Many Waters - Restoring a Mawson Landscape

Many Waters is a complex and little-known Wealden gill valley on a private estate with features ranging from Mesolithic sites preserved beneath sandrock cliffs to Edwardian ponds and cascades. By the 1870s it was a pleasure farm with picturesque planting. At the turn of the century it was developed by Thomas Mawson, in a manner reminiscent of his Lake District designs. Arts-and-Crafts gardens overlook spectacular rock terraces. These lead to a woodland valley garden structured by clusters of conifers that span the whole 80ha of the site.

ACTA is preparing a conservation management plan which teases out a landscape structure based on complex sequences of views. It sets out the significances and conflicting requirements of the designed and natural landscapes. Restoration of the water features designed and built by James Pulham and Sons, eradication of rhododendron from key areas and reconstructing the historic routes through the site are central to the proposals

The design is based around an axis which extends from the house downhill through ponds created from modified millponds to distant groups of Wellingtonias

The sandrock cliffs sheltered prehistoric occupation. Nationally significant lower plants subsequently colonised the rocks which later became a picturesque landscape. Management has to reconcile these interests