RIVINGTON. Sunlight And Old Stones.

High on the sometimes bleak West Pennine Moors in between the Lancashire towns of Horwich and Chorley there’s a hilltop rich in trees, with here and there the remains of buildings showing through. These are the Terraced Gardens, the creation of local businessman William Lever, later 1st Viscount Leverhulme. I’ve been visiting the gardens since my childhood and have seen the ebb and flow of their condition over time. The gardens were an extravagant mix of pathways and follies, the designer was Thomas Mawson. From the top of the gardens there are views right across the plain of Lancashire to the coast.

Leverhulme created the gardens at the turn of the 1900’s, he was familiar with the area from his courting days and the gardens were heavily influenced by his travels. He made his fortune by building on his family’s grocery business, creating the very successful Sunlight Soap brand along the way. His main home was on the Wirral at Thornton Hough, the Wirral is also the location of the garden village of Port Sunlight which he built to house the workers from the adjacent factory. The fascinating Lady Lever Galley which houses some of the art collection built up by him and his wife and opened in her memory can also be found in Port Sunlight.

After Lord Leverhulme’s death in 1925 the estate was sold on to the owner of a local brewery and on his death the estate was bought by Liverpool Corporation who already owned much of the land in the area and had created a series of reservoirs to supply the city. The main house and the estates’ gatehouses were demolished in 1947 and the long period of decline began. Now in the hands of the water company United Utilities a program consolidation and restoration work is underway.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Seven Arch Bridge.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The Seven Arch Bridge across the old road from Chorley into Horwich.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Seven Arch Bridge Steps.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The steps leading down from the summer house to the Seven Arch Bridge over the old Chorley – Horwich road. Due to the steep slopes visible in this shot the gardens were laid out in a series of terraces.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The Pigeon Tower.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. One of the most striking and visible features of the gardens is The Pigeon Tower seen from the boating pool. The tower was built to take advatage of the views from the highest point of the gardens. The top floor was used as a sitting & sewing room by Lady Leverhulme. as can be seen from the photo consolidation and restoration is work taking place throughout the gardens.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The Swimming Pool Restorati

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The the boating pool beneath the Pigeon Tower undergoing restoration. Viscount Leverhulme being a great believer in the benefits of fresh air and exercise would occaisionally swim in the pool. Again the restoration work in progress can been seen with the new lining to the pool and the clearing away of overgrown vegetation.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Bungalow Ruins.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. Lord Leverhulme’s house at Rivington was a bungalow by the name of Roynton Cottage. This tiled flooring is all that now remains of the building. Roynton Cottage replaced an earlier, wooden cottage which was burnt down in 1913 by Edith Rigby as a Sufferagette protest. The curve of the tiles runs along the edge of what had been the cicular ballroom, the ceiling of which was dark blue and decorated with gold stars representing the constellations on the night of Lord Leverhulme’s birth, 19th September, 1851.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Ruined Shelter.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The ruins of a garden shelter on the level below the site of the bungalow.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Double Staircase.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. the double staircase which leads up from the boating pool to the site of the bungalow Roynton Cottage.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. Gardeners Cottages.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. Gardeners Cottages above the Japanese Pool.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  The Dell & Blue Pool Bridg

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. Looking down the course of the waterfalls in the dell towards the footbridge.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS.  Caves Above The Dell.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The man made caves alos known as The Bear Caves, on the path above the Dell.

11/11/18 RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The Japanese Pool.

RIVINGTON TERRACED GARDENS. The Japanese Pool. Inspired by the Willow Pattern design in its heyday the pool as surrounded with tea houses lit by lanterns and was fed by waterfalls and cascades from the upper levels of the gardens.













A favourite photo location of mine is the small village of Rivington on the West Pennine Moors a little to the north of Bolton, Lancashire. Rivington nestles in the shadow of the moors and is the location of a set of terraced gardens built by the owner of the Sunlight Soap Co, Bolton born business man William Lever, later Viscount Leverhulme. In the early 1900’s Lord Leverhulme purchased an estate on the moors above the village and set about building himself a weekend retreat, his main home being Thornton Manor on the Wirral, near his factory and purpose built workers’ village at Port Sunlight.  One of the features to be constructed was a folly based on the demolished Liverpool Castle, an exterior view headlines this post.


Courtyard Of The Castle Folly

The folly sits on the shore of one of the reservoirs which were built in the 1920’s by Liverpool Corporation to help feed that city’s ever growing demand for fresh drinking water.   

The first house built was a forerunner of the modular design of house, built off site and assembled at the final location. It was a large wooden structure known as ‘Roynton Cottage’, which fell victim to Suffragette protests, being burnt down  in 1913.  It’s replacement was a more substantial building of stone. An elegant feature of this second cottage as a circular ballroom with a domes ceiling which was decorated with a representation of the constellations as they were at the time of Leverhulme birth in 1851. 


Rivington Terraced Gardens. The Orchestra Steps.

Around the cottage the bare moorland was transformed into a sequence of terraces, the better to cope with the steeply sloping land. The flight of steps above lead down from the site of the cottage to a large lawn area, they gained their name as they were bands and orchestras played from when Lord Leverhulme hosted functions. With a little bit of searching the location of the ballroom can still be found on the area at the top of the steps and a small patch of the original tiling in one of the vestibules can still be seen. 

240411 RIVINGTON Curved steps up B&W

The Steps Down From The Bungalow.

  The Terrace Gardens features many pathways and the ruins of the shelters and summer houses that formed the original design. After the death of Lord Leverhulme in 1925 the estate was put up for sale, and after the death of the second owner, John Magee a brewery owner the houses and lodges were demolished and the house contents sold off. There were strong local protests about the demolition but they were defeated by local bureaucratic ineptitude so demolition commence in 1939.

13/01/13 RIVINGTON. The Cascade & Bridge.

LANCASHIRE. Rivington. Footbridge over the Cascade Waterfall in the Terraced Gardens.

Despite the loss of the house and lodges and the many years of neglect much remains to be seen of the gardens and they reward the year round visitor with a constantly changing mix of views. 


Rivington. Terraced Gardens Archway and Steps In The Snow.

Needless to say the area is very popular with many outdoor pursuit enthusiasts and at weekends the Top Barn, a cafe and bar next to Rivington Hall  and open at weekends is a very popular meeting place for the biker community, the twisting lanes across the nearby moors providing challenging routes for the riders. 


Bikers On The Driveway To The Top Barn



The Top Barn. Bikes And Bikers in The Sun.

So Rivington this is why Rivington is a favourite photography location, it offers me an all year round mix of history, architecture, wildlife and candid photographic opportunities. I’ll probably make time to get up there again in the next few days.

Terraced Gardens Information