Belvoir Castle

Overview

Heritage Category:
Park and Garden
Grade:
II*
List Entry Number:
1000957
Date first listed:
05-Mar-1986
Date of most recent amendment:
31-Jan-2020
Statutory Address:
Belvoir, Grantham, Leicestershire, NG32 1PE

Map

Ordnance survey map of Belvoir Castle
© Crown Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2020. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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Location

Statutory Address:
Belvoir, Grantham, Leicestershire, NG32 1PE

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County:
Leicestershire
District:
Melton (District Authority)
Parish:
Belvoir
County:
Leicestershire
District:
Melton (District Authority)
Parish:
Croxton Kerrial
County:
Leicestershire
District:
Melton (District Authority)
Parish:
Redmile
County:
Lincolnshire
District:
South Kesteven (District Authority)
Parish:
Woolsthorpe By Belvoir
National Grid Reference:
SK8247232173

Summary

Extensive landscape park and various gardens, mostly early C19 but incorporating late C17 elements, largely laid out to a plan of 1780 by Capablility Brown, and associated with a spectacular, early-C19 hilltop castle. Reservoir to south of parkland, constructed between 1794 and 1797 as a floodwater reservoir for the Grantham Canal.

Reasons for Designation

The designed landscape at Belvoir Castle is registered at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

Historic interest:

* it is a multi-layered designed landscape of great time-depth, having evolved over almost a thousand years since the first Norman castle was established, shaped particularly by the 5th and 8th Duchesses;

* it is one of the latest designs by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown (1716-83), the pre-eminent English landscape designer of the mid to late C18 who had a profound influence on the parks and gardens surrounding many country houses;

* after Brown’s death, his plans and folio album continued to be used when alterations and improvements were initiated at the Castle and on the estate, altogether shaping the land and views in accordance with the ideals of the landscape park;

* it is associated with some of the most accomplished landscape and garden designers, architects and engineers from the C18 to the C20;

* the noted canal engineer William Jessop, who is associated with more than 120 listed canal and waterwork structures, is connected with the design and construction of Knipton Reservoir, an impressive feat of engineering for its day that was the first instance of a floodwater reservoir serving a canal;

* the Rose Garden is a very fine example of the work of Harold Peto, one of the most accomplished garden designers of the Edwardian period who is associated with eighteen buildings on the List, and sixteen gardens on the Register, many of which are highly graded. The recent discovery of his plan shows how well the original design has survived.

Group value:

* it is a vast and impressive designed landscape laid out around Wyatt’s spectacular Grade I-listed hill-top castle and ornamented by finely-wrought buildings, the majority of which are listed, some at high grades.

History

The name Belvoir (‘beautiful view’), dates back to Norman times, when Robert de Todeni (William the Conqueror’s Standard Bearer at the Battle of Hastings), built a castle on the site of the current Belvoir Castle, and founded a priory at the foot of the mound. Belvoir passed to the Ros family in 1247, when the heiress of the last Albini married Robert de Ros. In 1267, Robert de Ros raised a new embattled wall for the castle, and a surviving C13 seal shows Belvoir Castle as a quadrangular keep. During the War of the Roses, Thomas, Lord Ros, a Lancastrian supporter, was executed in 1464, having already been attainted and his lands forfeited. Belvoir was granted to William, Lord Hastings, but Ros’s friends disputed this with force, and the Castle was left ruinous.

Belvoir was restored to the Ros family on the accession of Henry VII, and subsequently passed to the Manners family on the marriage of Eleanor, sister and heiress of Edmund Lord Ros, to Sir Robert Manners. It was not, however, until the time of Sir Robert’s grandson, Thomas, 1st Earl of Rutland, that the rebuilding of the Castle began. The work commenced soon after 1523 on a grand scale, and was completed in 1555 by the 2nd Earl. The 5th Earl was implicated in Essex’s plot against Queen Elizabeth I in the closing years of her reign, and was imprisoned in the Tower, but was released, and his lands restored to him on the accession of James I. The 5th Earl entertained the monarch at Belvoir on his journey from Scotland to London, and so satisfied was the King with his reception that on the morning of his departure, he created 46 knights. In 1645, during the Civil War, Belvoir was besieged for four months before the Royalist garrison surrendered. In 1649, demolition of the Castle was ordered by Cromwell’s parliament, with the reluctant consent of the 8th Earl of Rutland.

From 1654, reconstruction work began at Belvoir under the direction of John Webb, a pupil of Inigo Jones, who after Jones’ death became one of the country’s leading architects, and the rebuilding and laying out of the grounds were completed by 1668. The 9th Earl of Rutland was created Marquis of Granby and Duke of Rutland in 1703, and the surviving stable block and associated outbuildings are believed to date from around 1705. His grandson, the 3rd Duke, made some improvements to the Castle in the early C18, adding the picture room and cellars, and the Wilderness garden around 1730. Panoramic views of Belvoir Castle by Thomas Badeslade, in Vitruvius Britannicus, and by Jan Griffier the Younger, in 1730, 1731 and 1744 respectively, illustrate with detail the contemporary form of the castle, landscaping, and a hunting scene in full cry. Each of these perspective views shows the Spiral Walk on the slopes on the Castle, adorned with seven figurative statues by Caius Gabriel Cibber, which were commissioned by the 1st Duke in 1680 at a cost of £35. Despite these impressive depictions in the second quarter of the C18, the travel writer Arthur Young quipped in 1776: ‘The house is now almost entirely unfurnished and the gardens neglected, so that it looks more like the habitation of one in distress than the seat of one of our most opulent nobles.’

Grand-scale alterations were evidently contemplated during the time of the 4th Duke, for in 1780, the famous landscape designer Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown prepared plans for Belvoir Castle, following work by Brown’s surveyor Jonathan Spyers in 1779, who recorded an estate of 3,928 acres. For his advice on improvements to the castle and estate, Brown charged a total of £516.8s, which was paid to his executors after his death in 1783. In the private archives of the Belvoir estate, Spyers’ survey, Brown’s rolled up plan, and a leather-bound, gold-embossed folio album, also produced in 1780, have recently been discovered. The folio contains a miniature version of the plan of the grounds in watercolour and ten architectural elevations, showing how Brown envisioned alterations for the entire estate.

Brown's plan for the Belvoir landscape included the creation of lakes, new woods, tree clumps and belts, an extensive walled garden, and major earth works, such as removing the bowling green from Castle Hill and using the earth to build an embankment linking it to Blackberry Hill. He also proposed major architectural alterations to Belvoir Castle and its various offices including Gothic castellation of the castle, the addition of an entire new attic storey and a service tunnel, new woodland ridings, and new approach roads with lodges, including one from Harston to cross his proposed lakes from the south-east, and Croxton Avenue to skirt around the south-west of the parkland from Knipton. Rather than moving the nearby village of Woolsthorpe to improve the view, he incorporated it into his plan, partly screened by trees. Brown proposed a ha-ha or retaining wall below the north-east terrace and new pleasure gardens but wished to retain the existing formal gardens, the canal and the Wilderness which he planned to turn into a collection of parkland clumps. He also planned to create a ‘chase’ – open land for hunting – and to reinstate Belvoir’s free warren, for hunting with hawks, to reflect Belvoir’s medieval past. Long after Brown’s demise in 1783, the plan and folio album continued to be used when alterations and improvements were initiated at the Castle and on the estate.

However, the 4th Duke had inherited large debts, made worse by his passions for art, gambling, women and entertaining. Such was the Duke’s vast debt that Horace Walpole remarked in a letter to Lady Ossory: ‘Mr Brown has shown his designs for improving Belvoir Castle. They show judgement and would be magnificent. I asked where the funds were to arise for I hear the Duke’s exchequer is extremely empty.’ The Duke’s lawyer and agent, Joseph Hill, took charge of the Belvoir estate and the Duke’s vast debts, and implemented an emergency plan, including the employment of the Duke as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in Dublin, and the sale of timber from the Belvoir woodlands.

Tree planting started immediately after Brown’s last visit to Belvoir in October 1782. Thomas Thoroton commented that the introduction of the oaks at the bottom of the north-east terrace above the retaining wall, opposite the stables, was ‘exactly conformable to Mr Brown’s Plan’. Acorns were scattered on Woolsthorpe Hill between 1785 and 1787, and plantations at Croxton Bank and Cedar Hill were planted in 1789. Whilst these latter plantations are beyond the registered area, they are visible in the wider landscape, indicating the proximity of a country seat. By the turn of the C19, most of the perimeter belts of trees and some woodland had been planted. The 4th Duke died in 1787, and since the Duke’s eldest son and heir was only nine, the 4th Duchess and her brother, the Duke of Beaufort, took over the estate as joint trustees. Working with Brown’s plan, the Duke of Beaufort ordered an avenue from the old church in Woolsthorpe to be planted in 1792. By the time the 5th Duke came of age in 1799, his father’s debts were largely repaid and the family fortunes improved.

William King, agent of the 4th and 5th Dukes played an important role in generating funds for the Belvoir Estate in the late C18 and early C19, including the construction of the Grantham Canal through the estate between 1793 and 1799. William Jessop, a noted canal engineer was consulted on the engineering works, and wrote his ‘Observations on the Use of Reservoirs for Flood Water’ in 1792, leading to the passing of the Grantham to Trent Act in 1793. This act authorised the construction of the Grantham Canal under the charge of Jessop, with resident engineers James Green, responsible for the section from the Trent to the Leicestershire border, and William King supervising the section from the Leicestershire border to Grantham (including reservoirs at Knipton and Denton). The canal, which opened to traffic in 1797, is believed to be the first canal in England predominantly supplied by reservoirs, and the first industrial scheme initially designed to rely on floodwater reservoirs.

Knipton Reservoir was begun in 1794, and the Parish of Knipton Enclosure Act (1797) took all wasteland and common land at Knipton within the property of the Duke of Rutland. The reservoir, the first sizable lake to be constructed at Belvoir, appropriated the natural topography of Knipton Vale and floodwaters of the River Devon, and was fed from Knipton Reservoir to the canal through the estates of the Duke of Rutland via open and underground brick culverts. It is possible that a reservoir may have been discussed with Brown, and in a letter between Hill and the 4th Duke in 1787, Hill suggests that the valley at Knipton could supply ‘your Graces River & Lake with any Quantity of Water - I should be glad to see such a work well executed - for that Country seems to want such assistance, as well as Shade & Shelter - & a little Dress & Ornament’. An ornamental boat was brought from London in 1801, and the following year the thatched boathouse was built on the east bank of the reservoir. The water level of the reservoir was raised in 1804, a draw-off tunnel was constructed in 1944, and a secondary weir, bridge and spillway constructed in 1972. The Grantham Canal passed into railway ownership in 1854, and was formally abandoned in 1936 due to a decline in trade.

A large number of trees were planted at the reservoir in 1801, including 5000 spruce, 1000 larch, 1000 alders and 1000 birch, and it is recorded that a woodman’s cottage stood at the reservoir in 1819. The reservoir was stocked with fish in 1801, and Reservoir Cottage was constructed 150m east of the reservoir in 1806 as a fishing lodge (possibly to the designs of Sir Revd John Thoroton), and was extended in 1823 and in the mid-C20. In 1802-1804, Croxton Avenue, the private carriage drive linking the two family estates of Belvoir to the north and Croxton Park to the south, was laid out along the embankment of the reservoir. This dramatic approach route was chosen for the arrival of the Dowager Queen Adelaide to Belvoir in 1839, and she was later accompanied on the same route by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1843.

When the young Lady Elizabeth Howard arrived at Belvoir in 1799 from her home, Castle Howard in Yorkshire, to marry the young 5th Duke of Rutland, she set about revitalising the castle and gardens from 1801. She was incredibly ambitious and industrious during her 26 years at Belvoir until her death in 1825. The current Belvoir Castle, listed Grade I, dates from 1801-30, and is mostly by James Wyatt, fresh from working on Windsor Castle. The new chapel and the south-west elevation of the castle were chiefly designed by Frederick Trench, and based on Brown’s designs of 1782. Perspective views of the castle by Thomas Wright and J M W Turner in 1814 and 1816 respectively, capture the picturesque qualities of the castle and its extreme topography. A catastrophic fire in 1816 saw the destruction of the north-east and north-west fronts, grand staircase, and picture gallery, including some thirty paintings by such famous artists as Reynolds, Titian and Van Dyck. Reconstruction work was led by the Rev Sir John Thoroton, Rector of Bottesford, domestic chaplain to the Duke and close friend of the Duchess.

The influence of the 5th Duchess also extended to the grounds and she used Brown’s plan as a template for further estate improvements. In relocating five statues by Cibber from the Broad Walk below the slope west of the castle, she established the Ladies’ Garden (now the Statue Garden) and developed the (pre-existing) two-mile circuitous Duke’s Walk with the Root and Moss House, flower garden (now known as the Duchess Garden) in a secluded clearing. Between 1801 and 1804, the earth was removed from the bowling green and an embankment constructed linking Castle Hill and Blackberry Hill. The construction of a model farm, designed by Wyatt, included a working dairy and an 8-acre kitchen garden. In 1821 work began on the 10.5 acre Devon Valley lakes which, though Brownian in character and inspiration, were positioned further south of Woolsthorpe than on his plan, and were a slightly different size. The Brewer’s Gate crossing, a five-arched bridge concealing a change of level between the two sheets of water – a typical Brownian device – was built in 1825. In the same year, the retaining wall was constructed below the north-east terrace, albeit on a tighter embrace to the Castle than on Brown’s plan.

During this time, the 5th Duke also oversaw the construction of new kennels within the parkland south-east of the Castle in 1802 (previously located at Croxton Park), the planting of Kennel Wood, and the establishment of Kennel Walk. In the year following the Duchess’s death, the ponds below the new plantation at Harston were dug out, however these greatly silted up. They have recently been re-dug and renamed the Memorial Lakes in 2015.

The 8th Duke came to Belvoir in 1906, and his wife Violet, an accomplished artist, set about enhancing the house and gardens. The 8th Duchess engaged the accomplished landscape architect Harold Peto (1854-1933) to redesign the Rose Garden in 1906, which was previously terraced by the Rev Sir John Thoroton in 1814. The original plan has recently been discovered in the private family archives. Peto’s garden features Cibber’s statue of Winter at its east end, with the remaining six statues by Cibber being relocated to the Statue Garden below the Rose Garden. The Rose Garden was populated with statuary, including a Corinthian column bought by the Duchess on a trip to Bologna in 1907, and a marble statue of a horse, that had been presented to the 5th Duke in 1851 by Admiral Thomas Cochrane.

Inspired by the discovery of Brown’s plan and the tercentenary of his birth in 2016, the current Duchess Emma has undertaken a restoration programme to reinstate features on Brown’s original plan. So far, this has included filling in the gap in the tree belt around the cemetery of St James’s Church, and opening up the view from Knipton Pasture into Frog Hollow. The woodland at Harston, south-east of the Castle near King’s Wood, proposed by Brown but never planted, has been established. The proposed Woolsthorpe Avenue, which was not implemented until the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, has now been completed.

Details

Extensive landscape park and various gardens, mostly early C19 but incorporating late C17 elements, largely laid out to a plan of 1780 by Capablility Brown, and associated with a spectacular, early-C19 hilltop castle. Reservoir to south of parkland, constructed between 1794 and 1797 as a floodwater reservoir for the Grantham Canal.

LOCATION, SETTING, LANDFORM, BOUNDARIES AND AREA

Belvoir Castle stands 8km west of Grantham, close to the meeting points of Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire, on an isolated hill on the south-east edge of the Vale of Belvoir over which it enjoys panoramic views. The current registered area measures around 900ha.

ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES

There are numerous approaches to the Castle. Most of them meet south-west of the Castle before a common drive approaches past the Rose Garden and the Battery, to enter the west side of the courtyard. The main private drive enters the grounds 300m north of the Castle, via a gate shared with the drive to the estate yard. It then curves around the north-west side of the Castle hill. Other approaches, through the park, are longer. From the east there is a 3.5km long drive from the Lodge, an ornate two-storey stone building of 1885, 1km east of Woolsthorpe. This curves along a plateau above Woolsthorpe, where the drive (here Foster's Avenue) is tree lined, with panoramic views towards the Castle and across the Vale of Belvoir beyond. The drive then drops, crossing the bridge between the two lakes, before running through Middlesdale towards the main approach to the Castle. A second drive, from the south-east, enters the park past an ornate mid-C19 lodge 600m north-east of Knipton village. This runs on a straight line roughly northwards, west of the Upper Lake and Belvoir Hunt Kennels, to join the Woolsthorpe drive 500m north-east of the bridge. A third approach is from the north-west, by a long straight avenue from Redmile.

PRINCIPAL BUILDING

A hilltop castle was established here, overlooking the Vale of Belvoir, in the late C11. Major rebuilding took place in the earlier C16, by John Webb (d 1672) between 1654 and 1668 after Civil War slighting, and in the early C19. After the 5th Duke came of age in 1801, James Wyatt (d 1813) was employed to rebuild Belvoir. In 1816, by when the south-west and south-east fronts were complete, a great fire destroyed the north-west and north-east fronts. Their reconstruction was directed by the Rev Sir John Thoroton (d 1820), rector of Bottesford and friend of, and domestic chaplain to, the 5th Duke. He was assisted by Elizabeth, Duchess of Rutland, who had been brought up at Castle Howard and was likewise an enthusiastic amateur architect. Before her death in 1825 the Duchess was also responsible for laying out new gardens and enhancing the Castle's setting, closely following Brown’s plan. The Castle (listed Grade I) is little changed since the early C19, a massive, quadrangular, hilltop feudal palace with a skyline of turrets and battlements. Its main feature is Thoroton's huge projecting tower on the centre of the north-east front, which echoes Wyatt's tower on the south-west side.

At the bottom of the slope, 200m north-east of the Castle, is a U-plan, two-storey ironstone stables block (listed Grade II*) of 1704-5 by John Barker (d 1727), now used as offices and for accommodation. Within its courtyard is an exercise ring (listed Grade II*) of around 1819, probably the earliest free-standing structure of its kind in England, and occupying an important position in the history of hunting. About 20m north-east of Barker's stables are others (listed Grade II) of the early C18, while 15m south of the former is a six-bay house (listed Grade II) of the early C18. Of similar date is Brewery Row (listed Grade II), a row of four houses 25m south-east of Barker's stables.

ORNAMENTAL GROUNDS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS

North-east of the Castle, descending the hillside to the stables complex, is a flight of three broad terraces. On the middle one is a swimming pool and hard tennis court. On the north-west side of the terraces is an icehouse (listed Grade II) of around 1830.

A broad walled terrace runs around the north and west sides of the Castle. From this there is access to the Battery, a 20m long bastion-like crenellated projection which projects south-west of the Castle to command the main approach from the south-west. Believed to represent the motte of the Norman castle, the Battery was remodelled as a promenade ground and is shown thus on Badeslade's views of 1731. The present Battery, which is considerably smaller, represents an early C19 remodelling.

The Battery overlooks a lawn leading to the Rose Garden with flagged paths and geometric beds, which occupies the sloping ground south-west of the Castle. It was laid out in around 1906 by Violet, wife of the 8th Duke, to the designs of Harold Peto. Yew hedges run around the north-west and north-east sides of the garden, along the top (north-east) of which, alongside a stone terrace wall, runs a curving terrace path with mature specimen trees. This path appears to be the broad walk along which Cibber's statues were placed, as shown in Badeslade's views of 1731. A statue of Winter (listed Grade II*) of around 1680 by Caius Gabriel Cibber (d 1700) stands at the head of an axial path which leads from the terrace path on a south-westerly line.

At the bottom of the axial path down the Rose Garden, 110m south-west of the Castle, is a stone bastion, which in the early C20 supported a rustic summerhouse. Beneath the bastion is a gothic-arched seat, which overlooks the Statue Garden. This, approached via an elaborately stone-balustraded path with urns and rockwork (all probably early C19) at its north-west corner, comprises six further life-size statues: Juno, Ceres, Flora, Bacchus, Pomona and Diana (all listed Grade II*) of around 1680 by Cibber, arranged in two curving rows down a steeply-sloping grass slope. Across the bottom of the slope is a terrace, at one end of which is a stone bench seat. The Statue Garden was among the early-C19 gardening works at Belvoir later altered in both the Edwardian era and more recently. In 1905 there was massed bedding in the Statue Garden.

From south-west of the Statue Garden a terrace path passes through ornamental woodland to the Duchess', or Spring, Garden, created around 1810 by the 5th Duchess of Rutland. This comprises walks around a natural south-facing amphitheatre-like embayment approximately 180m in diameter, well planted with mature specimen trees, shrubs and other plants. On the main grass terrace path around the north side of the garden is the Duchess' Seat, a splendid hexagonal root house (listed Grade II) of around 1810, with thatched roof, moss-filled walls, and rustic furniture. Half a mile beyond this is the grotto which was found c2015 and restored.

North-west of the Duchess' garden, and approximately 450m south-west of the Castle, is the family Mausoleum (listed Grade II), a limestone building of 1826-8 in the Romanesque style by Benjamin Dean Wyatt (d 1855) and Philip Wyatt (d 1835).

Like the Castle, the gardens were remodelled after the Civil War, and the results are shown in illustrations by Badeslade of 1731. Descending from Castle to stables is a flight of terraces, which survive in simplified form today. East of these, in the vicinity of the later walled kitchen garden, was an extensive geometric Wilderness or labyrinth, most likely created for the 3rd Duke after 1721. South of this, running around the eastern and southern slopes of the Castle mound, were concentric plantations, perhaps terraced. Cibber's statues can be seen spaced regularly along a broad walk around the bottom of the Battery. This scheme had been much simplified by 1744, and by the early C19 had been virtually obliterated.

A retaining wall, proposed by Brown, is situated below the north-east terrace and has a retaining wall of coursed rubble stone.

PARK

The medieval Belvoir park, created in 1306 and probably disparked in the 1460s, lay in Redmile, north-west of the later park. It is not known when the present park was created, although it is probable that it was during the period of post-Civil War reconstruction. There was certainly a deer park here by 1731. In 1779 Lancelot Brown (1716-83) was consulted on landscaping Belvoir and improving the Castle. Many of the improvements suggested in his detailed plans were executed over the following four decades, including the shelter belts and areas of woodland. As seen today the park is very much a product of the early-C19 landscaping and gardening at Belvoir.

Belvoir's park extends for approximately 2km east, west and south of the Castle. Around the hill on which the Castle stands, through the low ground of Middlesdale to its south, and around the sides of Blackberry Hill, again to the south, is woodland, largely of an ornamental character. The plateau on top of Blackberry Hill is open ground, and earlier in the C20 was used as a private golf course. An embankment, created 1801-1804 in accordance with Brown’s plan, links Blackberry Hill to Castle Hill. Frog Hollow pool lies in the valley between Blackberry Hill and the rising ground of Granby Wood to its south. In 1905 there was a bog garden here. South-west of this, along the edge of the park, extensive elder woods were planted in the 1990s, the flowers of which were gathered for a locally manufactured beverage. North-west of Castle and Blackberry Hills the park slopes down into the Vale of Belvoir. This land, West Wong, is arable land with some clumps of trees.

North-west of the estate yard, 300m north-east of the Castle, are two fishponds. One is 200m long, the other (named Westminster) 100m. Some 200m to the west, on the edge of the registered area, is the site of a medieval Benedictine priory. Until the Civil War, it is believed that there was a village here, sited between the priory and the estate yard 300m to the south-east.

Set against the bottom of the wooded slope of the Castle and 250m to its south is Dairy Cottage (listed Grade II), built to an 1813 design by James Wyatt, as an ornamental dairy. This has an octagonal, two-storey, central block with pavilions to either side. It looks down a grass paddock, on the east side of which, approximately 75m from the dairy, is a wooden, six-bay, thatched cowhouse (now used for timber seasoning), probably contemporary with the dairy. The pasture looks towards Lower Lake, the more northerly of two sheets of water on the River Devon created in 1821 and inspired by the lake shown on Brown’s plan. Each lake is 500m long and separated by a five-arched stone bridge built in 1825 (listed Grade II).

On the west bank of Upper Lake, 100m south-west of the bridge, are the Kennels (listed Grade II) of the Belvoir Hunt, founded in 1740 and always among the country's most prestigious. Four-sided with turrets to the corners, the complex was designed in 1802 to accommodate four packs of hounds. South-west of the kennels is Knipton Pasture, a 1km long tract of level ground, now arable. To the east of Upper Lake is the Devon, steeply-rising permanent pasture which is well studded with mature specimen trees. To the south-east of Lower Lake, near the trout pond, is a cricket pavilion. To the east of Lower Lake, the ground is crossed by the beech-lined drive from Woolsthorpe and climbs slightly less steeply, and there are large numbers of mature trees. As the drive reaches the top of the slope, 200m south-east of Woolsthorpe church, it passes an irregular area of wooded ground, Holywell Wood, within which are springs and a Holy Well. To the east of Holywell Wood the park is permanent pasture. The area to the north of the park, between the walled garden to the west and Woolsthorpe to the east, is a mixture of permanent pasture and arable land. It is bounded to the north by the tree-lined Woolsthorpe Road.

KITCHEN GARDEN

At the bottom of the wooded slopes of the hill below the Castle is an ornate, brick-walled kitchen garden (listed Grade II) established in 1816, aligned on a north-south axis, and measuring 220m long by 120m wide. The northernmost quarter is divided off by a wall, broken in the centre to allow an axial view down the garden from the mid-C19 gothic Garden House (listed Grade II) situated 50m north of the walled garden. This looks through to a highly ornate iron-gated entrance, with ornate limestone detailing to the arched surround in the centre of the south side. Similar gates lie on the east and west sides of the northern compartment. Other entrances are pedimented, and these alternate with octagonal columns topped with decoratively carved limestone ogee capitals. Some gardening still went on in the northern compartment in 1998; the main garden area was grazed, and lines of young trees ran down the centre. Along the north wall is a full range of brick sheds with lancet doors and windows. Various glasshouses and other structures, some of C19 date, stand outside the north-east corner of the garden.

KNIPTON RESERVOIR

Knipton Reservoir is located approximately 3km south of Belvoir Castle, between the villages of Knipton and Branston. The reservoir measures approximately 220m x 1200m, running 650m on a north-south axis, before curving west for 550m. The surface area of the waterworks measures approximately 200,000 sq m (49.4 acres), and has a capacity of 543,000 sq m and depth of 7.1m. The reservoir is fed from a stream off the River Devon at the south-west corner, and the water falls to the north-east corner to two spillways. The original spillway (constructed around 1795) comprises a 15m-long convex masonry weir, which discharges onto a gently falling, tapered apron to pass beneath the dam crest via a three-arch, masonry bridge. Downstream of the bridge there is a 3.5m-wide stepped concrete channel which continues to a stilling basin. Approximately 15m south of the original spillway, an 18m-long convex overflow weir, reinforced concrete bridge and spillway were constructed in 1972, and discharge downstream to merge with the original spillway via a drop structure. To the south of the 1972 bridge, an earthen embankment extends approximately 210m along the north-east bank of the reservoir, forming part of Croxton Avenue. It is understood that the embankment was constructed of clay in 1799, and reaches a maximum height of approximately 12m. Around 70m south of the 1972 bridge, an outlet pipe passes under the embankment, and discharges via a concrete flume and brick tunnel (constructed in 1944) to enter the carrier channel, which was the original feed from the reservoir to the Grantham Canal, through the Duke’s estate via open and brick-vaulted culverts. Downstream of the reservoir the River Devon passes along the west side of Knipton and then enters Belvoir Upper Lake and Lower Lake after about 2km.

On the east bank of the reservoir, a timber-framed boathouse, built in 1802, stands on a stone plinth, with a thatched roof (not listed). Overlooking the reservoir at the crest of the east bank, stands Reservoir Cottage, built in 1806 as a fishing lodge, and extended in 1823 and the mid-C20 (not listed). North-east of the cottage, the thatched roof of an ornamental oast house remains visible from the reservoir (not listed). It is probable that Reservoir Cottage, the thatched oast house and boat house were designed to form part of the views along the east bank of the reservoir. From the steeply-sloped east bank, plantations control Picturesque views south-west over the reservoir, towards the steeples of the Church of St Guthlac at Branston and St Denys at Eaton (approximately 1.5km and 2.5km distant respectively), and conceal views of the dam to the north-west.

Croxton Avenue, based on Brown’s suggested private drive to the Castle, runs along the east bank of the reservoir, and from the early C19 formed an important route between the Duke’s estates at Croxton Park in the south and Belvoir Castle to the north (both approximately 3km from the reservoir). From the north-east corner of the reservoir to Belvoir Castle, this takes the form of a tree-lined avenue (now overgrown and with a variety of species). There are a number of plantations surrounding the reservoir, most likely planted in the early C19 to frame views and control game, including Boathouse Wood (east), Reservoir Wood (west) and Bunkers Wood (north-west). These woods have been replanted over time, but some mature trees do survive.

Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
1955
Legacy System:
Parks and Gardens

Sources

Books and journals
Badeslade, T, Rocque, J, Vitruvius Britannicus: Vol. IV, (1739)
Phibbs, J L, Place-making: The art of Capability Brown, (2017)
Rutland, Duchess of, Pruden, Jane, Capability Brown and Belvoir: Discovering a Lost Landscape, (2016)
Rutland, Duke of, Belvoir Castle: The Leicestershire Home of the Dukes of Rutland, (1976)
Shields, Steffie, Moving Heaven and Earth, Capability Brown's Gift of Landscape, (2016)
Stroud, D, Capability Brown, (1975)
Symes, M, Garden Sculpture, (1996)
Websites
Capability Brown, ‘Belvoir Castle’, accessed 8 August 2017 from http://www.capabilitybrown.org/garden/belvoir-castle
Institution of Civil Engineers, ‘Panel for Historical Engineering: Knipton Dam’ , accessed 8 August 2017 from https://www.ice.org.uk/knowledge-and-resources/ice-library-and-digital-resources/historical-engineering-works/details?hewID=690
Redmile Archive, ‘William King: Engineer on the Grantham Canal’ http://www.redmilearchive.freeuk.com/king.html, accessed 8 August 2017 from http://www.redmilearchive.freeuk.com/king.html
Other
'Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire', Country Life, Vol 120, (13 December 1956), 1402-5
'Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire', Country Life, Vol 120, (6 December 1956), 1284-90
'Belvoir Castle, Lincolnshire', Country Life, Vol 4, (27 August 1898), 240-3
'Belvoir Castle, Lincolnshire', Country Life, Vol 4, (3 September 1898), 272-5
Bradbeer, Serena, ‘A Historical Survey of Belvoir Park and Garden’, August 2019
British Waterways Board, ‘Knipton Reservoir: Report on an Inspection on 18 August 1982’
Canal & Rivers Trust, ‘Knipton Reservoir: Report under Section 10 of the Reservoirs Act 1975’, 13 June 2017
Cantor, L M, 'The Medieval Parks of Leicestershire' in Transactions of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, Vol 46, (1970-1), 19
Henthorn-Brown, D, 'Canal reservoirs in Great Britain' in Proceedings of the Institute of Civil Engineers. Engineering History and Heritage, Vol 162 (2), (May 2009), 103-10
Jessop, William, 'Observations on the Use of Reservoirs for Flood Waters' in The Repertory of Arts, Manufactures, and Agriculture: Consisting of Original Communications, Specifications of Patent Inventions, Practical and Interesting Papers, Selected from the Philosophical Transactions and Scientific Journals of All Nations ..., Volume 3, (1795), 243-50
Shields, Steffie, 'Knipton Reservoir: A Historical Report and Survey', June 2017

Legal

This garden or other land is registered under the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953 within the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens by Historic England for its special historic interest.

End of official listing

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