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The Willows


The Willows is a town garden of approximately one hectare, laid out by Thomas H Mawson in the first decade of the 20th century.

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):

A suburban garden laid out by Thomas Hayton Mawson in the early 20th century.



The Willows, 1ha, is located in a residential area of Ashton-on-Ribble, immediately south-east of Ashton Park, and north of the River Ribble and the Albert Edward Dock. The site is on the corner of Pedder's Lane, which forms the western boundary of the site. Housing on Ashton Close forms the boundaries to the north and east, and Watery Lane forms the southern boundary.


The short drive leads off Pedder?s Lane, through gates, to the turning circle on the west side of the house.


The house, known as The Willows, is located in the south-west corner of the site. The Willows was built for the Galloway family in the early C19 and was extended during the late C19 and early C20. It is a back-to-front ?L? shape, with the entrance in the internal corner on the north-west side. The south and east fronts look over the gardens. To the north of the house stands the laundry, with the stables beyond, both converted in the C20.


To the east of the house is an area of lawn, bordered to the south by a screen of trees, and to the north by a walk which leads eastwards from the terrace below the east front. An area of shrubs was planned to separate this walk from the Espalier Walk which runs above (to the north), and parallel to it, east from the laundry block. Further north, a third parallel walk, backed by a stone wall in the centre of which is set a substantial gateway, leads east from the stable block. The area between it and the Espalier Walk was intended as the Herb Garden with, to the east, the Rose Garden. This ground is now the site of the flower garden, with a pattern of beds cut into turf.

To the east of the lawn and flower gardens lies the tennis court lawn, the two halves of the garden being divided by a stone wall. The wall predates the early C20 garden improvements, but it was made more decorative as part of the new garden work, being pierced through to form a series of arches decorated with stone balls. Two main gateways through the wall join the two sides of the garden, both originally hung with fine iron gates. The ?Spanish Gate? has gone, but the wrought-iron gate made to Gibson?s design remains. Some of the stone spheres used to decorate the garden walls survive, although many of these are now also missing.

At the east end of the stone-paved walk from the laundry, a flight of semicircular steps lead up to the gateway with the Gibson gate. This gives onto the centre of the tennis lawn enclosure which forms the eastern half of the garden.

The walk from the stable yard, here backed by a flower border in front of a yew hedge, continues to form the north side of the tennis lawn enclosure. Steps in the north-west corner lead down to the level of the lawn, the retaining wall along the length of the northern side being split to form a stone bench. At the east end of the north walk, at the north-east corner of the garden, is a seat set in a hedged alcove. This is balanced by a seat in the south-east corner at the end of the southernmost walk. Between the two, set into the east wall of the garden, is a double seat.

To the south of the tennis lawn is the remains of a plantation of silver willows which predates the present Edwardian garden. To the east, beyond the buttressed stone wall of the formal garden, the area once planted with flowering shrubs has been infilled with housing and lies outside the area here registered.

The walk leading east from the stable yard divided the pleasure grounds from the kitchen garden and working area of the site (see below).

The gardens were originally encircled by a wooded belt which screened the docks to the south but afforded glimpsed views of the countryside beyond. The wooded belt, an area of informal pleasure grounds beyond the formal garden, and a field to the east have all now gone and the surrounding area has been developed for late C20 housing.


To the north of the main garden is an area formerly used as the kitchen garden, originally equipped with greenhouses, lean-tos, cold-frames, and sheds, but now (1999) developed as a housing estate. It lies outside the area here registered.


T H Mawson, The Art and Craft of Garden Making (1st edition 1900)

Studio, 62 (1914), p 273

Studio Year Book (1913), p 126

T H Mawson, Life and Work of an English Landscape Artist (1927)


Plans of the garden (Roll L63), (Kendal Record Office)

Description written: February 1999

Edited: April 1999

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

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):


The gardens of The Willows were laid out for W W Galloway, a local businessman, by Thomas H Mawson (1861-1933). Mawson initially worked in partnership with Dan Gibson and the new designs made use of existing garden enclosures. The work was carried out in two stages, separated by a gap of several years. The first phase was between 1899 and 1902, followed by modifications and extensions in 1912. Mawson was given a free hand by his client, and he considered the commission to be one of the most interesting schemes for improving an old garden with which he had been involved.

Around 1930 the house became a hospital in the ownership of the local Health Board, then later a child development centre. The Willows is now (1990s) part of the Whittingham Hospital, Preston.


  • 20th Century (1901 to 1932)
  • Early 20th Century (1901 to 1932)
Associated People
Features & Designations


  • The National Heritage List for England: Register of Parks and Gardens

  • Reference: GD 2449
  • Grade: II
Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential


20th Century (1901 to 1932)





Electoral Ward