Unless you are an aficionado in the subject of garden design, you may not have heard of Thomas Hayton Mawson, however you may well know of many of the wonderful gardens he designed during his illustrious career. 2021 is the 160th anniversary of his birth.

Early in his working life, Thomas moved to Windermere to set up a nursery business following a keen interest in gardening whilst growing up. Lakeland Nurseries was a venture with his two brothers and allowed Thomas the chance to explore his passion of garden design.

What were his greatest achievements?

Thomas Hayton Mawson designed some of the most celebrated gardens in the Lake District and Cumbria. He also designed the ‘Palace of Peace’ gardens at the Hague in 1908 and had a hand in the Smokey Mountains National Park in America. As well as garden design he was a published author. In 1901, he wrote two comprehensive works called ‘The Art and Craft of Garden Making’ which is now regarded as the foundation of modern landscape gardening.

What gardens did he design in Cumbria?

Langdale Chase

Langdale Chase

The Langdale Chase hotel is situated on the shores of Windermere. The grounds, designed by Mawson, boast a private jetty and stunning views. Looking out over Lake Windermere and the sensational Western Fells, Langdale Chase has an enviable lakeside location, surrounded by 6 acres of gardens created in 1894 by Thomas Mawson. In Spring they blaze with Rhododendrons and fragrant Azaleas whilst the glorious and longstanding Wisteria delicately perfumes the elegant terrace. Summer into autumn heralds Hydrangeas, primeval gigantic Gunnera leaves, whilst our wildflowers and lakeshore shrubs attract the butterflies. The cooler months bring out the warming colours of the Copper Beach trees along the shoreline and the distinct yellow spikes of massed Mahonias.  Above all this, the 360 year old oak may lose its leaves, but never its magnificence.

Find out more about Langdale Chase Hotel

Graythwaite Hall

Graythwaite Hall is situated near the beautiful Lakeland Village of Hawkshead. The grand grade II listed building is the ancestral home of the Sandys family. Famously Edwin Sandys became the Archbishop of York in the 16th Century and helped found the Hawkshead Grammar School, which was attended by William Wordsworth. Today the estate at Graythwaite is now the home of adventure with bush craft, teambuilding and water-based activities. The house isn’t open to visitors but the Mawson gardens can be viewed in the summer months.



The historic gardens at Holehird near Windermere are still open to the public today and maintained by the Lakeland Horticultural Society. If you have a passion for plants but lack the space ay yours, the LHS are always on the lookout for volunteers to maintain these stunning gardens.

This walled garden forms the centrepiece of the estate, surrounded by the upper and lower gardens. In the lower garden you will find the Dale Panorama – a place to stop and take in the breathtaking view across Windermere to the Langdale Pikes and the Lakeland fells beyond.



Brockhole today is described as an arts and crafts villa set on the shores of Windermere. The grounds are used for walkers, artists and those with a passion for watersports.

The stunning villa at Brockhole was built at the end of the 19th Century for a wealthy silk Merchant William Gaddum and his wife Edith. The current restaurant at Brockhole still bears the family name. Gaddum was also the cousin of Beatrix Potter.

There is lots to see and do at the Lake District National Park Visitor Centre and you can still view the gardens as Mawson intended.

Find out more about Brockhole

Holker Hall

Holker Hall

This grand stately home is still home to the Cavendish family. The hall and immaculately maintained gardens are open to the public and also home to various events such as Chilli Fest. The 23 acres of gardens comprise of a series of formal gardens set within a more informal landscape of interesting trees, shrubs and meadows. The spring is a time to view  tulips, daffodils, wallflowers and spring meadows, with Rhododendrons and Magnolias. In Summer the borders burst with colour and exciting tender plants, and wonderful summer flowering trees such as Styrax, Stewartia and Eucryphia. Autumn is just an explosion of colour throughout.

Find out more about Holker Hall

Rydal Hall

Rydal Hall

Mawson designed the formal garden at Rydal Hall in 1909. Today the wonderful gardens are still available to enjoy for guests staying at the hall which is listed and dates back to 1650.

Situated in the heart of the Lake District UNESCO World Heritage site, Rydal Hall estate has developed from the 1600s until the present day with formal gardens, woodlands, and iconic landmarks to explore.

The Quiet Garden is a secluded area of woodland, with ponds and paths leading to Rydal Beck, a place for peace and reflection.

The gardens and estate are open daily throughout the year. Entry is free, although donations towards garden maintenance and development are greatly appreciated.

Find out more about Rydal Hall

Barrow Park

Barrow Park

Barrow Park is a 45 acre peaceful haven in the middle of the town of Barrow-in-Furness. Designed by Mawson in 1908 the park has continued to expand over the years and alongside the gardens is home to a miniature railway, boating lake, glasshouses and a bandstand.The park is free to enter and is open all year round.

Thomas Mawson was a prolific garden designer and his work remains influential today. He died in 1933 and is buried in Bowness-on-Windermere.




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