Historic parks and gardens

Since the 1980s, English Heritage has maintained a national record of historic parks and gardens. This record, known as the Register of Parks and Gardens of special historic interest in England, contains nearly 1,450 sites of national importance. Parks and open spaces play a vital role in the lives of Wirral residents. The borough has 4 landscapes included on the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.

  • Birkenhead Park
  • Thornton Manor
  • Flaybrick Memorial Gardens
  • Port Sunlight

Who decides to include a park or garden on the national register, and why?
Of the many parks and gardens throughout England, which are of historic value, a small number are considered to be sufficiently important to be worth including in the National Register of Parks and Gardens of special historic interest in England. The decision, whether a park or garden merits registration, is based on an assessment by English Heritage, whether it can be said to be of "special historic interest".

What makes a park or garden of ‘historic interest’?
As a general rule, English Heritage considers all parks or gardens over 30 years old to be "historic". However, just being over 30 years old does not, in itself, make a park or garden of special historic interest.

Whether or not a site merits national recognition, through registration, will depend primarily upon the age of its main layout and features, its rarity as an example of historic landscape design and the quality of the landscaping.

For a garden, this will usually include the basic pattern of its layout which might, for example, be formal with terraces, straight walks and hedges, formal pools and canals, or informal with winding paths through lawns, rockwork, and informally planted trees and shrubberies.

For a park, it may include the historic boundaries and entrances, the routes of the approach drives and rides, the siting of the main buildings, the underlying landform, built features which provide structure and focal points in the design, lakes and rivers, and the planting of parkland trees, clumps, shelter belts and woodland.

How are parks and gardens of historic interest graded?
There are currently nearly 1,450 sites included in the register, divided into three grade bands, to give added guidance on their significance.

Most of the sites, identified through the register as being of a sufficiently high level of interest to merit a national designation, are grade II. Some sites, however, are recognised as being of even higher value. About 30 per cent of the 1,450 are considered to be of exceptional historic interest and are awarded a star giving them grade II* status. A further 10 per cent are of international importance, and are classified as grade I.

What are the criteria for registration?
English Heritage registers only those sites which it considers to be of special historic interest. As a guide to the level of historic interest required to make a site "special", nine criteria have been drawn up, against which assessment and decisions are made, whether to register a site. More information on the nine criteria can be found in the English Heritage Website.

Can I get a historic park or garden entered into the national register?
If you own, have an interest in, or are concerned about a park or garden, which you know is of particular historic interest, and think it should be considered for registration, contact English Heritage. Details about how to request registration can be found on the English Heritage Website.