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Monument record MDR7323 - Knowle Hill Gardens, Ticknall

Type and Period (2)

  • (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

A house was built at Knowle Hill by Walter Burdett of Foremark in c. 1700 into which he moved in time for Christmas 1701. It was his home until his death in 1732. It was later described as being 'of an extraordinary mode of structure', in that it 'climbed irregularly from the bottom of the dell to the summit of its western bank'. It was accompanied by an early 18th century garden. When the house was demolished in 1767, Sir Robert Burdett took the opportunity to create a romantic ruin and Gothick summerhouse in its stead. From 1942, when the estate was put on the market, Knowle Hill underwent considerable decay and fragmentation, with the custodian's cottage and summerhouse being sold to one individual, the two pools or fishponds to a neighbouring farmer, and the wooded valleys being leased to the Forestry Commission who felled the mature trees and replaced them, at least in part, with stands of conifer. In 1988 the Landmark Trust undertook the re-uniting and restoration of Knowle Hill. It was difficult to disentangle the remains of the original house from the picturesque embellishment of its site of 1767-9. The present buildings surround a courtyard on the lip of the valley. The lower, eastern range is the 1760s summerhouse. Below it the ground falls away steeply, and a lower storey contains stonework which seems characteristic of the 1700 work. Below this is one of the most intriguing features of the site, an underground passage leading to a circular domed chamber with a second smaller chamber beyond it. These are cut out of the sandstone, and there is evidence to suggest that they were part of Walter's house. The garden was found to survive in surprisingly complete form. The original garden lay in two small converging valleys, the main one running from south to north. On the bank are the buildings and also the terraces which are the most substantial element in the garden layout. At the head of the valley is a rectangular pool, around two sides of which ran a raised walk. A cascade runs from its north-east corner to the valley bottom. From the pool to the buildings is a narrow walk and a wide upper terrace, known as the Pleasure Ground. This ends in what is almost a mount, with a seat on its top. At the base of the mount are the remains of what might have been a grotto. In the second valley, the main feature is a large, half silted up fish pond, with an impressively embanked dam across its lower end. (1) Fish Pond shown (twice) on early OS maps at SK 3500 2570 and SK 3518 2549, both associated with Knowlehill at SK 3517 2567. (2-4).

Sources/Archives (4)

  • <1> Article in serial: Haslam, C. 1993. 'The house that climbs irregularly', SPAB (Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings) News. Vol. 14 (2), pp 10-12.
  • <2> Map: OS. 1887. OS County Series 1:10560, Sheet Derbys LVIII NW. 1887. 1:10560.
  • <3> Map: OS. 1924. OS County Series 1:10560, sheet Derbys LVIII NW. Edition of 1924, revised 1920. 1:10560.
  • <4> Index: RCHME. 1995. New National Forest Project: 922901. 922901. P979-80.



Grid reference Centred SK 34976 25661 (272m by 425m) (Approximate)

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Record last edited

Jan 19 2015 11:36AM

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