A deer park of the early C18 but probably with earlier origins and gardens of C19 date with C17 origins.
The site has been occupied since the early medieval period when a defensive structure was situated at the highest point of the park. There is a plan of 1614 showing a house with formal gardens on the east and west sides (CL 1982) but the present building dates from the early C18, when the estate was owned by Daniel Wilson. Estate maps were made in 1733, possibly to mark the completion of the house, and in 1799. The house and park are in private ownership (1997).
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Dallam Tower is situated on the south-west side of the village of Milnthorpe and the c 75ha site slopes down to the River Bela which runs along the north-east and east sides of the site. The north side of the site overlooks the estuary of the River Kent at the point at which it is joined by the Bela. The setting is predominantly rural and agricultural with Milnthorpe to the north-east and the village of Beetham c 0.5km to the south-east. The boundary is formed by a stone wall running alongside Beetham Road on the south-east side; to the north of this the boundary is marked by a fence along the banks of the Bela. The northern boundary is marked by a wall along the side of the B6385 running between a footbridge over the Bela at the west end of Park Road in Milnthorpe, to Milnthorpe Bridge (listed grade II), so that the curve of the river is within the park. The southern boundary of the park on the 1733 map ran from a point c 300m north of South Lodge to the deer shelter (see below) from which point it turned north-eastwards to the banks of the Bela. This line appears to be preserved in a line of mature trees running across the park. In 1799 the boundary line was in the same place, but the current boundary, which appears on Greenwood's county map of 1824 and subsequently the OS 1st edition surveyed 1857, runs from the south entrance eastwards to the Bela in the form of a sunken fence with a stone wall on the inner (northern) face. A mixture of walls and fencing mark the boundaries not aforementioned.
The 1733 map shows the boundary of the deer park as a pale on the west side with a bow opposite the main entrance to the Tower and a gated entrance to the park north of this. The remaining boundary, which did not extend as far as the riverbank on the north side, is shown as walls apart from a curve of the river on the east side which had a pale along its edge.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
There are two entrances, both with stone-built lodges. On the north-west side a drive leads south from the B6385, which originated as a turnpike in 1813, past North Lodge, through a gateway with stone gate piers. It runs southwards to the Tower and continues south of the Tower as an avenue to South Lodge which is on a minor road between Beetham and the B6385. The part of the drive south of the Tower is on the line of a drive shown on the 1733 map. North Lodge is shown on the 1857 OS map but South Lodge is not; it does however appear on the OS map of 1920 and appears to be a building of mid to late C19 date similar to North Lodge, suggesting that the latter may have been rebuilt. The main entrance during the C18, shown on the estate maps of 1733 and 1799, was from a bridge over the Bela off Park Road at the west end of Milnthorpe, which led to drives running south-west to the Tower and south across the park. The bridge is now a footbridge and the drives survive as footpaths.
Dallam Tower (listed grade I) is dated 1722 on the rainwater heads and is shown in a drawing on the 1733 estate map. It was extended and a portico added to the main entrance in 1826. Attached to the north-west side is a stable block with a courtyard of early C19 date which is shown on the same site but in a different form on the 1733 map. On the 1799 map it occupies a similar footprint to that of today. Attached on the south side of the Tower is a service range, including a former brewhouse (listed grade II), on the site of buildings shown on the 1799 map.
GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS
The gardens and pleasure grounds are on the west side of the Tower. The east front of the Tower has a grassed terrace sloping gently down to the main drive where a formal walled forecourt is shown on the 1733 map, but not on that of 1799. The present arrangement, with a loop from the drive leading to the main entrance, is much as shown on the 1799 map.
The gardens consist of an irregular, sub-triangular area on the west side of the screen formed by the Tower and attached service buildings, bounded by ornamental woodland on the west and north sides. The extent and basic form of garden and woodland conforms broadly with what is shown on the 1733 and 1799 maps. A terrace with a walkway runs from south to north along the west front of the Tower and turns to run westwards at the angle formed by the Tower and stable block at the north end of the garden, continuing as a slightly curved terraced walk for a distance of c 80m where the land drops away at the edge of woodland. The terraced walks overlook a sunken lawn which is reached from two grassed ramps aligned with entrances to the Tower. The western edge of the lawn is fringed with mature ornamental trees which were probably planted in the later C19 and beyond this the land rises sharply. A walk cut into the slope runs through this planted bank along the western edge of the garden.
Attached to the south side of the stable block is a conservatory (listed grade I) of early C19 date, attributed to George Webster of Kendal. It has curving roofs and is glazed with vertical cast-iron glazing bars and overlapping glass panes between cast-iron uprights decorated with rosettes. The position of the walkways conforms with paths shown on both the 1733 and 1799 maps. That running west from the conservatory is shown as an avenue of pines, with the same curved shape to the walk shown on the 1733 map visible today. At that time there was a curved wall alongside the avenue.
Some 60m north-west of the Tower, west of the stable block, there is an earthen mound concealing a cover for C20 drainage systems.
The circular base of a fountain which is shown on the 1857 OS map is situated in a sunken lawn c 30m south-west of the Tower. In the extreme south-east corner of the sunken lawn, c 60m from the Tower, there is an area called the Japanese Garden which consists of rockwork and a pool planted with dwarf conifers and Japanese maples. Rustic steps lead down from the terrace and the pool is fed by a stream which runs in a series of steps through ornamental rockwork and planting along the slopes south-west of the lawn. This area was laid out by Lady Bromley-Wilson in 1930.
The south and south-west sides of the garden are fringed by specimen trees including conifers and pines which were probably planted in the late C19 and early C20. A path leads south through this area and continues up a slope to a linear earthwork (possibly the line of a former boundary) which runs north/south for a distance of c 20m; near the top of the slope, c 100m south of the Tower, the path cuts through this feature and continues to the kitchen garden.
On the north-west and west sides of the garden is Crow Wood which conforms broadly to a wooded area shown on the 1733 map. Overgrown paths lead through the north-west part of the wood to an icehouse (listed grade II), c 200m north-west of the Tower. This is a well-preserved stone structure lined with bricks, probably of C19 date, though it is not shown on any OS maps.
North of the stable block is an area planted with shrubs. A curving ha-ha surmounted by cast-iron railings runs from a point at the north-eastern corner of the stable block westwards along the edge of the garden and Crow Wood, separating the area from the parkland. This appears to be on the line of a tree-lined drive or road shown on the 1733 map.
Parkland extends on the north, east and south sides of the Tower and gardens. To the north a curve of the River Bela is included within the park, the area having been imparked between the time of the 1857 and 1920 OS maps. Another curving stretch of the river is included within the park on the south-east side of the site, and this is shown on the 1733 map. The rolling land rises to a high point c 500m south-east of the Tower where there is a circular earthwork, the remains of a medieval fortification (SM CU149), from which extensive views can be obtained in all directions. An eyecatcher called St Anthony's Tower is visible on top of a hill beyond Milnthorpe, c 1.5km to the north-east. To the north-west there are views of the Kent estuary. Both the C18 maps show the earthwork planted with trees and plantations along the banks of the Bela; these survive in fragmentary form, particularly in the area immediately east of the earthwork which is shown as a rectangular plantation on the 1733 map. The park is planted with scattered trees including some large mature specimens. Some 600m south-east of the Tower there is a deer shelter called the Buck House which is shown on the 1799 map but not that of 1733.
The park is used for pasture and supports a herd of fallow deer.
The walled kitchen garden is situated c 200m south-west of the Tower, on the west side of a track which leads north from the main drive to the former home farm. It is entered from a path leading south from the garden where there is a doorcase (listed grade II), dated 1685, brought here in the late C19 or early C20 from Nether Levens Hall. This is flanked by yews and approached through a cast-iron canopy designed to prevent the yew branches hanging down in front of the entrance. A doorway in the northern wall provides a second entrance. The garden has a wall with an outer face of stone and an inner face of brick on the east side, and a wall to the north which has areas of scribed stucco, brick and stone. A gardener's house and sheds are built against the outer face of this wall and two glasshouses survive against the inner face. The western side of the garden is formed by a natural limestone cliff, and partial remains of a wall survive on the south side.
Another walled garden is shown on early editions of the OS map on the north side of the present garden but only the footings of beds and glasshouses now (1997) survive.
Walled gardens and orchards are shown on the 1799 map on the east side of the main drive c 250m south of the Tower.
N Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Cumberland and Westmorland (1967), pp 277-8
Country Life, 172 (18 November 1983), pp 1578-9
William Tomlinson, A Map of Dallam Tower Demesne and Beetham Parsonage in the County of Westmorland Belonging to Daniel Wilson Esq. Surveyed in the Month of November Anno Dom: 1733
T Jeffreys, The County of Westmorland, 1770
J Todd, A Map of Dallam Tower in Westmorland Belonging to Dl Wilson Esq. surveyed Anno 1799
C & J Greenwood, Map of the County of Westmorland, 1824
OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1857
2nd edition published 1920
OS 25" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1857-60
Description written: July 1997
Register Inspector: CEH
Edited: March 1999