Middleton Hall Parkland
A visit to Middleton Hall and its parkland was an immersive experience, designed to impress as well as provide enjoyment for Sir William Paxton’s guests. It’s design, most probably by Samuel Lapidge, was at the cutting edge of the late 18th century creation of landscapes as art, combining the gentle rolling hills and placid waters of a Romantic landscape with the awe inspiring power of nature in the Picturesque style. Designed to be explored along a series of sinous paths and carriage drives, the landscape was made up from a sequence of views and vistas deliberately hidden and then dramatically revealed as visitors passed through it. At every turn a new sight or sound would assault the senses of Paxton’s guests, from the roar and crash of thundering waterfall to the peace and serenity of a wooded glade “as if made by faeries”.
Dominated first by his mansion which burnt down in 1931, and then later by the tower which was a tribute to Nelson and came to carry his name, Paxton’s landscape has most recently been re-purposed through the creation of the National Botanic Garden of Wales. Taking the place of the mansion, Sir Norman Foster’s Great Glasshouse has now become the focus not only of the modern 21st century Garden but also Paxton’s Regency landscape.
We are just starting the restoration process which will bring back the lakes, waterfalls and cascades, historic routes, bridges and parkland trees, re-instating and re-focussing all of the 568 acres of this remarkable historic landscape for the enjoyment of its visitors.