THE home and gardens of the Cavendish family at Holker Hall has seen everything from prime ministers to royalty during decades of events.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of being open to the public and today's pictures from The Mail archive feature just a few of the events and visitors seen through the years.

The hall and grounds were due to open from Friday, March 20 but following concerns about coronavirus the opening has now been cancelled.

The earliest records of a house on the Holker Hall site stretch back to the start of the 16th century.

The Estate has never been bought or sold but has passed by inheritance through just three families: the Prestons, the Lowthers and the Cavendishes.

In more recent decades the grounds have been the former home of a motor museum and for many years hosted the Lakeland Rose Show - which attracted 27,000 people when last held at Holker in July 1986.

The Duke of Edinburgh was a regular visitor to the grounds to take part in carriage driving trials against his great rival and friend George Bowman.

In November 1980 actor Jeremy Brett was at the hall on location for filming of the Edwardian costume drama The Good Soldier.

August 1962 saw Prime Minister Harold MacMillan as a house guest while on what was described as a "working holiday" while a reception was given to Margaret Thatcher in September 1986.

Among royal visitors has been Queen Mary in September 1938 and Princess Michael of Kent, to open one of the rose shows in the 1970s.

In May 1986 around 2,500 model aircraft fans met in the grounds for what must have been a pretty noisy rally.

There was a disastrous fire in 1871 which destroyed the entire west wing, including paintings, furniture, statues, portraits and valuable books.

William Cavendish, the 7th Duke of Devonshire, began plans to rebuild the west wing on an even grander scale using plans by architects Paley and Austin of Lancaster.

This wing is the part of the house that is now open to the public.

The Library has a collection of 3,500 books, many of them survivors from the great fire.

The grand staircase was hand carved by estate workers and works on the cantilever principle, with every baluster having a unique design.

Holker's ground include trees dating back to the 1750s and examples of the rare breed menil fallow deer.

You can find out more about opening times and events at