Blackwell historic house from the terraces

A Lakeland Retreat

When the railway came to Windermere in 1847, the industrial barons of Liverpool and Manchester found that the Lake District was practically on their doorsteps. Sir Edward Holt, who owned a prosperous brewery in Manchester and stood twice as the city’s Lord Mayor, was among those who secured a site for his family’s holiday home in this fashionable area and commissioned a rising Arts & Crafts architect, MH Baillie Scott to do justice to the location.

Blackwell House sits proudly above Lake Windermere, Cumbria but instead of facing the Lake, the principal rooms used by the family are south facing in order to capture as much sun as possible throughout the day.

Outside, garden terraces with formal planting are found close to the Arts & Crafts house where the colours and fragrances can be appreciated. In the Holt family’s time the south lawn was used for croquet and the lower lawn was two grass tennis courts. A ‘Ha Ha’ is used on the south lawn to avoid forming a visual boundary between the garden and the views beyond. Trees were carefully sited in the fields owned by the Holt family (now privately owned) in order that the surrounding beauty of the wider landscape could become an extended garden.

The historic house itself makes a strong statement. It is asymmetrical in design and the gables of the first floor rooms form a complicated roof profile. Influences from local vernacular architecture are evident in the tall round chimneys and the use of local slate and sandstone. Rain water is channelled along grooves into ornate lead downspouts, some of which display the initials of Sir Edward Holt.

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  • Blackwell from the lower terrace