Use Places & People to search over 6,600 parks and gardens in the UK and 2,100 biographies of people associated with them. Image location: Bedgebury National Pinetum

Learn about the rich heritage of parks and gardens in Topics.
Image location: Powis Castle

Follow News & Events, updated regularly with the latest information affecting historic parks and gardens. Image location: Sheffield Botanical Gardens

Visit the Schools for ideas and activities to encourage the interest of children and young people in their local parks. Image location: Trentham

Join us as a volunteer and Research & Record historic parks and gardens in your area.
Image location: Cirencester Abbey

View the Illustrated Glossary which provides definitions and accompanying images for terms and concepts associated with historic parks and gardens. Image location: Pannett Park

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

Rivington Gardens was one of a series of three major private gardens produced by Thomas Hayton Mawson (1861-1933) in collaboration with the industrialist and philanthropist William Hesketh Lever, Lord Leverhulme (1851-1925), the others being The Hill, Hampstead, London, begun in 1906, and Thornton Manor, Thornton Hough, Merseyside, also begun in 1906. The Rivington site was purchased by Lever in 1899 as a parcel of land which included the area now occupied by Lever Park to the west. Lever had already formulated ideas on how the grounds might be developed and in 1901 a single-storey wooden bungalow called 'Roynton Cottage' and intended for weekend visits and shooting parties was designed by Lever's school friend Jonathan Simpson. In 1905 Lever met Mawson who collaborated with him in the design of the gardens over the period 1906-22. However, others were also involved in the design including Thomas's son, Edward Prentice Mawson (1885-1954), who undertook the overall design and in the latter years was as much responsible for the project as his father; Robert Atkinson (1883-1952) who drew illustrations in the journal 'Civic Art' in 1911; and the landscape and architectural firm of James Pulham & Son who, in 1921, were responsible for a Japanese style garden and a steep and rugged ravine with waterfalls. Lever himself also influenced the gardens' layout, designing a seven-arched bridge across Roynton Lane.

In 1913 the bungalow was destroyed in an arson attack by the suffragette Edith Rigby. When rebuilt in stone it was a place for entertaining with a circular ballroom, glass-roofed pergola and winter garden. Following Lever's death in 1925 the house and gardens were purchased by Bolton brewer John Magee. After Magee's death in 1939 the site was acquired by Liverpool Corporation and in 1948 the bungalow and four entrance lodges were demolished and the gardens became open to the public. In 1974 the site passed to the North West Water Authority following local government reorganisation. Rivington Gardens was first registered within the Historic Parks and Gardens Register at Grade II on 1 April 1986.

Four structures within the gardens were listed at Grade II on 30 January 1987: these were the Pigeon Tower at the north-east corner of Lord Leverhulme's Terraced Gardens at SD639143, Lever Bridge in Lord Leverhulme's Terraced Garden at SD638142, Loggia c.70 Metres West of Pigeon Tower in Lord Leverhulme's Terraced Gardens at SD639143, and Two Archways and Associated Retaining Walls to Two Stone Staircases at North Corner of Tennis Lawn in Leverhulme's Terraced Gardens at SD639142.

Site timeline

1899: The Rivington site was bought by Lord Leverhulme.

1905: Lord Leverhulme met T.H. Mawson.

After 1939: The site was acquired by Liverpool Corporation.

1974: The site passed to the North West Water Authority.

People associated with this site

Architect: John Andrews

Architect: Robert Frank Atkinson (born 1869 died 1923)

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

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

Features

steps

A long flight of stone steps, called the Long Walk, which leads upslope from a drive about 20m south-east of the site of Stone Lodge, connecting the lower terraces to the upper drive.

loggia

An arcaded loggia which has steps up to a rooftop platform giving views over the lake and across wooded slopes to the west.

Designation status: The National Heritage List for England: Listed Building Designation Grade II

pavilion

The remains of another arcaded pavilion.

planting

Feature created: 1921 to 1922

The Japanese Garden consists of a lake fed by a waterfall which falls over steep rockwork cliffs on its west side.

ornamental bridge

An ornamental arched footbridge called Levers Bridge, said to have been designed by Lever himself, crosses Roynton Lane and connects with steps.

Designation status: The National Heritage List for England: Listed Building Designation Grade II

summerhouse

A summer house with paired Tuscan columns.

rockwork

On one side the lake is framed by rockwork cliffs.

waterfall

balustrade

A balustraded walk.

lawn

The Great Lawn.

boating lake

An area where a former swimming pool/boating lake is situated some 100m north of the bungalow site.

natural landscape

Feature created: 1921

A steep gorge called The Ravine is situated towards the southern end of the site.

cascade

kitchen garden

The kitchen garden has four partially ruinous stone-walled compartments, the north end bay of which was formerly occupied by a glasshouse, together with a small group of ruined buildings that comprised a bothy, toll and potting sheds, store shed, small stable, fernery, boiler room and garage.

pool

A small pool with rockwork and a rusticated statue base approximately 60m from the bungalow site.

terraced walk

Terrace paths formed from irregularly-shaped and set flags, dressed rubble walls, flights of stone steps.

tower

Feature created: 1910

The dovecote tower is commonly known as the pigeon tower. It is a tall, French Gothic-style building.

Designation status: The National Heritage List for England: Listed Building Designation Grade II

ornamental bridge

Seven arch bridge.

boundary fence

The gardens are bounded by fences along the north, west and south sides.

entrance

There are three main entrances to the gardens, all of which originally had lodges now demolished. The entrances are situated at the north-east, north-west and south-east corners of the site.

summerhouse

There are several summerhouses.

steps

At the north-east corner of the lawn there is a pair of stone staircases leading down to two stone archways.

steps

A flight of stone steps, called the Orchestra Steps.

tower

Feature created: 1733

An eminence about 300 metres south-east of the gardens is the site of Rivington Pike Tower which is a prominent local landmark.

Designation status: The National Heritage List for England: Listed Building Designation Grade II