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Petwood House Gardens, Woodhall Spa

Reference Name MLI115975

Petwood House Gardens, Woodhall Spa

Gardens to the former Petwood House, now Hotel, at Woodhall Spa. Designed and laid out in 1912 by Harold Peto.


Research into the history and development of the gardens for the former Petwood House, now Hotel, was conducted in 2014, to inform proposed restoration plans. The gardens were designed and laid out in 1912 by Harold Peto, and were largely planned around a central axis that leads south from the main house building. The garden contained many ornamental features including sunken, rose, azalea and Italian gardens, a central raised terrace and a classically inspired Temple of Atalanta, flanked by pergolas. Many of these elements are still extant, although the Temple of Atalanta has largely disappeared. {1}{2}

Harold Peto was one of the most accomplished garden designers of the Edwardian period, with his work being characterised by the revivalism of formal styles which increasingly emphasised structure through garden architecture rather than horticulture. His design at Petwood embodies many of the design elements that are most associated with his work, notably the well-structured composition punctuated by water features, pergolas, a sunken garden and loggia which create visual and textural interest in an otherwise flat site.
It is thought that the original gardens at Petwood were designed by William Goldring in 1905, at the same time that Petwood House was itself built (see PRN 47215). This earlier garden was replaced by the Peto design in 1912, and little trace of the original design appears to have survived on the site.
The gardens occupy an area of approximately 12 hectares, located on the north side of the village of Woodhall Spa, and are surrounded by woodland. They are bounded on the south by Coronation Road, on the west by Stixwould Road and on the north-west by Monument Road, with the entrance drive located off Stixwould Road where the former lodge house still stands (see PRN 47214).
The gardens form an oblong with a main north-south axis from the centre of the house aligned with the site of the former Atalanta Temple at the far extremity of the grounds, crossed by a terrace running east-west and a parallel raised cross walk halfway down the garden. Along the south front of the house is a broad stone-flagged terrace with a pierced stone balustrade surmounted by urns at the corners. A central opening leads down to a stone-flagged, circular area which has low triangular hedges at each corner and a central circular hedge, the remnants of Goldring’s topiary that was altered by Peto. From here, the main axial path leads southwards to a circular stone-edged pool with a small fountain statue of a baby Neptune, acquired from the late 19th century Ducel foundry in France. This forms the junction with the east-west axis which originally had pierced balustrading and a paved terrace, now lost, leaving only a raised bank. The gardens are registered as being of special historic interest. For the full description of this designated asset, please refer to the National Heritage List for England entry. {3}

1 Report: Stewart Squires. 2010. The Petwood Hotel, Woodhall Spa. -
2 Report: Robin Whalley. 2014. Restoration of the Historic Peto Garden at the Petwood Hotel, Woodhall Spa. -
3 Website: Historic England (formerly English Heritage). 2011->. The National Heritage List for England. http://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/. 1442113

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Last updated: 06-December-2018 13:40:42

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