Thomas
Mawson

The Art & Craft
of Garden
Making

Thomas Mawson was born in Scorton, near Lancaster in 1861. Like Sir Hubert von Herkomer, he came from humble beginnings, but his passion for the landscape would take him far and wide although his heart was always in the Lake District, where he lived for most of his life.

He was a keen gardener from an early age. Having left school at
the age of 12, he learnt technical drawing and worked for nurseries in London. He met his wife, Anna Prentice, in London and moved back to the Lake District in 1885 to set up a nursery and landscaping business with his two brothers. From then on his family was always involved in the business.

Mawson was a popular landscape architect during Edwardian times. His contemporaries included Gertrude Jekyll, Edwin Lutyens and Harold Peto. Many examples of his work are in the Lake District where he designed gardens around grand houses.

 

He believed when designing a house and garden one must complement the other. His style was to design formally around the house and informally around the perimeter. Formal features include a terrace next to the house, stonework, pergolas, ornamental lawns and herbaceous borders, sweeping steps, stylish seats and garden ornaments.

 

More informal features would include meandering
paths, shrub beds and tree planting. Mawson believed in
good craftsmanship and preferred to use local materials
in his designs.

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Portrait of Thomas Mawson painted by Sir Hubert von Herkomer in exchange for designing the Rose Garden (courtesy of the Mawson family)

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Mawson designed the gardens of Graythwaite in the
Lake District between 1889 and 1905

Not only did Mawson design gardens and garden furniture, but public parks and houses as well. With the help of his sons he also drew up town and housing estate plans.

 

His projects took him around the world to America, Canada, Denmark, Germany and Greece. Towards the end of his career he went on lecture tours and taught landscape design at the University of Liverpool, the first course of its kind.


During his career, he designed more than 200 gardens, 25 parks and 30 town planning projects. In 1929 he became the President of the Landscape Institute. Mawson had many famous clients including Sir Hubert von Herkomer, Lord Leverhulme (of ‘Sunlight soap’) as well as kings, dukes, lords and viscounts.Mawson died in 1933.

 

He wrote a number of books including ‘the Art and Craft of GardenMaking’ which was a very useful reference for us to design the Rose Temple, seating, paving and flower beds you see here in
the garden today.