Secular Display

Very few sites of secular display from this period have been investigated, beyond the 20th century war memorials (see above). One notable monument type that has been studied are the formal gardens of the 18th and 19th centuries. A number of internationally famous landscape designers are known to have worked in the North West, beginning with Henry Wise at Stonyhurst (L) in the last years of the 17th century, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown (Lowther, Cu; Knowsley, M, Doddington Park, Eaton Hall, Dunham Massey, and Tatton Park, C), Humphry Repton (Lathom, Scarisbrick, Garswood L; Aston Lodge, Warrington; Crewe Hall C), and William Emes (Platt Hall, Heaton Hall GMC; Tatton Hall, Crewe Hall, Oulton Hall, Peover Hall, Eaton Hall, Cholmondeley Hall C), and Sir Joseph Paxton and Edward Kemp at Birkenhead Park (the world’s first public park), and Paxton’s protégé, Edward Milner. Other designers who worked in the north-west include Gertrude Jekyll (Dyke Nook Lodge, Accrington, L), William Henderson, the prolific Thomas Mawson (Stanley Park, Blackpool etc.), through to Sir Peter Shepheard who designed Lancaster University, and the living garden designer Arabella Lennox-Boyd. 

Desk-top studies of historic designed landscapes (HDLs) were undertaken in Lancashire (Bennis and Dyke 1998; 507 sites studied), Greater Manchester (297 sites studied), Cheshire (Bennis and Dyke 1995; 56 sites studied), and Merseyside (Gallagher 1994; 24 sites studied). These were undertaken to help enhance what was then the English Heritage (now Historic England) Register of parks and gardens of special historic interest in England, included a number of deer parks and country house gardens with medieval or early post-medieval origins, besides 19th and 20th-century institutional, civic, and cemetery/memorial landscapes. The Merseyside Parks and Open Spaces project extended Gallagher’s limited remit, and recorded around 100 sites, including city squares in Liverpool. In Lancashire these studies been taken to a second phase, with visits to 291 sites, and recommendations to local planning authorities for ‘local listing’ (Barker et al (2013).

Since 2010, the Cheshire Gardens Trust have been carrying out a research and recording programme for non-designated parks and gardens in Cheshire, Warrington, and Halton. 59 reports have been received by the HER and have identified survival of significant features from parks and gardens not previously known to the HER. The National Trust has undertaken a study of the 18th century gardens that surround Quarry Bank Mill (CH) and the wider designed, romantic, 19th century landscape. At Allan Bank, Grasmere (C) 109 archaeological features and/or garden components were recorded in a survey of the 19th century grounds. At Holbeck Ghyll, the grounds of the Low Wood Hotel was found to have Victorian leisure features such as formal gardens, cockpit, wells, and a bowling green. Also, in Cumbria the recent inscription of the Lake District as a UNESCO world heritage site involved reviewing the designed and managed landscapes of the area.

In Greater Manchester the formal terraced gardens at Worsley New Hall, Salford (GM), were investigated between 2011 and 2014 (Salford Archaeology 2014). Designed by the well-known landscape gardener Andrew Nestfield for the Earl of Ellesmere, the formal parterres were arranged along a series of three terraces. The remains of footpaths, terrace steps, and bedding edges were located along with the site of three fountain basins.

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