Mawson Gardens Rydal Hall


View from lower garden

View from lower garden










Rydal Hall is situated in the heart of the English Lake District with stunning views over the Rothay Valley, with the Fairfield Horseshoe and Nab Scar as a backdrop. Most of the building was constructed in the 19th century with certain parts dating back to the 16th century.

Now the Carlisle Diocesan Retreat and Conference centre, together with being home to the international Rydal Hall Community.

Seat of the Le Fleming family for more than 400 years, Thomas H Mawson was commissioned at the beginning of the Twentieth Cebnury, to create a series of Italianate terraces sweeping down from the main house.

The gardens fell into dereliction after the Second World War and in September 2005, with grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and others, work began to restore them to their former glory. The repairs to all the stone work, urns and finials are now complete whilst the herbaceous borders, vegetable garden and landscaped grounds are undergoing long term development.

Simple in layout with little area set aside for planting, the concrete balustrades and staircases take centre stage.  A large inset fountain dominates the terrace garden with five pergolas situated around the edge utilising the existing breathtaking landscape of the Lake district beyond.  

These features are typical of Mawson, who’s grand Italianate designs had become very popular at this time.  Simple looking though this may seem, the Italian attention to detail becomes evident almost immediately.  All of the spherical finnials around the balustrades appear the same, but closer inspection reveals a slightly different design on the corners and stairways.

A pair of Lions heads flank the stairway to the terrace garden from the side garden on the left.  This smaller garden also has its own herbaceous borders.

From the main terrace garden are stunning views into the landscape beyond, but go through the iron gates and descend the diagonal stairs and you are brought to a beautiful structure resembling a roman shrine, reaching the full height of the terrace.  Its columns adding a welcome break to the towering walls.

Attention to detail is even evident in the latch on the iron gate.  This design echoes that already existing on the house and keystones of the terrace walls.

A unique feature to the coping stones is the joint structure used to anchor them in place without the use of mortar.  Perhaps somebody knows if there is an architectural term for this and indeed if this a unique to Mawson.

Herbaceous borders are few but well planted, whilst vines and roses climb over one of the pergolas creating a tranquil seat below the main house, from which to view the surroundings.

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