Rickerby Park, Carlisle


Heritage Category:
Park and Garden
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Carlisle, Cumbria, CA3 9AA


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Statutory Address:
Carlisle, Cumbria, CA3 9AA

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

Carlisle (District Authority)
Non Civil Parish
Carlisle (District Authority)
Stanwix Rural
National Grid Reference:


Ornamental pleasure grounds and landscaped park laid out in about 1835, as the setting for a Greek Revival house. The park was altered in 1920-22 to form a war memorial park. Formal gardens and entrance added in 1932-33 to the design of the landscape architect Edward Prentice Mawson of Thomas Mawson and Son, with the City Surveyor, Percy Dalton.

Reasons for Designation

Rickerby Park, a landscaped park and pleasure gardens laid out in about 1835 and altered after the First World War as a war memorial park, is registered at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Historic interest: as a designed landscape laid out to picturesque principles alongside the meandering course of the River Eden, transformed in 1920-22 to form the dignified surroundings to a monumental cenotaph, with further formal memorial gardens added in 1932-33;

* Commemorative: as a poignant reminder and ‘living’ testament of the sacrifice made by over 10,000 men of the Border Regiment, the Westmorland and Cumberland Yeomanry Cavalry, and the Cumberland Artillery, who died during the First World War, as well as those that lost their lives during the Second World War and subsequent conflicts;

* Architecture: as the contemporary landscaped setting for a nationally significant Grade II listed Greek Revival house and lodge, and after the First World War, an elegant and imposing Grade II listed cenotaph designed by the distinguished architect Sir Robert Lorimer;

* Degree of survival: enough of the layout survives to reflect the original design of about 1835, whilst the alterations made after the First World War have enhanced the existing landscape features to form a war memorial park that survives well;

* Design: for the Eden Bridge Gardens added in 1932-33 by Edward Mawson, as a carefully detailed, well-executed and well-preserved formal garden in an elevated position overlooking the River Eden, which used recycled materials and many exotic plants;

* Group value: with the Grade I listed Eden Bridge, Grade II listed cenotaph, Grade II listed Rickerby House, north lodge (Study Quiet), folly tower and Ivy Cottage and the Memorial Bridge (unlisted).


Rickerby was an estate given by Henry I, with other land, to Richard Tilliol in the early C12. It is recorded as ‘Ricardeby’ in the Calendar of Inquisitions in 1237 and ‘Ricardby’ in 1297. Remains of the shrunken medieval village including rectilinear plots, possibly gardens or crofts dating from the C11 to C13, were uncovered during excavations next to Rickerby House in 2002. After being held by the Tilliols it passed through a number of families, including the Pickerings, Westons, Musgraves, Studholmes, Gilpins and Richardsons. A large part of the nucleus of the estate was formed by the purchases of John Richardson, and then his son William who made a fortune in the City of London and applied it to improving the estate in the late C18. An indenture dated 1771 appears to record the beginnings of Rickerby House and grounds; referring to a house ‘lately erected’ with a garden and stable (D/Ric 8). The estate was subsequently owned by James Graham and purchased by George Head Head at the Bush Inn, Carlisle, on 14 June 1832. The sales advertisement listed the estate as including Rickerby House, out offices, gardens, pleasure grounds, shrubberies, hot houses, and eight cottages in the adjoining village of Rickerby. It stated that: ‘the whole is surrounded by a rivulet running through the grounds, plantations and pleasure grounds, tastefully laid out, in which [there is] a picturesque cottage and summer house, and a boat house adjoining the River Eden’ (cited in Carlisle Council 1997). The main parkland appears to have formed a series of fields at this time because George Head Head, on taking possession, removed the hedges and planted a large number of trees. It was speculated locally that the tree planting was laid out in clumps on the lines of battalions and regiments during the Battle of Waterloo (1815). George Head Head extended the estate, purchasing land surrounding it, building a park lodge on Brampton Road, and setting up separate boys’ and girls’ schools in Rickerby.

On 26 July 1861 a grand review of the Cumberland Rifle Volunteers took place in the park. A total of 750 troops were scrutinised by a government inspector amid an estimated crowd of about 12,000 spectators. After the death of George Head Head in 1876, the estate was passed to Miles MacInnes, a former business partner, who owned it until 1914. It subsequently passed to his trustees and was broken up and sold off over the following years. After the First World War, Rickerby Park was purchased as a war memorial park by The Carlisle Citizens League and the City Council. At this time it included 68 acres of pasture ‘well studded with trees’ (sales particulars cited in Carlisle City Council, 1997).

The Carlisle Citizens League was founded during the first week of the First World War. It dedicated itself to helping ex-servicemen, and established the Lonsdale Battalion which looked after soldiers and sailors passing through Carlisle. After the First World War plans for a war memorial were discussed; initial proposals were for a triumphal arch and a new public hall debated at a meeting on 15 November 1918. The League subsequently agreed to take an option on Rickerby Park as a suitable site for a memorial in June 1919. Carlisle City Council decided to contribute to the scheme which involved the acquisition of the park. It was proposed that Rickerby Park itself would also serve as a ‘living memorial’ and a place of recreation. Near the centre, approached by footpaths, would be a stone cenotaph and, in order to improve access from the city centre, a bridge would be erected across the River Eden.

In May 1920 the Scottish architect Sir Robert Lorimer (1864-1929) was consulted and subsequently appointed to design the cenotaph, following a recommendation by a committee of Carlisle architects. Lorimer was principally a domestic architect, working on restorations of historic houses and castles, and creating new work in Scots Baronial and Gothic Revival styles. In 1919 he received the major commission of the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle, which was completed in 1927.

The layout of Rickerby Park was altered in 1920-22. Ex-servicemen were employed under the City Unemployment Scheme to carry out the work. A footpath was laid around the perimeter of the park and along the riverside, with additional paths leading to the cenotaph near the centre. A path was made from Eden Terrace at the west, road access improved, and tree cover within the park modified. Historic OS maps (1872, 1925 and 1939, 1:2500) indicate that some individual trees were removed, several copses enlarged and a belt of trees planted flanking a pathway south of the memorial. Ex-servicemen also constructed the foundations of the cenotaph and bridge piers. The cenotaph was built by John Laing and Son Ltd, forming a granite monument over 12m high. The word ‘cenotaph’ derives from the Greek for an empty tomb, signifying a monument to those whose remains are buried elsewhere. Redpath Brown & Co of Glasgow were appointed to construct the bridge across the River Eden. The total cost of the project was £21,000: £11,500 for the purchase of the park, £4500 for the bridge and £5000 for the cenotaph. A substantial proportion was raised by public subscription.

Rickerby Park was officially opened in a ceremony led by the Earl of Lonsdale, Lord Lieutenant for Cumberland, on Saturday 27 May 1922. An estimated crowd of 30,000 people gathered around the cenotaph, including: Archibald Creighton the Mayor of Carlisle, the Bishop of Carlisle, representatives of the local territorial and regular army units, voluntary aid detachments, members of the boy scouts, boys’ brigades, girl guides, over 5,000 school children, relatives of the fallen and residents from across Cumberland and Westmorland. Lord Lonsdale declared the bridge and park open, and then unveiled the cenotaph. Four sentries stood at the corners of the monument and a guard of honour next to it. The bishop performed a dedication ceremony, buglers sounded the Last Post and there was a minute’s silence before the sounding of the Reveille. Wreaths and bunches of flowers were finally laid at the base of the memorial.

In March 1928 new entrance gates for Rickerby Park were proposed using the remainder of the war memorial fund. Edward Prentice Mawson, son of the English garden designer Thomas Mawson (1861-1933), was consulted regarding a design for formal gardens to form part of this entrance next to Eden Bridge. A report was submitted to the City Council and the final plans and construction work were overseen by Percy Dalton, the City Surveyor. Eden Bridge Gardens were laid out next to the site of Eden Terrace; houses demolished during the widening of Eden Bridge in the 1920s. The gardens were constructed by unemployed labourers over eight months utilising reclaimed stone from the old bridge parapets, city pavements, roofing flags from a barn in Caldbeck, Cumbria, and stone from the demolished Carlisle Gaol. The scheme was completed at a cost of £3450, significantly under the original estimate of £5000. The gardens were officially opened on 21 December 1933.

Rickerby House was used as the United Services Fund Home for children of ex-servicemen in 1925. Between 1929 and 1934 it was a boys’ preparatory school. In 1951 it was bought by Cumberland County Council and became Eden School in 1953. The school closed in 1993 and the building was subsequently refurbished and sold as apartments. The property, now known as ‘Rickerby Gardens’, and the former pleasure grounds immediately surrounding it are in private ownership and not accessible to the public. In about 2005 a square sandstone well was uncovered close to the nearby Ivy Cottage. Eden Bridge Gardens were restored in 2008 using funding provided by a £50,000 Heritage Lottery Grant. Eden Bridge Gardens and Rickerby Park remain open as a public park in 2017.


Ornamental pleasure grounds and landscaped park laid out in about 1835, as the setting for a Greek Revival house. The park was altered in 1920-22 to form a war memorial park. Formal gardens and entrance added in 1932-33 to the design of the landscape architect Edward Prentice Mawson of Thomas Mawson and Son, with the City Surveyor, Percy Dalton.

LOCATION, SETTING, LANDFORM, BOUNDARIES AND AREA Rickerby Park lies just to the north of Carlisle, occupying approximately 108 acres of land (including the privately owned former pleasure grounds), next to the meandering course of the River Eden. It is situated on the flat, open, flood plain north of the river, except for a steep bank at the north-west. The site of a Roman cavalry fort, now known as Stanwix Fort (originally as Uxelodunum); the largest on Hadrian’s Wall, is immediately to the north-west (Scheduled Monument, List Entry No: 1017948, within Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site). It is now covered by housing, although the alignment of the Vallum, a buried ditch associated with the Roman wall, lies just inside the park, parallel to Brampton Road. The sinuous course of the River Eden forms the southern boundary to Rickerby Park. At the west the park is bounded by Bridgewater Road, which crosses the river via Eden Bridge, and at the north-west by Brampton Road. The park is fenced off from open fields and playing fields to the north. On the east side Burnstock Beck separates the park from the former pleasure grounds surrounding Rickerby House; these gardens are bounded by Rickerby Park road and neighbouring properties on the edge of Rickerby village.

ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES There are two principal approaches to Rickerby Park: a south entrance provided by Memorial Bridge, a cantilever bridge erected across the River Eden in 1922, and a west entrance on the north side of Eden Bridge that leads through formal gardens and out onto a terrace walk. There is vehicular access via Rickerby Park road, which crosses the north side of the park from east to west; a car park is situated at the east next to a C19 single-span stone bridge that crosses Burnstock Beck. Three small pedestrian entrances are situated on the northern edge of the park.

PRINCIPAL BUILDING The landscaped park was laid out as the grounds of Rickerby House, a Greek-Revival mansion built in about 1835 around an early or mid-C18 brick house, on the edge of Rickerby village (Grade II listed, List Entry No: 1335511). It is constructed of sandstone ashlar to two-storeys high with a hipped slate roof. The (north-east) entrance front is of five bays with a central Doric tetrastyle entrance porch, sash windows with moulded surrounds, and a dentilled cornice. On the (south-west) garden front there are nine bays; a hexastyle portico at the centre and side wings each of two bays. Attached to the south-east are an 1879 extension with a three-storey tower built for Miles MacInnes, and a single-storey brick addition with niches between sash windows facing the garden. Rickerby Cottage, 100m north-west of the house, is attached to a brick battlemented curtain wall. A gate lodge is situated next to the north drive leading off Rickerby Park road. It has a Greek Doric tetrastyle temple front and rear porticos (Grade II listed, List Entry No: 1087698). The entablature of the front elevation is complete with triglyphs, metopes and guttae, and the pediment is carved with a coat of arms and the motto of George Head Head: STUDY QUIET. Adjacent to the east drive is Ivy Cottage, a brick cottage of 1725 converted to a girl’s school by George Head Head but now a private residence (Grade II listed, List Entry No:1087698). It is two-storeys high with stone dressings, altered mullioned windows, a gabled slate roof and brick chimney stacks.

Outside the boundary of Rickerby Park but visible as an eye-catcher is a folly to the north-east; a about 1835 octagonal sandstone tower of three storeys with string courses, a pointed doorway and slit windows. It is now roofless but originally had an octagonal slate roof (Grade II listed, List Entry No:1335508).

A stone cenotaph built in 1922-23 near the centre of Rickerby Park commemorates over 10,000 men of the Border Regiment, the Westmorland and Cumberland Yeomanry Cavalry, and the Cumberland Artillery, who died during the First World War (Grade II listed, List Entry No. 1291971). It comprises a broad raised platform 9m wide, approached by stone steps at the south, supporting a cenotaph 12m high. The cenotaph is built of shap granite ashlar with a tapering rectangular shaft, which rises to a sub-cornice enriched by foliage carvings including palm branches, and a tomb decorated with a laurel wreath. The lower part of the shaft is carved with crests and insignia; those of Carlisle, Cumberland, the Royal Navy, the Army, the Royal Air Force and medical services on the front and those of the Border Regiment, the Westmorland and Cumberland Yeomanry Cavalry, and the Cumberland Artillery on the back. The memorial is surrounded by a square enclosure formed of speared cast-iron railings and a cast-iron gate.

GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS The remnants of the pleasure grounds occupy the area immediately to the north and west of Rickerby House. These gardens may have late C18 or early C19 origins; gardens are mentioned in 1771 and pleasure grounds are recorded in the 1832 sales particulars. A lawn is situated on the west side of the house but to the north are remnants of shrubberies and ornamental trees. The 1872 OS map shows the grounds planted informally with walks to the north, west and south. The general planting scheme is still evident but at the south it has been encroached upon by a modern housing development. Burnstock Beck separates the pleasure grounds from the park to the west.

THE PARK The park comprises open grazed grassland interspersed with small belts and copses of mature trees, as well as the occasional individual tree. Historic OS maps indicate several clumps were enlarged and individual trees were removed during the conversion to a memorial park, although many of the copses shown on the 1872 OS map still survive. The trees species include: English Oak, lime, maple, horse chestnut, birch and ash. The main area of the park is enclosed on the east, south and west by a large meander of the River Eden. Near the centre is the stone cenotaph, which forms the principal view across the landscape where it can be seen framed by trees with meadow in the foreground. It is surrounded by a square lawn set within a railed enclosure with a pathway around the perimeter approached by footpaths at the north, south and west; these were added in 1920-22 and have latterly been re-surfaced in tarmac. The footpath at the south forms the main approach from Memorial Bridge and is flanked by a belt of trees planted in about 1920-22. Memorial Bridge is a steel-truss cantilever bridge resting on stone piers, which links the park with the north-east side of Carlisle. A memorial plaque is attached to a truss over the walkway and inscribed: THIS BRIDGE WAS ERECTED/ AND/ RICKERBY PARK ACQUIRED FOR THE PUBLIC/ THROUGH THE EFFORTS OF/ THE CARLISLE CITIZENS LEAGUE/ IN MEMORY/ OF THOSE WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES/ IN/ THE GREAT WAR OF 1914-1918./ OPENED/ 25TH MAY 1922/ BY/ THE RIGHT HON. THE EARL OF LONSDALE/ LORD LIEUTENANT OF CUMBERLAND. Additional footpaths run around the perimeter of the park and along the riverside, passing beside and between coppices. Part of the river bank is fringed with willows planted in 2009 to reduce erosion. A stone circle is situated at the east of the park. It was erected in 2011 with standing stones hewn from six different rock types, which are carved with educational inscriptions outlining the geology of the River Eden’s catchment area.

The west side of the park forms a broad strip of meadowland, known as King’s Meadow, on the flood plain of the adjacent meander in the River Eden. It is separated from the main area of the park by a band of trees at the east. At the north of this broad strip there is a steeply sloping bank, known as Greenay Bank, which has a terrace walk cut into it and trees planted along the top. There are several viewing platforms which are cut into the bank with Penrith Sandstone retaining walls and modern benches. The terrace walk offers a prospect south across the River Eden, towards the city, and west in the direction of Eden Bridge which forms a scenic backdrop. The bridge was built by Robert Smirke in 1812-15 of sandstone ashlar with five segmental arches, prominent voussoirs and rounded piers (Grade I listed, List Entry No:1297364). On the meadowland near the bridge are the relocated footings of Priestbeck Bridge, which were recovered from the river during dredging in 1953.

Eden Bridge Gardens form the west entrance to the park with stone steps leading directly down from the bridge abutment on the north side of the river. These formal gardens were designed by the landscape architect Edward Prentice Mawson of Thomas Mawson and Son, with the City Surveyor, Percy Dalton. A memorial plaque is set into the abutment wall with an inscription surrounded by a laurel wreath: 1932/ CITY OF CARLISLE/ RICKERBY PARK/ THIS ENTRANCE WAS PROVIDED/ AND/ RICKERBY PARK ACQUIRED FOR THE PUBLIC/ THROUGH THE EFFORTS OF/ THE CARLISLE CITIZENS LEAGUE/ IN MEMORY/ OF THOSE WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE/ GREAT WAR/ 1914-1918. The gardens have a symmetrical layout in a design reflecting arts and crafts traditions and the Italian style. It comprises two main parts facing the river; the principal garden to the south-east and a smaller garden to the north-west separated by a rockery. They are terraced into the bank with elevated views south towards the river, cathedral and city. The main garden is backed by a Penrith Sandstone retaining wall in front of which is a rose pergola with square stone pillars and an English Oak trellis roof. At the centre are stone steps leading down to a formal terrace with rectilinear grass plots, flower beds and crazy-paved footpaths. Flanking the lawns are two single-bay rest houses; they are constructed of snecked stone with mullioned windows, angle buttresses and mansard roofs covered in stone slates. Originally the western house served as a general shelter and the eastern house as a ladies retiring room; they were latterly used as lavatories but are currently closed (2017). The terrace is supported by a Penrith Sandstone wall, which has two broad flights of steps at each end and an ornamental arched recess at the centre. The keystone of the arch is carved with a lion’s head which spouts water into a small lily pond flanked by spherical box trees and a further two flights of steps. These lead down to a large semi-circular middle terrace containing grass plots and white crazy-paved footpaths enclosed by a yew hedge surrounded by a perimeter path that links the main entrance with the gates to Rickerby Park.

The smaller garden to the north-west is approached via a pathway bounded by a rockery of Penrith Sandstone laid as to present the appearance of a natural rocky outcrop. It is planted with a variety of rock plants that were originally supplied by a nursery at Blackwell, south of Carlisle, including: Garrya elliptica, Choisya ternata and Desfontainea spinosa. In the centre is a small dripping well where water plants were formerly grown; it is now dry and has been replanted. The pathway leads up a flight of stone steps to a terrace with a rectangular lily pond. There is a fountain at the centre of the pond; originally it contained a statue of a child holding a duck under his arm which spouted water from its mouth but this was removed prior to 1997. Herbaceous plants mark the perimeter of the pond and the surrounding paths. Behind the pond, set into the bank, is a sandstone retaining wall with a pillared rose pergola in front of it, matching that to the main garden. On the east side of the garden are stone steps leading to the top of Greenay Bank, which is richly wooded with English Oak, lime, sycamore and maple trees.

This List entry has been amended to add sources for War Memorials Online and the War Memorials Register. These sources were not used in the compilation of this List entry but are added here as a guide for further reading, 16 August 2017.


War Memorials Online, accessed 16 August 2017 from https://www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/177074
War Memorials Online, accessed 16 August 2017 from https://www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/132433
War Memorials Register, accessed 16 August 2017 from http://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/54127
War Memorials Register, accessed 16 August 2017 from http://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/54130
War Memorials Register, accessed 16 August 2017 from http://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/4266
1771 Indenture (Carlisle Archive Centre, Reference No: D/Ric 8)
Carlisle City Council Leisure & Community Development Department, Parks and Open Spaces in Carlisle. Unpublished report contained in Historic England Registry File GD 03325/A (c1997)
Carlisle Journal, 26 May 1922
Cumberland News, 27 May 1922
Historic England Registry File GD 02412/A (Italian Gardens, Rickerby Park, Carlisle)
Historic England Registry File GD 03325/A (Rickerby Park Memorial Gardens, Carlisle)
Historic England Registry File PK013649 (The Cenotaph War Memorial, Rickerby Park, Carlisle)
OS map 1:2500 (1871 edn)
OS map 1:2500 (1925 edn)
OS map 1:2500 (1939 edn)
Programme of the unveiling of Cumberland and Westmorland Joint Counties’ War Memorial and the opening of Rickerby Park and Memorial Bridge (Carlisle Archive Centre Reference No DFCCL 8/118/2)


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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