinton Park have each been individually designed on the theme of a Yorkshire town, dale, garden, castle or abbey. One of the five suites is on three circular floors in the turret with a splendid Victorian rainbath, and guests in all suites enjoy the luxurious Anne Semonin bath and body products. There is also a family suite with an adjoining twin/double room.
On the ground floor there are five spacious and elegant reception rooms and also the restaurant Samuel’s named after Mark’s great-great-great grandfather, Samuel Cunliffe-Lister. Guests eat in sumptuous surroundings with an ornate gold leaf ceiling, mahogany panelling, portraits of Samuel and an open fire.
The menu combines modern British style with the very best traditional ingredients (with a selection of meat, game and produce from the 20,000 acre family estate and four acre walled garden). Complemented by an exclusive selection of the finest wines, an evening at Samuel’s is a unique opportunity to savour Yorkshire’s heritage. The restaurant will normally seat 60, with an adjoining private dining room seating up to 25.
Alternative fine dining can be enjoyed at our regular demonstration dining experiences with Chef’s Table dinners and Sunday Masterclass Lunches where a Menu du Jour dinner is served at the demonstration kitchen in the Cookery School, along with a monthly Curry Club. Deerhouse Barbecue Dinners are also served in the parkland in summer months, along with gourmet picnics at the moorland Estate Bothy Huts.
Private parties and meetings for up to 120 delegates are catered for in the Library, the Panelled Room and two syndicate rooms, and the stables meeting room, which combine the style and elegance of a country house with the up to date facilities and equipment of a modern venue. The private sitting and dining rooms are particularly popular with smaller parties.
The Cookery School at Swinton Park has been running since 2003 and is highly acclaimed (Top Ten Cookery Schools, Sunday Times, April 08). It is also a finalist in the British Cookery School Awards 2012.
Stephen Bulmer joins the school as Chef Director in January 2013, with a new schedule of half day, day and two day courses and over 25 cooking themes. An expanded range of Home Cooking courses are being run by Gilly Robinson, along with a Fending for Yourself at Uni student course and Chalet & Villa Food for career chefs. Guest chefs include the celebrity chef Rosemary Shrager, and number of other specialists join the school for courses such as Wild About Food (foraging for wild edible ingredients) and the monthly Curry Club.
The school is also available for private hire and for corporate, incentive and team building events.
Conference and Incentive Groups
Corporate and incentive groups particularly enjoy our “Something Completely Different” programme of out of the ordinary activities such as alfresco dining in a moorland bothy hut, bicycle polo by Home Lake, rough shooting and duck flighting for groups of four, Hunter Gatherer hunting and foraging days, and a Farm Adventure outdoor team building in the countryside.
The hotel has a civil ceremony licence, and can cater for parties of up to 120 in-house with marquee space for larger events. Exclusive use bookings for the whole castle are also available.
Estate and Activities
The surrounding family estate offers every country pursuit imaginable, including golf, fishing, shooting, a clay pigeon shooting school, a four mile horse riding course and moorland pony trekking, walking, mountain biking, croquet, an off road driving course and even model yacht racing or coracle racing on the lake. The orangery in the grounds has been converted into an aviary for the Swinton Park Birds of Prey centre, providing flying demonstrations and displays throughout the week.
There is also a walking package available for guests wanting a picnic lunch served at one of the estate’s lunch huts up on the moors, and a baggage delivery service available for guests walking on to two gastro pubs nearby in the Dales.
Spa and Treatments
Within the hotel there is an exclusive use spa in the conservatory, with Jacuzzi and sauna, and five treatment rooms with [comfort zone] face and body treatments, La Stone and Ytsara treatments, Daniel Sandler and Jessica beauty products and a wide range of massage and complementary therapy treatments. There is also a Relaxation Room and an Exercise Room.
Spa Day Experiences and Spa Accommodation Packages are available throughout the year, along with Wellness Days that take a holistic approach to health, combining a detox massage, spa time, and manicure or pedicure with a nutrition consultation, and Fitness Days with your own personal trainer.
Children enjoy an indoor play area, bicycles and baby bike seats, goody bags on arrival, a children’s menu, an outdoor play area, and acres of space to let off steam. There is also a baby listening service, with cots, z beds and sofa beds in suites. During the summer months Children’s Activity Days and Family Falconry and Nature Days are run in the parkland, and Children’s Cookery Courses run at Half Terms and (for private groups) throughout the year. Easter Egg Hunts, Halloween Trails and Santa at Swinton are also regular events.
The hotel’s commitment to reducing its carbon emissions and cutting power consumption (with the installation of a carbon neutral wood-chip boiler and an eco-friendly laundry) have been recognized with awards for “Best Business Initiative” at the 2007 Yorkshire and Humber Microgeneration Awards and from the Forestry Commission for “exemplary stewardship” of its woodlands, in 2009 the Green Business Award at the Yorkshire Rural Awards and in 2012 the national Green Tourism Award (Gold) Award and Three Star Sustainability Champion status award from the Sustainable Restaurant Association.
Gardens and Events
The four acre walled garden has now been restored by Mark’s mother, Susan, (Country Life Gardener of the Year 2001) to a working vegetable garden, supplying the kitchen and cookery school with herbs and fresh produce, along with flowers for the house. The surrounding 200 acres of landscaped parkland includes five lakes, woodland, grottos and follies.
The hotel runs a busy Calendar of Events during the year with events such as Wine Appreciation Lunches and Hunter Gatherer days along with other seasonal events such as polo and cricket matches. During the summer months Susan Cunliffe-Lister runs a programme of Garden Lunches and Garden Design Days, and also gives tours of the garden as part of the Kitchen Garden (Grow and Cook Your Own) cookery courses.
Press enquiries : Felicity Cunliffe-Lister : 01765 680944 : email@example.com
Book Accommodation Online Now
Thank goodness the sun has now come out and we seem to have finally put winter behind us! The Parkland has burst into bloom with clouds of blossom and a colourful carpet of daffodils and bluebells around the trees.
The Walled Garden is also getting going, with bright tulips swaying in the breeze and home grown asparagus bursting forth. Asparagus is at its most delicious when eaten closest to home, so dishes featuring home-grown asparagus are now on all our menus, including the bar and lounge. The garden furniture is out and soon it will be time for afternoon teas on the lawn and evening drinks on the terrace at sunset. English summertime at it’s best.
Please click here if you are making plans for 2013 and want to see our Events and Activities Calendar to book a cookery course, themed lunch or family event. Our inspirational Themed Lunch and Dining Experiences page includes Wine Appreciation Lunches, with talks and tastings led by our new sommelier David Borwick, together with our Gardening Lunches, which include a talk and tour with garden designer Susan Cunliffe-Lister.