Garden History

Garden History

The garden and parkland at Browsholme is in the ‘picturesque’ style extolled by the great landscape gardeners of the late 19th C such as Repton, Eames and Gilpin.  Here we see a romantic and natural landscape that J WM Turner landscape painted in 1798 which replaced the polite terraces of the Queen Anne period.

The earliest illustration c.1720, from Samuel Buck’s Yorkshire Sketchbook, shows walled gardens in front of the house.  John Parker (1695- 1754) re-planned the front garden building a magnificent Georgian stables in front of the Hall and introducing terraces. At that time we also see on an early estate plan a ‘wilderness’ garden in the form of a union jack commemorating the 1711 Act of Union; which the current ‘yew walk’ is a remnant of a hedge planted at that time.


Initial sketch of the hallPainting of Browsholme Hall
Artists painting

William Gilpin (1724 – 1804) was an English artist, Anglican cleric, schoolmaster and author, best known as one of the originators of the idea of the ‘picturesque’. In 1768 Gilpin published his popular Essay on Prints where he defined the picturesque as ‘”that kind of beauty which is agreeable in a picture” and began to expound his “principles of picturesque beauty”, based largely on his knowledge of landscape painting.  During the late 1760s and 1770s Gilpin travelled extensively in the summer holidays and applied these principles to the landscapes he saw, committing his thoughts and spontaneous sketches to notebooks. It is on these travels that he encountered John Parker (1755-1797) and in turn influence his son Thomas Lister Parker  (1779- 1858) to redesign the landscape we see today.

The earliest map of 1750 and a contemporary engraving engraving, by Buckler, shows terraces and a ‘wilderness’ garden. The former walled garden has disappeared to be replaced by a more open landscape with a new Georgian coach house at the entrance and impressive steps leading up to the Hall.  The ‘wilderness’ contrary to its description was a formal garden of paths a shrubberies where the ladies could wander and appreciate the nature.

Landscape Painting with the hall in distanceLandscape Painting with Browsholme Hall in the distance
Painting of the gates at Browsholme Hall

Thomas Lister on his return from the ‘grand’ tour in 1803 removed the terracing that Turner painted in 1798, to be replaced by a larger front lawn, separated from the meadow land by a ‘ha-ha’ . His grandfathers stables were moved and rebuilt in the new stablyard, to give an uninterrupted view towards the new ‘eye catcher’  a stone arch previously at Ingleton Hall he had inherited and provided a new  prestigious entrance to his ancient family home.

Browsholme Hall Exterior Shot

By 1975, the landscape was neglected and the fine ‘picturesque’ views compromised by natural invasion of sycamore and birch, the lake a fraction of its original size and many of the oak and beech planted 150 years before diseased, or fallen.

In 1978 the restoration began with the dredging of the lake to create a 3 acre expanse of water, followed over the thirty years by more ponds and water features. Unwanted trees were removed to allow for a programme of new planting, while close to the Hall shrubberies are being revived. It is a gradual process which Robert and Amanda hope visitors will enjoy.

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Our telephone number is01254 827 160 (Opens call application when possible)