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.