Summary

Site is open to the public. Opening may be limited, please check Visitor Information for any restrictions.

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Brief description of site

Gifted to the people of Bolton by Lord Leverhulme, Lever Park has been a country park since 1904. The park, which covers about 160 hectares, includes terraced gardens with walks, water features, a Japanese garden with pool, a scale model of Liverpool Castle, and an ornate pigeon tower with a sewing room on the top floor. Much of this is in the process of restoration.

Brief history of site

The site forms part of the gathering grounds for two reservoirs on the western side which were built in the 1850s. Because of this, the site was offered to Liverpool Corporation in 1899, but when the Corporation declined it was bought by Lord Leverhulme. In 1901 he offered to donate around 160 hectares of the land to Bolton Corporation for a public park. Lever laid out the park at his own expense and offered to maintain it during his lifetime. The park was opened in 1904 and another ceremony was held in 1911 to celebrate the completion of most of the work.

Location information:

Address: Lever Park, Great House Barn Information Centre, Rivington Lane, Horwich, Bolton, BL6 7SB

Locality: Chorley

Local Authorities:

Lancashire; Chorley; Rivington

Historical County: Lancashire

OS Landranger Map Sheet Number: 109 Grid Ref: SD632140
Latitude: 53.6212 Longitude: -2.55783

Directions:

East of the M6, immediately north of Horwich

Visitor facilities

Opening contact details:

The site is open daily, from dawn to dusk. Please telephone 01 204 691549

Visitor information:

Parking, refreshments, WCs, shop. Disabled access. Dogs welcome.

Key information:

Form of site: country park

Purpose of site: country park

Context or principal building: water supply site

Site first created: 1901 to 1911

Main period of development: Early 20th century

Survival: Extant

Site Size (Hectares): 160

Description

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list

DESCRIPTION LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING

The c 160 ha site is situated between the villages of Rivington and Horwich, on land which slopes westwards down to Lower Rivington Reservoir. The park is divided from Rivington Gardens to the east by meadowland. The village of Rivington is on the north-west side and forms part of the northern boundary, and there is a band of agricultural land separating the site from Horwich to the south. The western boundary was originally formed by a wrought-iron fence along the edge of the reservoir, erected by Liverpool Corporation. This has largely been removed apart from a section along the north-west side. The northern boundary is formed by fencing along the edge of Sheep House Lane and Hall Lane. The remaining boundaries are formed by fencing between the site and agricultural land. Within the park there are two farms: Top o'th'Hill Farm close to the centre of the site and Middle Derbyshires towards its southern end. Both these, and fields immediately around them, were excluded from the sale in 1902 to Liverpool Corporation and they have never been part of the Park. The same applies to Rivington and Blackrod High School and its grounds at the southern end of the site. The site is bisected by Rivington Lane which runs north/south between Rivington and Horwich.

ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES

Access to the site is via Rivington Lane which enters the park immediately south of the village of Rivington and immediately north of the outskirts of Horwich. The road from Horwich which joins with Rivington Lane is called Lever Park Avenue; at its junction with Chorley Road there are two polished granite pillars erected in memory of Lord Lever by his son in 1934 (outside the registered area). There is an entrance on the east side of the park from Rivington Gardens where a path runs west across Breres Meadow to a gate leading into Lever Park. Another similar entrance gives access from the south end of Rivington Gardens and there are gated entrances at other points along the eastern and northern boundaries. The park can be entered informally along most of the length of Rivington Lane.

PRINCIPAL BUILDING

Rivington Hall (listed grade II*) is situated close to the north-east corner of the Park. It is a multi-phase building with C16 work visible in the rear of the house, concealed by an C18 symmetrical front. Immediately to the north-west of the house is Rivington Hall Barn (listed grade II), a cruck barn possibly of C16 or C17 date which was restored and altered by Jonathan Simpson for Lord Leverhulme to provide shelter for visitors to the park. A similar barn, called Great House Barn (listed grade II), is situated on the west side of Rivington Lane c 600m south-west of Rivington Hall. It was also altered for visitor use by Jonathan Simpson. Great House Farmhouse and Cottage are situated immediately south of the barn. These have been converted in the late C20 to provide various visitor facilities.

GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS

There is a small informal garden immediately to the south of Rivington Hall. Mature trees frame lawns and there is a small lake c 60m south-west of the Hall which is crossed by a bridge carrying a drive. This garden preserves a degree of intimacy and appropriate scale around the Hall. Apart from the route of the drive across the pond, the garden broadly conforms with what is shown on the 1st edition OS map surveyed 1844. An avenue runs south-west from the bridge over the pond, crossing Rivington Lane, and then runs past Great House Barn and on to the edge of the reservoir. A second route runs eastwards through woodland and curves southwards to join Rivington Lane, while a third route cuts a sinuous line through woodland and runs south to connect with routes running through the park. A plan published by Mawson in Civic Art: Studies in Town Planning, Parks, Boulevards and Open Spaces in 1911 shows that he had planned five avenues radiating from the Hall, but the executed plan as shown on the 1929 OS map shows that a less formal approach was used.

The other main focus within the park is a reconstruction of the ruin of Liverpool Castle (listed grade II), called Rivington Castle, which was designed by Jonathan Simpson. This was begun in 1912 but was never completed as intended. It is situated on a promontory overlooking the shore of the reservoir, c 1.5 km south-west of Rivington Hall, and is the focus for three radiating avenues running roughly north, north-east and south-east. This is not shown on Mawson's 1911 plan but it is on the 1929 OS map which suggests that the planned formality of avenues radiating from the Hall was softened in favour of formal emphasis on the Castle. Views across the reservoir to the south and west and over the park to the moors to the north and east are obtained from the Castle. The principal route through the park is Rivington Lane which carries vehicular traffic.

The parkland consists of a mixture of open ground, woodland and avenues. The specific aim of the design was to create a country park which utilised the existing moorland topography and water features and enhanced the rural qualities of the area (Mawson 1911). To this end a number of villas and houses were removed 'to destroy all suggestion of the suburb' (Mawson 1911). Existing woodland to the north and south of Rivington Hall, south of Rivington village and south of Top o'th' Hill Farm was augmented and new planting undertaken, principally around Great House Barn and to the east of Rivington and Blackrod High School.

The edge of the reservoir, which has a path along it for much of its length, apart from that section belonging to Top o'th' Hill Farm, is wooded. This woodland is not shown on Mawson's 1911 plan or on the 1929 OS map.

REFERENCES

T H Mawson, Civic Art: Studies in Town Planning, Parks, Boulevards and Open Spaces (1911), (quoted in Cobham Resource Consultants)

M D Smith, Leverhulme's Rivington (1984)

Lever Park, (Cobham Resource Consultants nd, c 1989)

Lever Park Management Plan, (Pauline Roscoe Associates 1996)

Maps

T H Mawson, Lever Park, Rivington, Bolton, 1911

Plan based on Mawson's notes and annotations to the survey map of 1905

Map based on the executed plan and the OS 6" to 1 mile 1929-30 (All reproduced in Cobham Resource Consultants)

OS 6" to 1 mile:

1st edition surveyed 1845-7

2nd edition published 1909

1929 edition with additions 1938

 

Description written: May 1997; Amended: June 1998

Register Inspector: CEH

Edited: March 1999

 

Site designation(s)

The National Heritage List for England: Register of Parks and Gardens Grade II Reference GD1946

Environment

Terrain: The site is situated between the villages of Rivington and Horwich, on land which slopes westwards down to Lower Rivington Reservoir.

External web site link: http://www.leverpark.co.uk/

External web site link: http://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1000948

History

The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list

HISTORIC DEVELOPMENT

Lever Park was one of a series of commissions carried out by Thomas Hayton Mawson (1861-1933) for the industrialist and philanthropist Lord Leverhulme. The site was formed from land belonging to the Manor of Rivington which was owned from 1212 until 1605 by the Pilkington family. After several changes of ownership the Hall and Manor of Rivington were offered to Liverpool Corporation in 1899 because they formed part of the gathering grounds for two reservoirs on the western side of the site which were built in the 1850s. The Corporation declined the offer and the site was bought by Lever. In 1901 he offered to donate around 160 hectares of the land to Bolton Corporation for a public park, keeping the remaining land on the eastern side of the site for his own house and gardens. This site, called Rivington Gardens (see description of this site elsewhere in the Register), was also laid out to designs by Mawson.

In 1902 Liverpool Corporation sought to acquire the land through an Act of Parliament. Lever challenged this legislation and the case was settled by a Select Committee of the House of Commons which decided to exclude the area around Lever's dwelling and some of the village properties, but to allow the purchase of the remainder providing that it was maintained as a park for the benefit of the people of Bolton and the public generally. Lever laid out the park at his own expense and offered to maintain it during his lifetime. The park was opened in 1904 and another ceremony was held in 1911 to celebrate the completion of most of the work. In 1974 it passed to the North West Water Authority following local government reorganisation and it has continued to be maintained as a public park.
 

People associated with this site

Architect: James Lomax-Simpson (born 1882 died 1976)

Designer: Thomas Hayton Mawson (born 05/05/1861 died 14/11/1933)

Features

lake

walk

garden terrace

pavilion

ornamental bridge

folly

pool

References

Organisations associated with this site

Lancashire Gardens Trust

Historic England Role: Designating Authority

The Friends of Lever Park Role: Special Interest Group

Sources of information

Historic England Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest

English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest, (Swindon: English Heritage, 2008) [on CD-ROM]

Images

  • Lever Park, Rivington Hall

    Lever Park, Rivington Hall

  • Lever Park, cobbled approach

    Lever Park, cobbled approach

  • Lever Park, entrance to the castle

    Lever Park, entrance to the castle

  • Lever Park, exit to the castle

    Lever Park, exit to the castle

  • Lever Park, interior view of the castle

    Lever Park, interior view of the castle

  • Lever Park, information centre

    Lever Park, information centre

  • Lever Park, inside the round tower

    Lever Park, inside the round tower

  • Lever Park, the reservoir

    Lever Park, the reservoir

  • Lever Park, tree-lined track

    Lever Park, tree-lined track