The oldest part of the estate is a 13th century peel tower. The main house was built for Sir Thomas Lamplugh in the 16th century and, after the house came into the ownership of the Dykes family in about 1800, it was remodelled for the Ballentine-Dykes family in the early 19th century.
Joseph Dykes Ballantine Dykes was High Sheriff of Cumberland for 1807-08 and resided in the house. His eldest son Fretcheville Lawson Ballantine-Dykes served as Member of Parliament for Cockermouth from 1832 to 1836 . The property passed down to Frecheville Hubert Ballantine-Dykes, an Army officer and High Sheriff for 1923–24.
A family member was Chairman of the Maryport and Carlisle Railway in the 1840s. A private station named Dovenby Lodge was provided for the family's use. It closed and the line was lifted in 1935.
The house was acquired by the local authorities from Colonel Ballantine-Dykes for use as a mental hospital in 1930. Following the closure of the hospital, it was bought by Malcolm Wilson, a former rally driver, in January 1998 and, after a major refurbishment, then became home to Ford's World Rally Championship team.
- The Dykes family
- "Dovenby Hall and Adjoining Rear Wing, Bridekirk". British listed buildings. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
- "Some portraits at Dovenby Hall". Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society. 1964. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
- "Dykes, Frecheville Lawson Ballantine of Dovenby Hall, Cockermouth". History of Parliament. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
- "No. 32805". The London Gazette. 13 March 1923. p. 1989.
- Suggitt 2008, p. 96
- Suggitt 2008, p. 97
- "Dovenby Hall History". M Sport. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
- Suggitt, Gordon (2008). Lost Railways of Cumbria (Railway Series). Newbury: Countryside Books. ISBN 978-1-84674-107-4.