Why Rose Castle?

31st August 2016

The sixty-sixth bishop Graham Dow (2000-2009) was the last bishop of Carlisle in residence at Rose Castle. The Church Commissioners considered selling the property, whilst local leaders debated its future use, beyond the Church.
Perhaps a hotel, or a private residence?
Sarah Snyder, a local resident in Bassenthwaite within the Lake District, had a vision of a fortress castle being used in these modern times as a safe space for pro-active peace and reconciliation to cross divides, and heal wounds. Based on her work at the Cambridge Interfaith Programme, working with people from groups on both sides of many conflicts, it was a long shot idea.
Sarah and colleagues won the interest of two financial backers, and two offers were made to purchase Rose Castle, but initially to no result. The Rose Castle Foundation had been created with the sixty-seventh Bishop of Carlisle James Newcome (from 2009) taking co-chair alongside Professor David Ford, Emeritus Regius Professor at Cambridge University and a founder of the Cambridge Interfaith Programme. Yet there was no castle, and programmes were instead run at locations around the world. Meanwhile Sarah took up position as the Archbishop of Canterbury's Special Advisor for Reconciliation, based at Lambeth Palace.
At the same time, she was notified that fresh offers for the Castle were being gathered again, and closed bids were invited. She renewed efforts to raise funds for a third bid. By then, so much work had been undertaken by the Rose Castle Foundation, despite the uncertain future of the Castle itself.

Out of the blue, a close family friend stepped forward, offering to buy the Castle and Home Farm 50/50 between the two families. The idea was to refurbish the castle as a residential centre for training reconcilers, equipping them to transform conflict within their own spheres of influence.
On 31st August 2016 the private bid was finally accepted and the purchase of Rose Castle concluded. Rose Castle Company Limited was incorporated to take responsibility for maintaining the grade 1 listed castle, gardens and farm, investing substantial funds in its refurbishment. The estate is now home to Rose Castle Foundation, and the Rose Castle Company will also host special events such as weddings, family celebrations and corporate off-sites.

Rose Hospitality

The style of hospitality required to accept strangers across the deep divides of conflict is both risky and transformative. How can enemies with a long history of alienating one another find a safe space in which to meet, break down barriers and build trust and respect? At Rose Castle, they do not just learn about one another in workshop settings, they eat, socialise, relax, share their scriptures and traditions, and in doing so, re-humanise those they have previously only known across metaphorical or actual walls. The Muslim Imam and the Jewish Rabbi. The street gang leaders. Communities fractured by entrenched "us" and "them" divisions.

Building on the work of the Cambridge Interfaith Programme, the Rose Castle Foundation team have pioneered a fresh style of intuitive hospitality, recognising the critical role of a good host, and a respectful guest. We wish to extend this hospitality to all who visit and stay at the Castle. A home of welcome, quite different to a hotel or conference centre.

The role of Rose Castle Company is to host group stays at the Castle for weddings, corporate offsites and family celebrations. It’s mission is to ensure the revenue needed to support teams of catering, hospitality and housekeeping at the Castle and to maintain the building at a high level of comfort for all who stay. There will be large trading losses, offset by commercial revenues from those exclusively hiring Rose Castle for private use. Any trading profits will be recycled into the hard and soft fabric of Rose Castle, to invest for its longevity and sustainability.

The Rose Castle Company will introduce commercial customers to a special style of "Rose hospitality", and introduce guests to the "social heart" agenda of the Rose Castle Foundation's pioneering work and mission. To keep laser focused on its peace and reconciliation agenda, Rose Castle Foundation will have no responsibility for the Castle building itself. Instead, their delegates will pay to use bedrooms and public rooms on a daily basis, and the Foundation will also continue to deliver "Rose on the Road" programmes around the world as part of their global agenda of equipping a generation of reconcilers to transform conflict.

We hope all visitors to Rose can step beyond the splendid rooms to experience the vaulted dungeon within Strickland Tower, and climb the circular stone steps to the roof turrets, witnessing panoramic views of Rose Castle set against the Lake District fells beyond. This is a unique opportunity to re-imagine history, following countless generations in conflict, and glimpsing a future generation of reconcilers and peace builders.