An ornamental cascade and weir, constructed between 1763-1765, probably by Stephen Wright for the First Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyme, with late-C18 and early-C19 alterations.
Reasons for Designation
Clumber Cascade, designed 1763-1765, possibly by Stephen Wright, with late C18 and early C19 alterations and additions, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* composed of roughly hewn blocks of limestone and featuring an artificial island, the structure of the cascade forms a skilfully executed naturalistic design which belies its function as part of a sophisticated engineering and water management scheme.
* the cascade forms part of the designed landscape of Clumber Park, a Grade I registered park and garden, with features by known architects and designers for the first and second Dukes of Newcastle.
* for its significant contribution to the interest of Clumber Park, as one of several listed park structures, including the Grade II*listed Clumber Bridge, with which it forms a picturesque grouping.
The Clumber Estate formed part of Sherwood Forest until the early-C18 when a licence was granted to enclose a deer park. The parkland was initially used for hunting but by 1761 the First Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyme had begun work extending the old hunting lodge into Clumber House. In the years that followed the park was landscaped and garden buildings and a lake were added.
Work began on a weir or dam in the form of an ornamental cascade between 1763-1765. It is likely that the cascade was designed by Stephen Wright, who also designed Clumber Bridge (1763-1770, Grade II*, National Heritage List for England (NHLE) entry 1045732). Wright is suggested to have begun his career as an assistant to William Kent and designed many other buildings under the patronage of the first and second Dukes of Newcastle, including the law school and University offices at Cambridge University (1754-1758; Grade I, NHLE entry 1126279). He also designed the house and several of the garden buildings at Clumber Park including the grotto and garden temples (Grade II*, NHLE entries 1045034, 1156484 and 1156511).
The bridge and cascade were situated southwest of the site of Clumber House, spanning the River Poulter which was dammed in 1774-1789 to form an ornamental lake. It is possible that the late-C18 cascade originally lay closer to the bridge and was later moved to its present location. Alterations were made to the cascade in 1788-1790 by John Marson and further improvements and repairs were made during 1822 and 1823. Ten years later there was another phase of alteration and improvement to the cascade using stone procured from Creswell Crags. This was undertaken under the supervision of Samuel Gray, described in contemporary accounts as ‘the foremost director of rockworks in the country’. It is likely that the island and small promontory were created after 1839 when Andrew Nesfield wrote to the Duke suggesting improvements to the cascade to make it appear more naturalistic.
The Clumber Estate passed through successive generations, with the title of the Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyme. But by the C20 the estate was in decline and in 1938 Clumber House, along with its terraces and parterres, was demolished. The park was requisitioned by the Army during the Second World War and passed into the care of the National Trust in 1945.
An ornamental cascade and weir, constructed c.1763-65, probably by Stephen Wright for the First Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyme, with late C18 and early C19 alterations.
MATRERIALS AND PLAN: the cascade is set within Clumber Park (Registered at Grade I, NHLE entry 1001079) and is located approximately 120m north-east of Clumber Bridge (Grade II*, NHLE entry 1045732) and 25m west of The Grotto (Grade II*, NHLE entry 1045034). The cascade is orientated on a roughly north-east to south-west axis and is formed of a 37m long curvilinear stone bank bisected by an artificial island, approximately 20m long and 9m wide. It is constructed of limestone sourced from Roche Abbey and Cresswell Crags.
DESCRIPTION: the cascade is composed of a foundation of individual blocks of roughly squared limestone with larger blocks of weathered limestone placed on top, giving the structure a naturalistic appearance and an average height of approximately 1.5m. In the centre of the structure there is an artificial island also formed out of rocks but covered on its surface with earth and vegetation. A short rocky promontory extends from the main cascade close to the western side of the island.