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Victorian Limestone Water Garden Uncovered

An unusual horticultural artefact from the Victorian era has been unearthed at a Lake District hotel on the shores of Windermere.

The ornate limestone rockery and water garden has been discovered at the south end of Low Wood Bay Resort & Spa during pruning work and the removal of overgrown foliage around the venue’s grounds.

Believed to have been originally created sometime in the mid to late 1800s, the water garden features an extensive limestone rockery with three pools – a larger one and two smaller ones linked by mini waterfalls. It was discovered by the hotel grounds team whilst clearing overgrown paths under 12 inches of leaf mould and debris.

The most likely date for its original construction is at or around the hotel’s rebuild and re-opening in 1859 after a major fire in 1856. It is thought that the water garden was buried and lost most probably during the second world war while the hotel was closed. When it re-opened after the war, there would not have been the staff to look after the grounds as there had been in its earlier heydays of the 1930s.

Executive chairman of English Lakes Hotels Resorts & Venues Simon Berry explains: “We’re keen to find out if any local historians can shed any further light on the provenance and background of the water garden and the limestone used to create it, as we have no official record of when it was installed and last seen. It doesn’t appear in Michael Berry’s book about the 300-year history of Low Wood Bay and Lakeland tourism."

“It seems that at some point it became overgrown and disappeared from sight until now. There have been small pieces of limestone unearthed over the years, so there was always an idea there that there was something there, but we did not realise the scale of the garden or that it included ponds and waterfalls until the latest grounds work."

“We are very pleased that this feature of the resort’s grounds is now back on show for guests and visitors to enjoy.”

The hotel has installed a new water circulation system for the ponds and repaired leaks from them but other than that, the water garden is intact and as originally found with no stones moved from where they were uncovered.


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