There are many pools that surround the Patshull estate, and they’re immediately evident when arriving at the hotel as you drive over the historic bridge (below).  But are the Patshull pools natural or are they man-made?

The history of the Patshull estate

Soon after buying the estate from the Astley family in 1766, Lord Pigot began extensive landscaping of the park, and it seems likely that his Huntingdonshire neighbour Lancelot (Capability) Brown was consulted at this point. By 1768 the southern end of the Great Pool, which may incorporate an earlier millpool, had been begun.

The work was continued by Sir Robert Pigot (died 1796) and by his son George; by the end of the century they had extended the pool is on either side of the house to form a Y-shaped lake. The landscaping extended into Pattingham parish with a cascade and an eel trap on Pasford brook.

The Doric temple (now the hotel reception) was built on the west side of the lake. The woodland was thinned both to remove formal clumps and to create ’judicious openings’.

Modern day discoveries

In 1976 the lower part of the Church Pool was emptied preparatory to cleaning and restocking with fish, and this enabled one to visualise more clearly the shallow valley that existed before the dam carrying the carriage drive was constructed.  This little valley must have continued into what is now part of the Great Pool. From a study of old maps one gets the impression that the Church Pool was made before the Great Pool: it is fed from springs by a small stream which flows between Lea Hall and Lea Farm to the north; the stream runs under the walled garden and under a rather fine balustraded bridge called Monkey Bridge (above) before entering the lake.

At the south end of the pool is a large round well, which while maintaining the level of Church Pool, allows water to escape under the road into the Great Pool. During the clearing operations in 1976, a series of three rectangular brick enclosures, each 30 ft.², was disclosed in the slope between Church Pool and Great Pool. They are arranged one above the other, with provision for running water; they are fish ‘stews’, designed for the raising of young fish.

The construction of the Great Pool at Patshull must rank as one of the major essays in landscape design in South Staffordshire. It seems likely that most of the work was done before 1775. John Roque’s map of 1752 shows only a rudimentary lake at Patshull, but a ‘Map of the county of Stafford’ By William Yates, began in 1769 and finished in 1775 shows both the Church Pool and the Great Pool albeit somewhat crudely. The second edition of this map, dated August 1798, shows the two pools much as they appear today.

The Great Lake dam

A study of the terrain suggests that the great pool was formed by damning a two-pronged, steep sided valley of the sort so frequently found in this sandstone district.  A tremendous dam was thrown across that part of the valley common to the main pool and its curved tail – the eastern arm to form the Great Pool proper, and the much smaller western arm to form the curved tail of the Y.  By local standards and standards of the time, the dam is remarkable. Its size can be appreciated only by approaching it from the direction of Pasford Farm.  It’s width is very great, for it carries the full sized highway which links Pattingham and Ackleton. The area of the great pool is about 100 acres and the level of the water is approximately 230 feet above sea level.

Interested in more Patshull history blogs?

We hope that you’re as interested in the history of Patshull Park as we are, and we love to share the information that we learn.  There are new findings coming up all the time and we’re always excited to write about what we know.  Here are some more blog posts that we’ve written.  Check out our History page too!