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Retaining wall, balustrade and steps between the flower and parterre gardens, Trentham Gardens

A Grade II Listed Building in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

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Latitude: 52.9643 / 52°57'51"N

Longitude: -2.2018 / 2°12'6"W

OS Eastings: 386541

OS Northings: 340790

OS Grid: SJ865407

Mapcode National: GBR 14W.258

Mapcode Global: WHBD0.4RSC

Plus Code: 9C4VXQ7X+P7

Entry Name: Retaining wall, balustrade and steps between the flower and parterre gardens, Trentham Gardens

Listing Date: 9 January 1996

Last Amended: 19 March 2019

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1244085

English Heritage Legacy ID: 448830

Location: Swynnerton, Stafford, Staffordshire, ST4

County: Staffordshire

District: Stafford

Civil Parish: Swynnerton

Built-Up Area: Stoke-on-Trent

Traditional County: Staffordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Staffordshire

Church of England Parish: Trentham St Mary and All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield

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Retaining wall, balustrade and steps between the flower and parterre gardens, 1833 to 1842, part of Charles Barry’s remodelling of Trentham Hall and Gardens for the 2nd Duke of Sutherland.


Retaining wall, balustrade and steps between the flower and parterre gardens, 1833 to 1842, part of Charles Barry’s remodelling of Trentham Hall and Gardens for the 2nd Duke of Sutherland.

PLAN: the structure stands between the flower garden, on the upper level to the north, and the lower parterre, to the south. It is linear, orientated roughly east-west, with a central set of semi-circular steps linking the levels.

MATERIALS: constructed from limestone ashlar.

DESCRIPTION: a low wall retains the ground between the upper and lower garden terraces, and is topped with a bottle balustrade with a moulded base and rails, articulated by squat square pillars. The pillars are now topped with vases, possibly replacements; these are missing on the two centre-most pillars. To the west, the wall terminates in a pavilion (Grade II-listed). At the centre of the wall, there is an opening with six shallow semi-circular steps linking the upper and lower terraces.


Trentham Hall and gardens were established on the site of a C12 Augustinian priory when, in 1540, after the priory was dissolved, it was purchased by wool merchant James Leveson. Under the ownership of the Leveson-Gower family, the house and grounds were redesigned multiple times. From 1630 to 1639 a new house was built for Sir Richard Leveson, in 1707 it was redesigned by William Smith of Warwick, and it was redesigned again between 1737 and 1738 by Francis Smith of Warwick. In the mid-C18, at the same time as Capability Brown enlarged the lake, the house was enlarged by Henry Holland from nine to fifteen bays, and in the early C19 Charles Heathcote Tatham added the east and west wings to its south elevation.

In 1833, following the death of George Granville Leveson-Gower, the 1st Duke of Sutherland, the estate was inherited by his eldest son, the 2nd Duke of Sutherland, and his wife, Harriet (née Howard). In the same year they commissioned the architect Sir Charles Barry to redesign Trentham Hall, which included the addition of the grand entrance at the west end, the addition of a belvedere tower over the old kitchen, the building of an orangery, sculpture gallery and clock tower, and the rebuilding of the stables and service quarters. The design of the Italianate formal gardens is also attributed to Barry, formed of two shallow terraces leading down to the lake with parterres and balustrading, statues, urns, pavilions and fountains.

Trentham Hall was largely demolished from 1910 to 1912 but remains of its entrance and conservatory, orangery and sculpture gallery and stable block survive. The entrance lodges to Trentham were relocated from the west entrance to the present position on Stoke Road in the 1920s, when the site became a public pleasure garden. The various structures built for entertainment in the C20, such as the tennis courts, ballroom and open-air swimming pool have since been demolished. The estate is now operated as a commercial leisure attraction.

The balustrade, retaining wall and steps were a part of Barry’s 1834-1842 formal Italianate garden scheme for the 2nd Duke of Sutherland.

Sir Charles Barry (1795-1860) was a leading architect in the early to mid-C19. Best-known for his design of the Houses of Parliament with AWN Pugin, he was also an influential country house architect, and a passionate architectural gardener, popularising the Italianate style.

Reasons for Listing

The Retaining Wall, Balustrade and Steps are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* an accomplished exemplar of the mid-C19 fashions for the Italianate style in garden design, and forming an elegant boundary between the formal garden terraces.

Historic interest:

* designed by Charles Barry, an important C19 architect and leader in the popularisation of the Italianate style.

Group value:

* the structure is an integral part of Barry’s C19 designed landscape, and has a strong relationship to other listed garden features.

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