For this month we arranged a tour with the Groundwork Trust of Rivington Terraced Gardens. Lottery funding of £4.6 million is available in stages to develop parts of the former Leverhulme Estate. Briony (Education Officer with Groundwork) came along and met us at the Lower House car park.
After a brief intro we walked up to the seven arch bridge. The bridge was intended to link the upper formal part of the estate with the lower, wilder part, while avoiding having to use the public road that ran underneath. The design was based on a bridge seen by Lord Lever in Nigeria. He sent his stonemason to Nigeria to get details of the design.
Onward, we next stopped at the “Pepper Pot” gate. This is one of four gated entrances to the estate and used to have a large gatehouse where the head gardener lived. It is adjacent to the kitchen gardens so his commute to work was minimal. The kitchen gardens have all been cleared, with the residual stonework and the Pepper Pots pointed to prevent any further collapse.
Turning in to the tennis lawn we could see how much clearing work has been done. The workmen were levelling the ground ready for turf, while the original tennis court has been preserved. The summer houses have been refurbished with a view to using them for music and family events in future. Many of the original paths and steps have been revealed through work by volunteers. We walked past the lawns to the Italian Lake which has been completely refurbished and is now pristine. Many of the shrubs and trees have been coppiced with the intention they will grow back lower. At some point in the future people may be allowed to swim in it as Lord Lever did!
Up more newly revealed stone steps and pathways we arrived at the Pigeon Tower. The tower is now completely refurbished, with a new door and all the internal features cleaned up. We weren’t able to go in but it will be opened to the public on open days. It is suggested Lord Lever had the tower built for his wife so she could spend time with her pastimes while taking in the views.
At the top we stopped at the site of the residence “Roynton”, the house where Lord and Lady Lever entertained and lived from time to time. The original was burnt down by a suffragette, Edith Rigby of Preston, in 1911. It was rebuilt in stone with a grand ballroom. The site has been cleared of undergrowth and the layout and surrounding walkways have been highlighted. The intention is to rebuild the entrance arch. Much work is ongoing and will continue for at least another 18 months when the Japanese lake and gardens, along with the Ravine, will be refurbished and functional. At that point the original koi carp will be returned to the lake.
After this walk’n’talk we finished off with a trip up the Pike, returning via the reservoir shore path to the Rivington Bowling Club for lunch. Vic
Next walk— Tuesday 14th May: A walk to Sugar Loaf. Meet at Rivington Bowling Club, Horrobin Ln, Rivington, BL6 7SE at 9.45am to start at 10 (parking on the road across the reservoir). Lunch at Rivington Tea Rooms. Leaders: David & Dilys 07535571750