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Stonehurst/Many Waters, West Sussex

This is a complex and little-known grade II landscape by Thomas Mawson in a Wealden gill valley. It has features ranging from Mesolithic sites preserved beneath sandrock cliffs to Edwardian ponds and cascades. By the 1870s it was a pleasure farm with picturesque planting. At the turn of the century it was developed by Mawson in a manner reminiscent of his Lake District designs. A typical Arts-and-Crafts garden still overlooks spectacular rock terraces. These lead to a woodland valley garden that spans the whole 80ha of the site, structured by clusters of conifers.

acta prepared a conservation management plan which teased out a designed landscape structure based on sequences of complex views. It set out the significances and conflicting requirements of the designed and natural landscapes. Restoration of the water features devised and built by James Pulham, eradication of rhododendron from key areas and reconstructing the historic routes through the site were central to the proposals.

Private client

  1. Steps lead down from Mawson’s formal garden connecting the terraces parallel to the slope
  2. The sandrock cliffs sheltered prehistoric occupation. Nationally significant lower plants have colonised the rocks. It is difficult to tell how much of this landscape is designed and how much is the result of happy chances
  3. The design is based around an axis which extends from the house downhill, through ponds created by James Pulham and Son from modified millponds, to distant groups of Wellingtonias
  4. The garden adjacent to Stonehurst house retains many features of Mawson’s original Arts-and-Crafts garden
  5. This early photograph shows the terraces soon after completion