The historic site of Wood Hall was always occupied by a dwelling of some sort. Current records show that Henricus, a Saxon nobleman, lived here from the year 859. He baptised his children in a stream of spring water which ran through the premises into the river Derwent.
This stream of water runs underneath the present house and into the lower fish pond in the garden. In 1544 a descendant of Henricus, Henry Tolson, obtained a grant from Henry VIII to Wood Hall for the sum of £337 16s 9d. His descendants lived at Wood Hall until the early 19th century.
The Fisher family bought the site and built a new Hall in 1821. It burnt down in the 1870’s and Edward Tyson, a solicitor at Carlisle and Lord Lieutenant of the County of Cumberland, bought the site, building the house left on the old site in the 1870’s. This picture was taken in 1920 after Edward Tyson had engaged Thomas Mawson, an international Landscape Architect, to design a garden suitable for his house.
The garden was completed in the early 1920s, and Mawson’s plan for the garden, taken from the third edition of his book ‘The Art and Craft of Garden-Making’ is shown below. The old Hall was taken down in 1946, after the lime-laden stream overflowed its confines and rotted the structure. The garden decayed into ruin.
The present Wood Hall is where the previous old stables and barn were situated. The site of the old Hall is no more than an outline in stone, but two stone summerhouses remain, and the lines of Mawson’s design are strong and compelling. The view from the house was loved by Turner, and used as a subject several times.
The previous owners spent many years bringing the gardens back to life over a period of thirty years, and the current owners have very much continued in their footsteps, adding new paths and borders where necessary, whilst at the same time staying on top of the extraordinarily large amount of upkeep.
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