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Pigeon Tower, staircases, stone arches, stone screen and two gate piers in Rivington Gardens at SD 6397 1433

A Grade II Listed Building in Rivington, Lancashire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.6243 / 53°37'27"N

Longitude: -2.5465 / 2°32'47"W

OS Eastings: 363949

OS Northings: 414339

OS Grid: SD639143

Mapcode National: GBR BVNJ.HH

Mapcode Global: WH97L.V5KB

Entry Name: Pigeon Tower, staircases, stone arches, stone screen and two gate piers in Rivington Gardens at SD 6397 1433

Listing Date: 30 January 1987

Last Amended: 6 February 2013

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1317613

English Heritage Legacy ID: 184425

Location: Rivington, Chorley, Lancashire, BL6

County: Lancashire

District: Chorley

Civil Parish: Rivington

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lancashire

Church of England Parish: Rivington

Church of England Diocese: Manchester

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Summary

A pigeon tower with associated stone staircases with flanking walls and stone arches to the west, an attached stone screen to the south, and two stone gate piers within Rivington Gardens.

Description

PLAN: A Gothic-style Pigeon House and look out of four-storeys built about 1910 by R Atkinson to a design by Thomas Mawson for Lord Leverhulme, together with associated stone staircases with flanking walls and stone arches to the west, an attached arched stone screen to the south, and two stone gate piers associated with the former Belmont Lodge. All these features are built in rock-faced gritstone with stone dressings and the Pigeon House has a steeply-pitched stone slate roof. The Pigeon House is square in plan with an attached semi-circular stair tower on its west side.

EXTERIOR: the Pigeon House has a basement entrance on its south side beneath a round-headed gateway of thin grit stone slates with a keystone of the same. The arch springs from moulded imposts above a surround of thin stone slates. There is a west buttress to first floor level. The three upper floors each have chamfered mullion windows with two lights to the first and second floors and four lights to the top floor. The elevation terminates in a plain gable. The west elevation has the attached stair turret which is stepped in its lower courses and has three loop lights under semi-circular relieving arches. The stair turret terminates in a steeply pitched roof swept over the eaves and carried around the roof in a conical form. The north elevation has a blocked arched opening on its ground floor, a west buttress to first floor level, a two light chamfered mullion window to the first floor and a four-light chamfered mullion window to the upper floor. Like the south elevation it terminates in a plain gable. The east elevation has a two-light chamfered mullion window to the second floor, above which rises a tall corbelled chimney stack flanked by small round-arched windows on either side on the upper floor beneath overhanging eaves All elevations other than the east have square pigeon holes with perching ledges.

INTERIOR: the first and second floors were bird houses while the upper floor was designed as a sitting room and look out with a fireplace in the east wall.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: flanking the Pigeon House on all sides except the east are stone staircases with low flanking walls, those on the north and south sides joining with the one on the west side which runs downhill where it turns right and terminates. Immediately to the west, on a small levelled area of ground flanked by a retaining wall, there is the remains of a former loggia consisting of a single wall constructed of thin stone slates topped by flat stone copings which contains three arches springing from moulded imposts. The central arch and the inside of the flanking arches are supported on columns of thin, stacked gritstone and the voussoirs are of thin gritstone slates.

Attached to the south east corner of the Pigeon House and running south for approximately 73 metres is a stone wall about 1 metre high and flat-topped where it abuts the Pigeon House, but about 2m high for the rest of its length and topped with alternate upright and flat stones. The wall contains six semi-circular arches with voussoirs of thin gritstone slates, and six other formerly similar arches but each blocked with a large gritstone upright flagstone within each of which are three round-arched pigeon holes.

At the south end of this wall, and running east from it at 90 degrees, is a short length is a flat-topped wall about 1m high which terminates against one of the western of two identical gate piers which formed the entrance to Belmont Lodge close to Belmont Road. The eastern gate pier is situated immediately across the former entrance drive. The gate piers are constructed of gritstone in a rustic style, are circular in plan, and stand approximately 2m tall. They are topped by a dome which sits on an overhanging course.

History

Rivington Gardens was one of a series of three major private gardens produced by Thomas Hayton Mawson (1861-1933) in collaboration with the industrialist and philanthropist William Hesketh Lever, Lord Leverhulme (1851-1925). The Rivington site was purchased by Lever in 1899 as a parcel of land which included the area now occupied by Lever Park to the west. Lever had already formulated ideas on how the grounds might be developed and in 1901 a single-storey wooden bungalow called 'Roynton Cottage' and intended for weekend visits and shooting parties was designed by Lever's school friend Jonathan Simpson. In 1905 Lever met Mawson who collaborated with him in the design of the gardens over the period 1906-22. However, others were also involved in the design including Thomas's son, Edward Prentice Mawson (1885-1954), who undertook the overall design and in the latter years was as much responsible for the project as his father, Robert Atkinson (1883-1952) who drew illustrations in the journal 'Civic Art' in 1911, and the landscape and architectural firm of James Pulham & Son who, in 1921, were responsible for a Japanese style garden and a steep and rugged ravine with waterfalls. Lever himself also influenced the gardens' layout, designing a seven-arched bridge across Roynton Lane.

In 1913 the bungalow was destroyed by fire then rebuilt on a grander scale. Following Lever's death in 1925 the house and gardens were purchased by John Magee. After Magee's death in 1939 the site was acquired by Liverpool Corporation and in 1948 the bungalow and three entrance lodges were demolished and the gardens became open to the public. In 1974 the site passed to the North West Water Authority following local government reorganisation.

The Pigeon Tower was built in about 1910 by R Atkinson to a design by Thomas Mawson. The top floor is said to have been used by Lady Lever as a sewing room, from where she enjoyed extensive views. In the lower two floors ornamental doves and pigeons were housed and additional pigeon cotes ran along the arched screen from the Pigeon Tower to the now demolished Belmont Lodge. In 1975 the Pigeon Tower, having become little more than a ruined shell, was renovated at a cost of £5000. At an unspecified date three walls of a former loggia situated to the west of the Pigeon Tower were demolished and only the south wall with three arches now survives.

Reasons for Listing

The Pigeon Tower is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architect: it is a good example of the landscape design work of Thomas Mawson;
* Architecture: the Pigeon Tower is the visual culmination of a number of the built structures at Rivington - its striking design serving its role as a landmark;

* Group value: it is one of a number of features that not only complement each other but are integral components of the designated garden.

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