SD4861 : Lancaster - Williamson Park - The Palm House
near to Lancaster, Lancashire, Great Britain
Williamson Park in north Lancaster was created on the site of several disused stone quarries. It was first laid out in 1877 and built between 1879 and 1891 for James Williamson, an alderman of Lancaster and a very successful local linoleum manufacturer. The development of the park was continued by his son, also called James, who became the first Baron Ashton who added the park's crowning glory the Ashton Memorial.The landscaper was John Maclean of Castle Donington. In the 1990s the park was extended by the addition of land on Fenham Carr, previously part of the Lancaster Moor Hospital Estate, such that it now extends to 54 acres (21.7ha).
The creation of the park provided much-needed work for the local population that had been hit hard by the "cotton famine" itself a result of the American Civil War.
The park today contains woodland, gardens and lakes and is a beautiful setting for the dramatic Ashton Memorial (see separate description) which rises on a hill in the midst of the park. Entry to the park and the ground floor of the memorial is free, with a small charge (50p in 2012) to climb to the viewing gallery of the memorial.
The Ashton Memorial was built between 1907 and 1909 when it opened on the 24th October. The archicect was John Belcher who created this lavish folly in the Edwardian Baroque style, while the sculptures are by Herbert Hampton.
It was built for James Williamson, 1st Baron Ashton, a highly successful local businessman as a memorial to his second wife, Jess, who had died in 1904.
With his father (also called James) he had previously created Williamson Park (see separate description) in which the memorial stands upon a hill as an unmissable focal point. It cost over £80,000 to build, some £4.5m in equivalent (2012) terms.
It stands approximately 150' (45m) tall, but already elevated by the hill on which it sits, so that it can be seen for miles around Lancaster, and offers superb views of the surrounding countryside from its viewing galleries.
It is built of Portland Stone, the favoured stone of grand Victorian buildings to be found in all the great cities of the Victorian age and beyond (this memorial for example dating from Edward VII's reign). The green dome is copper which has naturally acquired the green protective coating of verdigris (a complex of copper carbonate, chloride and sometimes, acetate). The grand staircase leading up to the monument is made from hard-wearing Cornish granite.
The monument was damaged by fire in 1961 and continued to decline such that by 1981 it had to close to the public. Thankfully private donations and public grants meant that this dramatic building was restored, and it reopened in 1988. As well as being a visitor attraction in its own right, it now also houses exhibitions and can be hired for weddings and other functions.
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- Grid Square
- SD4861, 214 images (more nearby)
- Rob Farrow (find more nearby)
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- Date Taken
- Wednesday, 29 August, 2012 (more nearby)
- Wednesday, 5 September, 2012
- Geographical Context
- Place (from Tags)
- Subject Location
OSGB36: SD 4894 6133 [10m precision]
WGS84: 54:2.7238N 2:46.8766W
- Photographer Location
- OSGB36: SD 4891 6131
- View Direction
- East-northeast (about 67 degrees)
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