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Countrystride #101: THE YELLOW EARL and Lowther Castle which we visit one of Lakeland's great historic houses, Lowther Castle, to explore the story of the 'Yellow Earl': Hugh Lowther, 5th Earl of Lonsdale, one of the most extravagant members of the English aristocracy. In the company of Charlotte Fairbairn, seanchaidh of the Lowther family, we rewind in time to the early days of the Lowther dynasty – to the growth of the Whitehaven coalfields and the tyrannies of 'Wicked Jimmy' – to set the scene for Hugh's birth. Never intended to inherit the estate – 75,000 acres and wealth beyond dreams – the young Earl embarked upon a life of opulence and hedonism, spending vast sums and pretty much squandering the family fortune. As we trace the story of a remarkable life – of the Earl's love of animals; of his extra-marital activities; of his temporary banishment to the Arctic; of his hunts with the Kaiser – we ask what kind of man he was; why his grave is so modest; and... why yellow? Finally we consider the Earl's legacy – that stretches from boxing rules to Arsenal FC's away strip and the AA's livery.

Linescape of an aerial photo taken by C.H. Wood in 1939.

Our guest for the day: Charlotte Fairburn.

Approaching the courtyard at Lowther Castle.

Dave and Charlotte behind the tower gate.

The Emperor's Drive.

Approaching the Lowther family church of St Michael, crypt to the left.

Recruitment advert for the Yellow Earl's Pals Battalion.

The Yellow Earl's understated grave (left, alongside wife Grace's), made of Shap Granite.


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