Knowle Hill

Near Ticknall, Derbyshire

Overview

A woodland retreat with a pretty Gothick summerhouse, in an early Picturesque landscape of great distinction.

  • Dogs AllowedDogs Allowed
  • CotCot
  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • Parking AvailableParking Available
  • Bath with ShowerBath with Shower
  • DishwasherDishwasher
  • Outside Dining FurnitureOutside Dining Furniture
  • MicrowaveMicrowave
  • RemoteRemote

Beds 1 Single, 1 Twin, 1 Double

Sleeps
5
4 nights from
£287 equivalent to £14.35 per person, per night

A glimpse of water tumbling over a cascade

Knowle Hill's remote position down a long gated farm track deterred most would-be rescuers, but we have repaired the cottage for you to stay in with the summerhouse as your drawing room. It opens onto a sunny lawn with a view into the woods beyond and, if you are lucky, a glimpse of water tumbling over a cascade. 

Picturesque it most certainly is, though parents will want to keep a close eye on small children because of the steep drops and the stream in the ravine below. Beautiful walks meander down wooded paths from a terraced lawn, with views across the treetops from the cottage itself.

A garden that blends with the natural landscape

In 1698 Walter Burnett retired from the Middle Temple. On land leased from his friend he built for himself a curious house on the side of a ravine. Here he entertained his many friends and round it he exploited the natural setting to create a garden which, for all its formal structure of terraces and pools, blends with the natural landscape – remarkable for that early date.

In the 1760s the house was pulled down by Walter’s great-nephew, but the atmosphere of a woodland retreat was preserved and so was a tunnel leading from the cellars to a mysterious rock-cut chamber. A Gothick summerhouse, which soars like a ruined castle on the valley’s edge, was built on an upper terrace with a cottage for a custodian behind. Until the garden was abandoned in the 20th century, parties came here often to enjoy the picturesque delights of the trees and water. 

‘ Midnight in the cave! Go down there if you dare.’

‘ A wonderful, curious building.’

From the logbook

Floor Plan

Map & local info

Knowle Hill, near the small village of Ticknall, is just a short distance from the "un-stately home and estate" Calke Abbey. The faded glory of the house, stables and gardens gives fascinating and enlightening insight into the dramatic decline of country houses during the 20th century. 

Catton Hall, in sharp contrast, has been the private home of the same family for 600 years and still going strong. Seasoned Cookery School is based at Catton Hall, and you can book onto a huge variety of different courses throughout the year, with various TV chefs teaching some of them. Bearded Theory Festival is held in the grounds of Catton Hall every year. 

The historic market town of Melbourne is only a few miles away, and is worth visiting for its splendid Norman church and its many other listed buildings, including the Grade II* listed Melbourne Hall with its impressive formal gardens.

Look out for visiting choirs to Derby Cathedral throughout the year.

Close by is the Derby Museum and Art Gallery and Pickford's House Museum. You can gain free entry to it with a National Art Pass, which enables its 122,000 holders to enjoy free and discounted entry to over 225 museums, galleries and historic houses throughout the UK. The pass is presented by one of Landmark's partners, the Art Fund, the national fundraising charity for art, which has been supporting museums and galleries for over 110 years by helping them to buy and display great works of art for everyone to enjoy. Income raised through the National Art Pass goes straight back into their charitable programme. Find more about it on the ArtFund's website http://www.artfund.org/ 

For more information and ideas for things to do during you stay at Knowle Hill, take a look at our Pinterest Map.

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.

Knowle Hill
Near Ticknall, Derbyshire
Clear directions
FAQs

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

    Yes.
  • How is the property accessed?

    Via long track.
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    Derby – 9.5 miles.
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    Yes – there is parking for two or three cars about 15m from the entrance.
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    There is gas central and a solid fuel stove. The summerhouse has under floor electric heating and its own solid fuel stove.
  • How can I get fuel for the open fire or stove?

    Unfortunately, there is currently no arrangement for the purchase and delivery of fuel, however details of local sources will be provided with your order confirmation.
  • What are the kitchen facilities?

    The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc. There is also an electric cooker, dishwasher and microwave.
  • What are the bathroom facilities?

    There is one bathroom with a shower over the bath. There is an additional wc.
  • Does this Landmark have steep, narrow or spiral stairs?

    The stairs are steep.
  • Is there a garden or outside space?

    There is an enclosed garden. There are a number of steps down to the courtyard and also down to the historic garden below the house. Care should be taken as the steps to the rock-cut chamber can be wet and slippery. A public footpath runs close past the front of the house.
  • Are any rooms outside the main accommodation?

    Yes, you will need to cross the courtyard to access the summerhouse from the main house.
  • Is there higher than expected background noise?

    Yes, Knowle Hill is occasionally in the flightpath for the East Midlands Airport. Flying activity varies from day to day and only rarely causes disturbance for guests.

    Booking and Payment

  • What happens if I can’t get to the Landmark due to bad weather?

    If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a booking.
  • How can I pay?

    We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • How do I create an account?

    If you have not used the Landmark online booking facility before and you wish to register in advance, you can set up an on-line account by following the instructions below:

    Go to the Landmark home page and click on Gift shop (located at the top of the home page in red).

    Select a gift (e.g. Landmark Handbook or Anniversary Mug) and complete the ‘Amount required’ box. There is no need to complete the purchase but this step is necessary in order to bring up the registration page.

    Click ‘Next Step’ at the bottom of the page.

    This will bring you to the ‘Your details’ page.

    Please complete all the fields (name, address, contact details and create an account). Click on the green ‘Create Account’ button once you have finished.

    At the top of the page headed ‘Your details’ there will be a grey box saying ‘Signed in’ and underneath this it will say ‘you are currently signed in as ….

    Here you will also have the option to ‘Sign out’. Please do so and that is your registration completed.

    Please return to the Landmark home page.

    To check your registration or update your account details at any time please ‘Sign in’ using the icon in the top right-hand corner of the home page.

    If you experience any problems in registering or setting up your on-line account please contact webmaster@landmarktrust.org.uk.
  • How do I pick up the key?

    There are various arrangements for picking up keys. To arrange to get into the Landmark, please contact the housekeeper at least two days before your stay
  • Can I pay a deposit?

    If your stay starts more than three months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • How can I cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • What if I arrive late?

    Please let the housekeeper know if you are going to arrive late and s/he will leave a key for you in a suitable place.
  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • Do you have to be a member to book a Landmark?

    No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • Do I need a Handbook to be able to book?

    No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!

    Staying at a Landmark

  • Are Landmarks accessible for people with disabilities or limited mobility?

    Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.
  • Are Landmarks only available as self-catering accommodation?

    Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Do you provide catering?

    Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • Do you allow dogs?

    You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control.
  • Can I bring a pet?

    Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • Am I insured if I break something?

    We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Are Landmarks suitable for children?

    Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Can I get married in a Landmark?

    Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • Can I hold a big party in a Landmark?

    All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • Are there televisions in the buildings?

    We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • Why are your access tracks sometimes difficult?

    One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Will there be sockets for my electrical appliances?

    Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s). If you are visiting one of our European properties we have standard European electricity sockets. If you are visting from the UK, you will need to bring your own adapter plug (s).
History

A fragment of something once larger and finer

Like many properties rescued by the Landmark Trust, Knowle Hill is a fragment, an intriguing memory of something once larger and finer. The fragment here is not just of a building, but also of a most interesting garden. Historical and archaeological research show that in the two converging valleys which make up Knowle Hill we have the remains of a garden created around 1700, which has undergone little structural alteration since 1770.

In 1686 Walter Burdett, a younger son of the neighbouring estate of Foremark, rented 45 acres of land called Knowle Hills from the Cokes of Melbourne. Burdett was a barrister practising in London who retired to the country after his father's death in 1696. In 1701, he moved into a new house he had built for himself at Knowle Hill, on the western side of a little valley. Round his house, Walter formed a garden. Its character was Italian, an unusual choice for that period. The natural landscape was allowed to blend evocatively with the more formal layout of terraces and pools, to conjure up an Elysian world in miniature. Walter emerges from letters as a likeable and sociable person, entertaining a constant stream of visitors. Among them were Thomas Coke of Melbourne, whose guardian he had been, along with his own family and neighbours such as the Curzons, the Harpurs of Calke and Lord Chesterfield from Bretby.

On his death in 1732 Walter Burdett left Knowle Hill to his niece, Jane Hopegood. She sold it soon after to a young man named Nicholas Hardinge, who had local connections but worked in London, where he was Clerk to the House of Commons. Until his death in 1758 he used Knowle Hill as a retreat, and wrote long poems praising its idyllic qualities. Then, in 1766, Knowle Hill was bought by Walter's great-nephew, Sir Robert Burdett of Foremark. From 1759-63, he had rented it from Mrs Hardinge and lived there with his family while Foremark was rebuilt. Now, however, he demolished the house. In its place, possibly over some former stables, he built a custodian's cottage and a gothic summerhouse, which soared like a ruined castle on the valley's edge. Walter’s house, which rose up the slope from the valley floor, and apparently resembled an Italianate structure of terraces and steps, with a mysterious rock-cut chamber in its midst, was left as an intriguing classical ruin. Knowle Hill was now a pleasure garden, to be visited for picnics and other light-hearted excursions. In the 19th century it became a popular resort for people from nearby towns. The sense of mystery and decay was strong, but attractively so.

When Knowle Hill was first suggested to the Landmark Trust in 1987, decay had gone nearly to the limits of destruction, to the concern of many local people. The two wooded valleys had been leased to the Forestry Commission in about 1950. The surrounding land was later sold to a neighbouring farmer, along with two pools in the valleys.

Finally in 1982  the buildings, which had scarcely been lived in since 1958, were sold to a private owner but remained for the most part empty, growing ever more ruinous. Knowle Hill was not forgotten, however. Alerted by local conservationists, Landmark began negotiations to reunite the property. Buildings and pools were acquired in 1989 and the woods followed in 1993, when the felling of conifers suddenly allowed the central area of the garden to be appreciated as a whole for the first time. By then, repairs to the buildings were well underway and at Easter 1994, the first visitors arrived to stay in this most secluded place.

Restoration

All the buildings were ruinous

The brick buildings around the walled courtyard were mainly built by Sir Robert Burdett in 1769, but contain fragments of Walter Burdett's earlier buildings. The lower range on the east has been much reduced in size, firstly around 1900 and again, in 1992-4, by Landmark. The two-storeyed west range may have started as a single storey building, open-fronted, perhaps a stable of about 1700. The spaces between the timber posts were filled in with brick when the cottage was added above in 1769.

 

When Landmark took on Knowle Hill all the buildings were ruinous and the summerhouse range was falling into the valley. Some hard decisions had to be taken, since the cost of repairing everything would have been huge. Farm buildings on the north side of the courtyard were no longer needed so these were clear candidates for demolition, leaving just one gable. The northern rooms of the summerhouse were even sadder to part with. They had original Gothick windows and contributed to the picturesque outline of the building. However, if Knowle Hill was to survive at all, and be repaired at a reasonable cost, these too had to go. Even so, complicated structural engineering was needed to hold the outer wall securely in place.

The cottage now contains most of the Landmark accommodation for five people. Water and electricity had to be brought in and a kitchen and bathroom provided. The repairs were carried out in as careful and conservative a way as possible, to preserve the character of the rooms, with their small fireplaces and casement windows. The glass in these windows is new. On the east is what remains of Sir Robert's summerhouse. Until about 1900, when it was re-roofed, this range was considerably taller, rising in the centre to a tower. This and a crenellated parapet gave the summerhouse its dramatic profile from below. A photograph of c.1880 enabled the parapet and part of the tower to be reinstated in 1994.

Inside the summerhouse, stone steps lead down to two rooms on a terrace cut out of the side of the hill. Their outer walls are stone and they are lit by windows which have been altered to give them Gothick heads. North of these rooms is an open terrace, with shallow niches in its inner retaining wall. This terrace belongs to the 1700 garden layout. The rooms at its end may be the remains of a gazebo inside which a flight of steps led up to the main terrace. The main room of the summerhouse is the garden room, now the sitting room for the Landmark, called Pemik's Room after the benefactor who enabled its repair. Although derelict, enough detail survived of joinery and plasterwork to allow the new work to be copied from it. The extent to which the range has subsided can be seen by comparing the levels of the dado rail either side of the garden door. The window in the outer wall is new, but the colour on the walls is copied from traces of the old paint.

The restoration was carried out under the supervision of Rodney Melville and Partners of Leamington Spa, with the work being done by the Derbyshire building firm, Edward Wood & Son. The foreman was Bill Hickinbottom.

The repair of the garden and its surviving structures remains an ongoing project when funds permit.

The two valleys now owned by Landmark formed the heart of Walter Burdett's garden. The planned landscape was once larger however, running from the wood to the south called Gorsey Ley, round the western skyline to Seven Spouts (embracing the Knoll which gives the place its name). An exploration of this perimeter is well worthwhile, particularly the embankment forming one edge of a great canal and duck decoy on the edge of Gorsey Ley, but for present purposes, only the main circular walk at the centre will be described.

Walter's guests would have arrived by carriage up a gently graded drive, which leaves Warswick Lane where the two valleys meet. When Knowle Hill became a detached pleasure garden for Foremark Hall, the approach seems to have been changed to the one used now, from Seven Spouts, to which a ride led from Foremark.

Whether before 1770 or after you are soon drawn to the south, to the lawn onto which Sir Robert's pretty garden room opens. This broad main terrace is supported by a substantial wall and from it the best views of the Trent valley could once be enjoyed. At its southern end there may have been a small grotto in an alcove where the ground rises to close the view, with steps leading up to a bower of pleached limes and a seat. To the left of the alcove the visitor could glimpse, in the distance, a flash of white water on a cascade at the head of the valley. From this water tumbled down a rill between grassy banks to the valley floor.

Drawn towards the cascade you find yourself on a walk up the valley going past the alcove with the ground falling away on the left. On the right the ground rises to an upper terrace. This is nearly as broad as the main terrace, with a stone wall on its outside and lines of trees on both inner and outer edges. It was until recently known as the Pleasure Ground and formed an alternative place to stroll and enjoy the view. Continuing along the narrow main walk, above the rill, you are soon beside the cascade, at the edge of a rectangular pool. From the higher ground on the right, early visitors would have glimpsed a little building at the far end in the opposite corner. To reach it they followed the walk along the western side of the pool, enjoying the still water fringed by alders. At the far end a raised platform allows a view in reverse, back down the valley towards the house. The little building seen before stood over the stream which enters the pool at its south-east corner. Possibly a pavilion, for shelter, it may also have contained apparatus for holding back water, allowing it to be released on special occasions to make a good show on the cascade.

A bridge over the stream tempted visitors across it and the agile can still follow the same route; to walk down the eastern side of the pool enjoying a new set of views down the valley. This walk ends in a promontory level with the lawn, giving a fine prospect of the buildings on the opposite bank. There may once have been steps down the bank, beside what seems to have been a wall spanning the valley at this point, but now, undergrowth permitting, you have to slither to the valley floor, before walking northwards along it. From here you can enjoy to the full the dramatic effect of the Gothick summerhouse. Beyond and below it is the Italianate terrace which was, it seems, part of Walter's house. The tumble of brick and stone in front formed service rooms, from which steps led up to where a tunnel runs into the hill. For special guests, candles were placed in the niches at the sides of this tunnel, and in the circular chamber at its end. Here a rock-cut seat allows you to pause and enjoy the excitement of all underground places, and the meditations they give rise to.

Refreshed by this interlude, you may continue down the valley, choosing to walk along the bottom, or at a slightly higher level on a terrace possibly once edged with yews. As you near the end of the walk, the sound of water is heard again. You soon find yourself on a small embankment, below which the water once tumbled over another cascade, before flowing on towards the Trent.

Here again you have a choice. You can return to the house up Walter's carriage drive or, attracted perhaps by a louder sound of water from the adjoining Seven Spouts valley, you can turn your back on the Trent. Here you must imagine a walk cut through the wood, running uphill in a south-westerly direction. After a few minutes, a waterfall is glimpsed between the trees, and before long you are standing beside a ruined basin, into which a shute of water falls. Admiration having duly been expressed, you are naturally drawn to see what lies above. Once, you could make your way up the bank by steps, by now you must scramble, to find yourself by another rectangular sheet of water fringed by trees. In the corner to your left stands a fine beech tree, the direct successor of one admired by visitors in the 18th century.

Beyond it, you may then have noticed with relief, another bower or pavilion placed on a buttressed platform projecting into the south-east corner of the pool. Wearied by the walk uphill, you could gratefully rest for a few moments, your need anticipated by the gardener's art. The energetic might then feel tempted to walk up to the top of the knoll, site of a supposed ancient burial mound. From there the Trent valley spreads into the eastern distance, while behind your eye can follow the line of trees planted on the western horizon to define the limits of Walter Burdett's small Arcadia, to the heart of which you can now return.

Availability & booking

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.