The Leasowes is a manmade  landscape which dates back to the 1700’s….

It was designed and created by poet William Shenstone between 1743 and 1763. The heritage of The Leasowes is highly rated and, now Grade 1 listed, is compared to the likes of prestigious landscapes such as Blenheim and Stow.

Although not perhaps originally ‘planned’, over a period of twenty years, Shenstone’s ideas developed into a  landscape designed to produce a visual and sensory experience. This style of landscape gardening has national and international significance for being one of the first examples of the ‘Picturesque English Landscape Movement’, marking a departure from the formality of earlier centuries.

Shenstone’s house, that once stood on the site, was demolished and a new house, now Grade I listed, was built in 1776 along with several other buildings, including a Stable block and a ruined Priory, which survived until the 1960s. A Walled Kitchen garden was also built at the same time as the house and still exists today, now owned and maintained by the Halesowen Abbey Trust.

During its almost 300 year lifespan, the fortunes of the site have waxed and waned, but its most treasured hidden gem, Virgil’s Grove and other aspects of the site (like The Cascades) were returned to their former glory when £1.3 million of Heritage Lottery Funding brought the site back to life.

 

One of the main features of The Leasowes is the ‘Circuit’ a circular walk that guided visitors through the landscape, presenting features and views to their best effect. The circuit was documented by Robert Dodsley, published in 1765. A Description of THE LEASOWES, The Seat of the late William Shenstone Esq.

Sections of the original Shenstone circuit walk remain, but many of Shenstone’s original trees have gone. The most dramatic change to the landscape, however, was the construction of the Dudley No.2 canal. When opened in 1797, it had reduced the extent of Priory Pool and blocked views from it across Halesowen.