Heritage Category: Park and Garden
List Entry Number: 1001053
Date first listed: 01-Jan-1985
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference: NT 87998 43057
Early and late C19 picturesque pleasure grounds and formal gardens, including the remodelling of mid to late C18 parkland and a medieval castle.
The Scots destroyed Twizel Castle, a medieval castle, in 1496, in support of Perkin Warbeck. Thereafter, the Carr family who owned the nearby estate at Ford Castle, 11km to the south-east, owned the Tillmouth property. On the marriage of Elizabeth Carr to Sir Francis Blake (1638-1718), MP for Berwick-on-Tweed in 1689 and the 1690s, the Tillmouth property came into the Blake family. Having no son, the property then passed to his grandson, Sir Francis Blake (1708-80) first Bt, a mathematician and supporter of the Whig government during the 1745 Jacobite rebellion. He died at Tillmouth in 1780, which would imply a family residence at the site.
Sir Francis Blake (1738-1818) second Bt, a political writer, commissioned James Nisbet of Kelso (d 1781) to incorporate the medieval ruin of Twizel Castle into a new gothick house. At the same time, Nisbet was employed by Blake's kinsman, Sir John Hussey Delaval, first Lord Delaval, at nearby Ford Castle. 'Twizel was a fantastic Gothick building in a romantic situation on the Tweed: it was never finished and is now a ruin.' (Colvin 1995). It is said variously that it was never completed (Pevsner and Richmond 1957) and that it was completed c 1830 (Strang 1994).
Building continued at Twizel Castle for some fifty years, work including elements of a landscape layout to complement the gothick castle. This included the construction of Stotford Bridge, which carried the public road across the Dean Burn to the south-west of the Castle. The walled garden at Twizel Nursery, to the west of the Castle may also date to this period. In 1812, when George Wyatt was working at Twizel Castle, it was said to be five storeys high and meant to be another fifteen feet higher (Pevsner and Richmond 1957).
The second Baronet was succeeded by his eldest son, also Francis (1775-1860), who represented Berwick in several Parliaments, until defeated in 1835. He was a colonel in the army and the Northumberland regiment of the Fencible Infantry, and owned an estate in the West Indies. The family lived in Tillmouth Park House, a mansion of c 1810, on the opposite bank of the Till from Twizel Castle. Gardens were laid out to the north and south-west of the mansion, in Picturesque style. These included a series of pleasure grounds laid out along the Dean Burn, and extending northwards along the banks of the Till. These took in the weirs at Twizel Mill and the confluence of the Dean Burn with the Till, picturesque views of Twizel Castle, and to the north extended west along the Till to Twizel Boathouse, situated on the Tweed, the Blake family having fishing rights which had been the subject of a hot dispute in the 1770s.
Tillmouth Park House was rebuilt in the 1870s and completed in 1882, to designs by Charles Barry junior (1823-1900). Barry recommended the demolition of Twizel Castle, in a letter writing how he 'inspected the unfinished building called Twizel Castle and I may dismiss it at once by saying that I think I never saw a more illadapted ¿ and ugly building ¿ impairing the natural beauty of the prospect. I can only suggest its entire removal' (Sir David Burnett pers comm, 2001). Thereby the Castle was partially demolished, some of the stonework being used in the construction of the new house and much being sold.
Tillmouth Park House is now a hotel (2001) and the estate remains in private, divided ownership.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING Tillmouth Park lies 17.5km south-west from Berwick-on-Tweed, on the A698, Cornhill-on-Tweed to Berwick-on-Tweed road. Lying on the south bank of the River Till, the park is set on a 'haugh' or alluvial terrace, with steep rocky outcrops leading down to the river along part of its northern length. The Till is a tributary of the River Tweed, the pleasure grounds extending 1.5km westwards along the river to the confluence of the Till and Tweed, with a second area of pleasure grounds leading along the Dean Burn. The Dean Burn is a small tributary of the Till which leads through the south part of Tillmouth Park to join the Till c 120m north-west of Twizel Mill.
The designed landscape here registered includes c 60ha of Tillmouth Park on the west bank of the Till from Twizel Mill, northwards to Twizel Bridge (C15, listed grade I). It includes the riverside walk/pleasure grounds that extend along the Till, on the left bank, this southern route leading through Nut Wood as far as the dismantled railway. On the north side of the Till a further 35ha of pleasure grounds extends from north of Twizel Bridge to a lane north of Twizel Castle (listed grade II*). The northern route, which takes in the dramatic and picturesque rock outcrops on which the ruins of Twizel Castle stand, leads westwards along St Helen's Bank, then northwards to the Twizel Boathouse. The boundary follows the lane westwards, then at the point that the lane leads northwards to Twizel Stead, the boundary follows a hedgeline westwards to meet the shelter belt of Twizel Castle walled garden. The west boundary of Tillmouth Park extends southwards from Nut Wood along the Castle Heaton Road and over the Stotford Bridge to then turn eastwards at the Henlaw Tunnel. The southern boundary then passes on the south side of the kitchen garden to Twizel Mill.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES The main entrance leads through a pair of twin gate lodges and a gateway (early C19, listed grade II) set c 400m west-south-west of the House, directly on the east side of the A698. The drive then forks, the left-hand, northern route leading north-east through woodland to reach the north front of the House. Now a drive for vehicular traffic, it appears to have originally been a walk (OS 1865).
The right-hand fork also leads north-eastwards, for most of its route parallel to the former, although they are screened from each other by a high embankment planted with evergreens. The embankment may represent the route of the public road pre-1810. This southern route leads past a carriage house, dovecote, and estate cottages (1825, listed grade II), 180m west of the House, before curving southwards to the west facade of the mansion. Between the carriage house and the mansion the drive is lined by a castellated wall (c 1810, listed grade II).
A track leads northwards from the gate lodge, passing around the perimeter of the park and, south of Twizel Bridge, along the top of Tilmouth Bank by the river. It then leads to the site of the southern kitchen garden, on the south boundary of the area here registered.
To the north of Twizel Bridge a drive which led northwards to the north-east tower of Twizel Castle is now a track. This then joins up 100m west of Twizel Castle with a lane leading to Twizel Steading and Twizel Castle walled garden. The latter lies c 500m west of Twizel Castle.
PRINCIPAL BUILDING Tillmouth Park House (c 1810, listed grade II) was rebuilt in 1882 to designs by Charles Barry junior. It is in Elizabethan style and incorporates many interior details from the earlier house of c 1810.
Twizell Castle (listed grade II*) incorporates the masonry of a medieval castle, and was started in c 1770 to designs by Nisbet of Kelso.
GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS The gardens and pleasure grounds comprise c 3ha at Tillmouth Park House, together with a further 9ha along the banks of the River Till.
Lawns to the north of the House give views over the park, with a garden pavilion (late C19/early C20, listed grade II) located 54m from the House, at the north-east corner of the lawns. An L-shaped grass embankment leads northwards and then westwards from the House, in between the entrance drives (see above). It is now wooded, although previously the easternmost section was open with views out onto the north park over to Twizel Castle (OS 1865).
The site of formal gardens lies 35m to the south-west of the House, enclosed by convex quadrant castellated walls to north and south. The walls originally framed a vista from the west front of the House, eastwards to a fountain backed with an evergreen yew hedge (OS 1865). The north wall is set with a carriage arch (c 1810, listed grade II), the arch later infilled with an apsidal back to form an arbour. That to the south is also pierced by an arch (both c 1810, listed grade II) which leads southwards to a series of formal walks leading to The Dean.
'The Dean' pleasure grounds, laid out on either side of the Dean Burn, are reached by a long walk leading southwards from the formal gardens. At their west boundary, against the south park, the walk leads across the Burn on Stotford Bridge (c 1810, listed grade II). The bridge is gothick in style with castellated parapets. On the south side of the bridge the walk leads into the Henlaw Tunnel (c 1810, listed grade II), 1.2m wide, 2m high and 30m long. This round tunnel vault is set into an artificial mound but its function is unclear. Hen Law itself is a knoll, which was planted with a clump (OS 1865). The southern walk of The Dean then leads eastwards to the walled garden, situated at the south-east corner of the registered area.
To the north of Twizel Castle an area of earthworks remain from the ground-modelling associated with the landscaping of a formal approach to the Castle. To the south of the Castle, alongside the Till, are a dramatic series of rocky cliffs and low caves which were exploited for their picturesque impact.
PARK Tillmouth Park, some 45ha, is enclosed by a stone boundary wall and sheltered by a belt of perimeter planting on all sides apart from the riverside boundary. There are two distinct areas of parkland, both planted with clumps, to north and south of the central spine of woodland, which shelters the entrance drives and formal L-shaped embankment (see above). The north park slopes gently north-east down to Twizel Bridge, a high single-span bridge over the River Till set in a picturesque wooded glen at the park's north-east corner. There are picturesque views of Twizel Castle, set on a ridge appearing over a dense woodland belt to the north of the river.
The south park is similar in aspect to the north but is divided along its north perimeter from the formal gardens by a ha-ha, now partially filled in and elsewhere screened from Tillmouth Park House by recent hedge planting. The Dean projects westwards into the south park dividing the major part of it from Hen Law, the southernmost section of parkland.
KITCHEN GARDEN A kitchen garden 500m to the west of Twizel Castle stands on the top of an escarpment overlooking the Till. It is walled on its north side by a stone, vented wall with a range of bothies and gardener's house on the north side of the wall. The garden was operated as Twizel Nursery (OS 1926), but is now (2003) planted with broadleaved native trees and is no longer a nursery. A kitchen garden existed to the south-east of Tillmouth Park House, to the south of The Dean (OS 1865); it is now pasture and woodland.
Berwick Directory (1806, reprinted 1999), pp 18, 59-60, 75, 95-6, 175 N Pevsner and I A Richmond, The Buildings of England: Northumberland (1957, reprinted 1974), p 299 B Jones, Follies & Grottoes (1974), p 374 C Strang, The Borders and Berwick (1994), pp 68-9 H Colvin, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840 (1995), p 595
Maps OS 6" to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1860, published 1865 3rd edition surveyed 1925, published 1926
Description written: October 2001 Amended: March 2003 Register Inspector: KC Edited: July 2003
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: 2055
Legacy System: Parks and Gardens
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