Swinton Park - General Information

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Swinton Park - General Information

Date: January, 2009

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.

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 2008 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, Good Food Guide and Good Hotel Guide. Recent awards include :

  • Yorkshire Life Hotel of the Year 2002,
  • Yorkshire Tourist Board Hotel of the Year 2003 and an Outstanding Customer Services Award 2003,
  • Hotel of the Year 2004 at the Visit Britain Excellence in England awards.
  • House and Garden (March 2002) Top 10 Weekend Breaks
  • Saturday Telegraph (October 02) Top 10 Hotels
  • Tatler Magazine (March 2004) Top 20 Hotels in Britain
  • Observer Magazine (June 05) Top 50 Best Places to Eat
  • Independent on Sunday (October 05) Top 10 Child Friendly Venues
  • Harpers Spa Guide 2005 Best Mother and Baby Package
  • Independent Top 50 Most Romantic Hotels (Feb 06)
  • Yorkshire Tourist Board Outstanding Customer Service Award 2006
  • Top Ten European Castle Hotel by Tripadvisor (April 07)
  • Taste of Yorkshire, White Rose Awards (September 07)
  • Award of Excellence 2008, The Tea Guild
  • Top Ten Cookery Schools, Sunday Times, April 08

The thirty 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 Jo Malone bath and body products.

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.

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.

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, and a team building and communication skills workshop with a Horse Whisperer from the nearby Learning to Listen centre.

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.

Within the hotel there is a charming spa in the conservatory, with Jacuzzi and sauna, and five treatment rooms with [comfort zone] face and body treatments, Jane Iredale and Jessica beauty products and a wide range of massage and complementary therapy treatments. There is also a Relaxation Room and an Exercise Room.

Children enjoy an indoor play area, bicycles and baby bike seats, goody bags on arrival , a childrens 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.

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. During the summer months Susan runs a programme of Garden Lunches and Garden Design Days, and also gives tours of the garden as part of the Garden Food cookery courses.

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.

The hotel runs a busy Calendar of Events during the year with events such as Garden Lunches and Wine Appreciation Lunches along with other seasonal events such as polo and cricket matches, open air Shakespeare performances and croquet afternoons.

There is a cookery school offering day and residential courses throughout the year with a wide variety of themes. The school is also available for private hire and for corporate, incentive and team building events.

The two day residential courses are run by our guest celebrity chef, Rosemary Shrager. Rosemary has a well established reputation as a cookery school chef with a very hands on approach to teaching, She has starred in several primetime television programmes, including her own ITV series “Rosemary Shrager’s School for Cooks” which was filmed here at Swinton Park.

There are also one day themed courses run by the hotel’s cookery school chef, Rob Taylor, and a number of themes and styles of cooking are available. He is joined by experts in the masterclasses in Game and Provenance Food, which includes a tour of the walled garden where you learn what vegetables and fruit can be grown in your own garden and how. We also run cookery courses for children in the holidays, and an extremely popular monthly Curry Club evening course, hosted by Prett Tejura of Curry Cuisine. New to the current programme are the menu du jour Chef’s Table dinners on selected dates throughout 2009, for individual and group bookings of up to 10, held at the demonstration table in the cookery school.

Our current manager, Andrew McPherson, joined the hotel in 2005 having managed Skibo Castle, which hit the headlines in 2000 when it hosted Madonna and Guy Ritchie’s wedding.


Press enquiries : Felicity Cunliffe-Lister : 01765 680944 : felicity@swintonpark.com