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Monument record MDR11752 - Willersley Castle Grounds, Cromford

Type and Period (6)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

The Willersley Estate was sold in 1782 to the pioneering mill-owner Richard Arkwright (knighted 1786), who had moved his business to Cromford in 1771. Pleasure grounds were created for Sir Richard by John Webb, whose master, William Emes had earlier worked on the adjacent Lovers Walks. From the late 18th century the grounds of Willersley Castle were opened to visitors to Matlock Bath, initially every day but from 1801 on two days each week, with a set route beginning on the south bank of the River Derwent, and concluding at gates which connect with the public pleasure grounds, Lovers Walks to the north. The gardener guided visitors through the pleasure grounds from the kitchen garden to the gate leading to Lovers Walks. The c. 22ha site comprises some 13ha of pleasure grounds and picturesque walks, and c. 9ha of parkland. The site has a dramatic landform with partly wooded, rocky cliffs and west-facing slopes descending to the River Derwent to the north-west of the Castle; there are further cliffs to the north-east. The ground drops sharply below the Castle and pleasure grounds to the park, which slopes gently south to the River Derwent. The park lies in two discrete areas to the north and south of the Castle. The larger, or south park comprises level riverside meadows. The park or paddock to the north of the Castle was conceived as a picturesque feature on the circuit of the pleasure grounds, at the west end of the upper terrace low stone walls and a concrete base remain from a late 19th century pavilion. The formal and informal gardens lie to the east, north and west of the Castle. A late 19th century rock garden is constructed on the south-facing slope to the west of the Castle. The kitchen garden lies on high ground c. 270m north-east of the Castle. This roughly wedge-shaped garden is today (2000) being developed as the garden to a late 20th century dwelling at the north end of the garden on the site of a range of 19th century glasshouses. A late 19th description indicates that there were extensive vineries, as well as peach, melon and fig houses, together with pears, plums and 'good crops of leading vegetables' in the kitchen garden. These do not survive today. To the west of the kitchen garden is a small formal rose garden. A gravel walk runs parallel to the kitchen garden wall and ascends a short flight of stone steps to an upper terrace, where the stone foundations of an early 19th century detached conservatory form a rectangular border. (1) Landscape features relating to the formal grounds of Willersley Castle were identified during survey in 2008. The rose garden was identified at SK 2969 5751, measuring 30m by 20m, and the former kitchen garden was identified at SK 2971 5745 (south-west corner), measuring c. 93m by 87m with a 2.5m high brick wall surrounding the area. A garden feature (possibly the foundations of a former 19th century conservatory) was identified at SK 2969 5751, to the north of the rose garden, measuring 15m by 30m, defined by brick foundations at ground level with four steps leading up to the feature at the south-east corner. (2) The grounds of Willersley Castle have a number of associative links which are of international importance and exceptional significance, being created by Sir Richard Arkwright, and built from the wealth created through his position as one of the founding fathers of the modern industrial factory system. The work was finished by his son, Richard Arkwright II. Willersley is an integral part of the cultural landscape of Cromford and the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site and so the grounds have exceptional communal significance. The design of the landscape is attributed to John Webb, a pupil of William Emes and a national figure of importance in his own right and this association is of considerable significance. Although some design elements have been partially lost, the grounds of Willersley Castle, in the picturesque style are of international importance and exceptional significance. (3)

Sources/Archives (3)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: English Heritage. Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England. Part 10: Derbyshire. PG4267.
  • <2> Unpublished document: Jurecki, K (ARCUS). 2008. Derwent Valley Mills, World Heritage Site Landscape Project: Cromford and Belper Survey Transects. C2/1, C2/2, C2/3.
  • <3> Unpublished document: ArcHeritage. 2015. Willersley Castle Registered Park and Garden, Cromford, Derbyshire, landscape conservation management plan.



Grid reference Centred SK 2976 5739 (740m by 817m)
World Heritage Site Derwent Valley Mills

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

  • EDR3942
  • EDR3959

Please contact the HER for details.

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Record last edited

May 24 2023 4:22PM

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