Walls enclosing nursery gardens and ride to Beckford's Gate


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Upper Lansdown Mews, Bath


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Statutory Address:
Upper Lansdown Mews, Bath

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

Bath and North East Somerset (Unitary Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Coursed rubble walls enclosing four sides of the former nursery gardens of William Beckford (1760-1844), built around 1825-1830, with the involvement of the architect Henry Edmund Goodridge (1797-1864).

Reasons for Designation

The north, east, south and west walls to the nursery gardens and the ride to Beckford’s Gate, built in about 1825-1830 for William Beckford, with the involvement of architect H E Goodridge, are listed at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* as a relatively complete walled and terraced garden dating from about 1825-1830, constructed in a period from which most buildings are listed;

* for the inclusion of architectural features such as vaults with arched openings, and a good flight of embellished stone steps by H E Goodridge (1797-1864), which go beyond what would have been required for mere utility.

Historic interest:

* the terraces to the north, east and west represent the first and only surviving elements of Beckford’s Ride, a well-documented designed landscape which has been described as one of the most significant examples of the Picturesque movement in England. It extended a mile north-westwards from the nursery gardens to Lansdown Tower (now Beckford’s Tower), and was designed for himself by William Beckford (1760-1844), writer, builder and collector and patron of the arts, and through which Beckford would walk and ride daily.

Group value:

* with 20 Lansdown Crescent (listed at Grade I as part of 1-20 Lansdown Crescent, NHLE 1394109), William Beckford’s house, for which the nursery gardens were constructed, and from whose rear gate opposite the south-west corner of the nursery gardens Beckford would access the site.


The terraces that now surround the houses in Dixon Gardens made up the lower section of a linear garden designed by William Beckford and the Bath architect Henry Edmund Goodridge between 1823 and 1844. It formed part of Beckford’s ‘ride’ from his house at 20 Lansdown Crescent, just to the south, to his tower on top of Lansdown Hill, now known as Beckford’s Tower. Beckford’s design was influenced by the lengthy private grounds laid out by his great-uncle Charles Hamilton north of the Royal Crescent. The ride took in a series of structures, which included a long grotto tunnel, an Italianate cottage, walks, rides, exotic planting, a rockery, ornamental pools and a quarry, beginning with the embattled gateway (Grade II) at the north-east corner of the nursery gardens.

The area enclosed on three sides by terraces with revetment walls was purchased by Beckford in 1825, becoming his kitchen and nursery gardens. The walls formerly enclosed the first part of the mile-long ride to Lansdown Hill, along which Beckford rode almost daily, enjoying the seclusion of his private domain. Beckford walked from his house northwards to the western terrace, walked up the western terrace and a short flight of steps to the upper northern terrace, and from there eastwards to the embattled gateway, where a groom would meet him with his horse, brought along the eastern terrace ride from the stables off Upper Lansdown Mews.

Following Beckford’s death in 1844 much of the land which included the ride was sold for development, and the line of the ride between the embattled gateway and Beckford’s Tower is no longer discernible, and the majority of the garden buildings, apart from those in the area of the former kitchen/nursery garden and those at Beckford’s Tower, have been lost. The area to the north of the terraced garden was developed by the construction of Springfield Villa; the very large plot was divided in two in the 1960s, when the house known as Beckford’s Gate was built. The western and northern terraces have been retained in one ownership, and the eastern terrace sold separately. By 1845, a row of semi-detached villas, known as Springfield Place, had been built to the east, fronting on to Lansdown Road, with their gardens backing on to the eastern terrace of the ride. The level area of the former nursery gardens was put up for sale for development in the 1850s, but without success; it became known as the National Gardens, and was primarily used as a place for exercise. There appears to have been some alteration to the inner and outer walls of the western terrace: there is an area of loss of each towards the southern end, probably associated with the creation of vehicular access to the neighbouring plot. The former gardens were sold in the mid-C20 for the development of Dixon Gardens, a small estate of nine later-C20 houses. The southern wall was breached roughly half-way along its length to create a new access road to the new development, with the creation of a very wide opening. There is evidence of rebuilding and patching of various dates to this section of wall.


Coursed rubble walls enclosing four sides of the former nursery gardens of William Beckford (1760-1844), built around 1825-1830, with the involvement of the architect Henry Edmund Goodridge (1797-1864).

MATERIALS Coursed limestone rubble.

PLAN The walls describe an irregular polygon with straight sides to north, west and south, and a cranked eastern side (formerly Beckford’s Ride). The area is terraced to the east, north and west, rising in two stages to the north side, with a wider lower terrace and narrower upper terrace. The eastern and western terraces become gradually shallower towards the south, becoming level with the roadside at Upper Lansdown Mews.

DESCRIPTION The eastern walls flanking Beckford's Ride are approximately 2m high above ground level, and 140m long, of varying height and construction. The revetment walls to the north, approximately 70m long, are of squared rubble stone with later buttresses; they are plain and form revetments to two raised terraces. At the western end are stone steps with broad, wreathed balustrades leading to the upper terrace and walk, probably designed by H E Goodridge. The upper terrace, leading to the embattled gateway, has a coped stone wall with a flight of steps giving access from one of the gardens above. On the eastern side the wall is huge and impressive with round-headed arches, some now blocked up, and vaults behind. To the western side, the terrace wall extends from the cottage which adjoins the north-western corner of the gardens by a straight joint. Approximately 3m high, the wall runs straight towards the south, but is truncated at the southern end where a later building has been inserted. At the lower level, walls running around four sides of the development of Dixon Gardens, form revetments to the terraces on three sides. The terraces become shallower towards the south, and the lower wall gradually rises to about 1m above the ground level of the terrace. This wall is truncated, with the rear boundaries of 1 - 3 Dixon Gardens marked by fencing rather than walling. The circuit of the former walled garden is completed with a boundary wall to the south. This has a pedestrian opening with an iron lintel at its western end, giving access to the western terrace. There is a wide opening for the new road into Dixon Gardens, with some rebuilding of the remaining walls to either side.


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

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Books and journals
Jackson, N, Nineteenth Century Bath - Architects and Architecture, (1991), 89
Milne, J , William Beckford, (1976), 79
Beckford’s Tower and Museum: Beckford’s Ride – The Kitchen Gardens, Terraces and Walls (unpublished)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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