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.
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 :
Top 100 Restaurants in Britain – Sunday Times in association with Harden’s for Samuel’s
The Good Hotel Guide 2015: Editor’s Choice Award – Historic Hotel
The Good Hotel Guide 2015: Editor’s Choice Award – Family Friendly Hotel
The Good Hotel Guide 2015: Editor’s Choice Award – Wedding Hotel
VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2014 – Silver Winner – Best Small Hotel
Hotel of the Year, White Rose Awards 2013
VisitEngland Award for Excellence 2013 Gold Winner – Taste of England
Sustainable Restaurant Association Three Star Sustainability Champion 2013
Green Tourism In Business Scheme Gold Award 2013
White Rose Awards Yorkshire Restaurant of the Year 2012
VistEngland Award for Excellence 2012 (Small Hotel Category) – Highly Commended
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
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 surrounding 20,000 acre Swinton Estate and four acre walled garden). The Classic Menu can be combined with the Garden Menu (a vegetarian menu using ingredients sourced from the walled garden and Swinton Estate), and there is also a seven course Tasting Menu. 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 where a Seasonal Menu du Jour dinner is served at the demonstration kitchen in the Cookery School. 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 was also a finalist in the British Cookery School Awards 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Stephen Bulmer joined 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, together with the Thursday Morning Club and Supper Evenings, which focus on classic dishes and skills such as The Perfect Souffle, Bouillabaisse and Thai Curry. There is also an expanded range of Teenage courses, including a two day “bootcamp” with accommodation in the Bunk Barn at nearby Swinton Bivouac. Guest chefs include a number of specialists who join the school for courses such as Wild About Food (foraging for wild edible ingredients) and the Indian Masterclass.
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 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 with cedar hot tub and sauna, together with five treatment rooms providing Perron Rigot and Thalgo face and body treatments,Daniel Sandler and Jessica beauty products and a wide range of massage and complementary therapies. 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.
In 2013 Swinton Park submitted a planning application for a dedicated Spa, Health Club and Brasserie, to be built adjacent to the hotel.
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 are also cots, z beds and sofa beds in suites. Children’s Cookery Courses run at Half Terms and (for private groups) throughout the year and during holidays Easter and Halloween Nature Trails and Santa at Swinto’s Bivouac are also regular events. The Druid’s Temple and café at swinton Bivouac, Pony Trekking Centre and Family Falconry Experience at the Bird of Prey Centre are also very popular with families.
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 2013 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 : firstname.lastname@example.org
We are delighted to have received planning approval for our Country Club and Spa, which will include an indoor swimming pool with full spa and fitness facilities, as well as a 40-seat conservatory restaurant, coffee shop and Swinton Estate shop. Please see our press release for more information. In the meantime, book fabulous Thalgo treatments in our current spa to look your best for the Christmas party season and enjoy our tempting Festive Lunches and Afternoon Teas or inspiring Christmas Chef’s Tables and seasonal cookery courses, amid the castle’s glorious decorations.