Historic England awards £100,000 grant to complete restoration of “heaven on earth” Plumpton Rocks

Plumpton Rocks woodland.'picture: Historic England Archive
Plumpton Rocks woodland.'picture: Historic England Archive

Historic England has awarded a grant of more than £100,000 towards the restoration of Plumpton Rocks, described as “heaven on earth” by Queen Mary, the wife of King George V.

Plumpton Rocks near Knaresborough is a Grade II*-listed 18th Century man-made lake, set against a backdrop of dramatic rock formations and surrounded by 30 acres of beautiful parkland.

From the late 18th Century to the late 20th Century, Plumpton Rocks was a celebrated pleasure ground enjoyed by everyone from the paying public to royalty. But it fell into decline towards the end of the last century and was eventually put on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register in 2012.

The Historic England grant of £103,160 grant will fund essential works to the lake.

This marks the final phase of a major restoration programme, which began in 2016 with the dredging of the lake and repair of its dam.

Having already given £311,000 to fund this earlier phase, Historic England has contributed more than £414,000 in total to returning Plumpton Rocks to its former glory.

The North Yorkshire pleasure grounds were created by plantation owner and politician Daniel Lascelles, whose elder brother Edwin built Harewood House. Lascelles bought the estate in the mid-1750s and landscaping began in 1755.

The lake was formed by the construction of a dam in 1755-6 to the designs of celebrated York architect John Carr.

Plumpton Rocks was immortalised by JW Turner who painted the lake twice in 1797. He was commissioned by the owner at the time Edward Lascelles, 1st Earl of Harewood and both paintings now hang at Harewood House.

More recently, the site was used as one of the locations for the 2016 film adaptation of Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons.

Giles Proctor, Heritage at Risk Surveyor at Historic England, said: “Plumpton Rocks is one of North Yorkshire’s most impressive historic gardens, and the restoration work will help to ensure it remains so for future generations.

“We hope many people will now visit the site to enjoy the same views that inspired Turner over 200 years ago.”

Robert Hunter, current owner of Plumpton Rocks, said: “I am immensely grateful for the support that Historic England has provided to enable the restoration of Plumpton Rocks.

“Together with support from Natural England and the Historic Houses Foundation, Plumpton has been transformed back to its original splendour when Turner painted the landscape.”

Plumpton Rocks is open to the public every weekend from March to October and every day in August.

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