The Ghost of Wicked Jimmy, The Gloomy Earl at Lowther Castle
Sir James Lowther, 1st Earl of Lonsdale (1736 – 1802) was known by many well earned nicknames: the Toadstool Earl, Jimmy Grasp-All, Gloomy Earl, and Wicked Jimmy. When his mistress suddenly died, it is said that he kept her body as company, refusing to acknowledge her death, for several weeks. He is said to have dressed her corpse himself and often dined with her decaying body seated next to him. She was only buried after the servants complained of the smell.
Wicked Jimmy died on 24 May 1802, and it is said that on the anniversary of his burial, his spectre can be seen driving his carriage at break-neck speed through the grounds of Lowther Castle. For a wonderfully written article about Wicked Jimmy go here.
In the late 17th century John Lowther, 1st Viscount Lonsdale rebuilt the family home, then known as Lowther Hall, on a grand scale. The current building is a castellated mansion which was built by Robert Smirke for William Lowther, 1st Earl of Lonsdale between 1806 and 1814, and it was only at that time that Lowther was designated a “castle”. The family fortune was undermined by the extravagance of the 5th Earl of Lonsdale, a famous socialite, and the castle was closed in 1937. During the Second World War, it was used by a tank regiment. Its contents were removed in the late 1940s and the roof was removed in 1957. The shell is still owned by the Lowther Estate Trust.
Lowther Castle is in the historic county of Westmorland, which now forms part of the modern county of Cumbria, England.
photo by tommy martin