A tale of two gardens as historic houses at Rydal join forces

Two of the country’s most admired gardens are joining forces to offer a unique tour in the heart of the Lake District in the “year of the English garden”.

Visitors will be given a guided tour of the totally contrasting formal Mawson-designed gardens at Rydal Hall, and then, adjacent, the Romantic garden at Rydal Mount.

gardens in may

At Rydal Hall, one of the most magnificent buildings in the Lakes now used as a conference and retreat centre for the diocese of Carlisle, the formal Edwardian gardens were designed by landscape architect and town planner Thomas Hayton Mawson in 1911. The Italianate terracing includes herbaceous borders and lawns set against the imposing architecture of the Hall.

Nearby Rydal Mount was the home of the poet William Wordsworth who began the work of landscaping the grounds in a natural way in the manner of the Romantic movement. His designs and plans are used by the gardeners there today, to recreate what the poet intended.

“It is remarkable that in a tiny village such as this there should be two prime examples of completely opposite and contrasting styles of gardens,” said Peter Elkington, the curator of Rydal Mount, which is still owned by the Wordsworth family. “There is probably nowhere else in the country where in such close proximity you can see two completely different approaches to garden design.”

The tours will be led by the head gardener from Rydal Hall, Kate Jackson, and Mr Elkington “We are great admirers of each other’s gardens and it seemed obvious that a joint tour could provide something really special for garden lovers,” said Kate. “We’re really excited about it.”

Tours will begin in April, once a month, and booking must be made by calling Rydal Mount 0n 015394 33002.


4:30pm- Tour begins at Rydal Hall, where head gardener Kate Jackson will introduce the formal garden and the Quiet Garden, with a visit to the “Grot”, a 1695 artists’ viewing station. This was frequently visited by William Wordsworth and features in his  poem, An Evening Walkgardens pic

5:30pm – Visitors will cross the road to Rydal Mount, Wordsworth’s home from 1813 until his death in 1850. The poet was a keen landscape gardener and designed the garden which contains fell-side terraces, including Dora’s Terrace, rock pools,  and the poet’s outdoor ‘writing hut’ where he composed works that still shape culture today. Peter Elkington will explain how Wordsworth brought his vision to the grounds.

6:30pm – The tour finishes with an informal chat and a refreshment break (wine or juice, and a piece of Grasmere gingerbread) on the garden terrace at Rydal Mount or inside the house.

The cost of the tour is £I2 per person.


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