Workington Hall Parklandsworkington hall

Workington Hall Parklands includes the grounds of Workington Hall, Curwen Park and Mill Field.

Situated near the centre of Workington, the parklands are popular with dog walkers, cyclists and the local community. The park is  rich in history - Mary Queen of Scots stayed with the Curwens in Workington Hall on her last night of freedom in 1568 and the Curwens themselves were a prominent family throughout the history of Cumberland.


Workington Hall Parklands is for everyone to enjoy, and won a nationally recognised Green Flag in 2013.

In the upper park, attractions and facilities include:

  • Workington Hall  - the historic Grade I listed building and Scheduled Ancient Monument
  • mature woodland with a network of paths and lots of wildlife
  • a miniature railway
  • a walled garden, formally the kitchen garden for Workington Hall 
  • the Curwen Centre (within the walled garden), currently unoccupied
  • an historic carriage way and associated features such as the Cuckoo Arch
  • a skate park at Horse Close 

In the lower park, the floodplain of the river Derwent (Curwen Park; Mill Field) there are:

  • attractive walks along the river Derwent and Mill Stream including a multi-user path (pedestrian and cycle track) 
  • the Yearl - a wear in the river Derwent at the eastern extremity of the park - a good site for watching the wildlife of the river
  • open parkland and meadows with scattered mature trees Meadows
  • tenanted grazing land
  • sports pitches
  • private houses including Curwen Lodge and Workington Hall Mill 

Just outside the park, opposite Horse Close car park, is Park End House, which was home to the Curwen's estate factor, and now the Helena Thompson Museum. The museum includes collections and displays about the Curwen family and the history of Workington.

Who is involved in the parklands?

Allerdale Borough Council

Allerdale Borough Council owns the park and maintains it in partnership with ISS Facility Services and FCC Ltd maintain Workington Hall Parklands.

The Friends of Workington Hall Parklands

The Friends of Workington Hall Parklands comprises volunteers from the community with an interest in the management and development of the park. Volunteers have helped with conservation tasks such as tree planting, habitat improvement, control of invasive plants such as Himalayan balsam and litter picks. The Friends have contributed to the Management Plan for the park and assist with the production of signage, other media and information.

If you would like to get involved please contact us through the parks department. We will keep you updated on upcoming meetings of the steering group when they are scheduled. All are welcome to attend.

The West Cumbria Guild of Model Engineers (WCGME)

The WCGME provides for and promotes interest in the manufacture and operation of model engineering in West Cumbria.

The WCGME have a permanent track in the upper park (Curwen Park) in the vicinity of the Hall for use by members at any time. There is also a portable track, locomotives and passenger carrying trucks available for use in fund raising at public events.

History of the Park

Workington Hall was home to the Curwen family from the 12th century until 1929. It was originally a coastal fortress commanding the crossing of the River Derwent and was also where Mary Queen of Scots spent her last night of freedom in 1568.

At the direction of the agricultural and industrial pioneer John Christian Curwen in the 1780s the fortress (now the Hall) was rebuilt as a mansion by architect John Carr and the parklands were laid out by the renowned landscaper Thomas White. Workington Hall Parklands and Belle Isle in Windermere (also for the Curwens) were White's last notable works in England, making these sites of historical horticultural interest for 18th century landscape design. As with the parks of many wealthy famililies the design for the Workington Hall Parklands included formal gardens, a walled garden, woodland and farmland (including a deer park) to serve for leisure and entertainment, home life, business and horticultural impact.

The park is a Grade 2 listed historic landscaped garden, and the Hall itself became a Grade I listed building in 1946 due to its historic importance.

In the 1940s, the grounds and Hall were given to the Corporation of Workington to hold for the benefit of the people of Workington. Mill Field was acquired from the Lowther estates at the same time. In 1974, the estate passed to Allerdale District Council (now Allerdale Borough Council) due to local government reorganisation.

The Hall was in use in the 1940s but by 1957 had been declared as "effectively derelict" by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. It was turned into a ruin in the 1970s after further decline.

Wildlife of the Park

The stream through Mill Field (Mill stream) is man made and sheep are a common site within Curwen Park and Mill Field due to links with the nearby Schoose Farm. Mill stream supports a variety of wildlife including Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Mallard, Moorhen, Grey Wagtail and the occasional kingfisher. Small numbers of dragon and damselflies can also be seen during the summer including Common Darter, Southern Hawker and Blue-tailed Damslefly. Butterflies can be abundant in late-summer, nectaring on thistles, knapweed and other streamside flowers, with species including Peacock, Painted Lady, Ringlet and Small Copper. Otters have also been spotted along the adjacent River Derwent and the within stream. 

The fields and surrounding rough grass are a haven for insects including several species of butterfly and a few different species of bee. Deer have been spotted in the fields on occasion and owls are known to be present in the woodland on Mill Field.

The woodland between the fields and Horse Close supports good numbers of woodland birds including Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Jay. In summer Spotted Flycatcher, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff can be seen, or more likely, heard. Great Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch, and Mistle Thrush can often be seen in the mature trees in the parkland near the Hall. Red Squirrels are more commonly spotted between the lodge on Washington Street and the Curwen Centre in the middle of the park but are also present in the woodland area near Horse Close Car Park.

Red Squirrels can also be seen in the vicinity of the Hall, especially early in the morning. This area is also good for bats, mainly in the early hours of the morning and at dusk. During the day at certain times of year the bats have been found to roost within the bark of some of the older trees in the park. For this reason you may see some trees that have been pollarded rather than removed altogether as they are providing vital habitat for these creatures. Bats also use the nooks and crannies in the Hall as a daytime roost.

If you would like to help us keep track of wildlife in the park, contact us reporting the time, date, location and species you have seen.

Park news and updates

19th -20th July: Workington Hall Parklands BioBlitzworkington hall

On 19th and 20th July 2014 Allerdale Borough Council teamed up with the Cumbria Biodiversity Data Centre and Tullie House Museum to hold a 24 hour BioBlitz in Workington Hall Parklands.

For 24 hours an enthusiastic and determined array of experts and volunteers surveyed and recorded the natural history in the park. 

The current BioBlitz species total stands at 413 (excluding genus level records and hybrids), adding 368 new species to the previous list held on the Cumbria Biodiversity Data Centre database, which stood at just 107 species. However, invertebrate specimens are still being identified (as of 12th August) so the species list is set to rise further. This is a very pleasing result and it was only made possible by some dedicated recorders spending several hours covering all corners of this large park on what was one of the wettest days of the year on the Saturday. The weather did brighten up on for the final hour on Sunday morning and many of the day-flying insects revealed themselves for the first time in the 24 hours, allowing a final flurry of recording as the clock ran down. Species highlights of the event including Old Lady Moth (Mormo maura) and Mediterranean Gull (Larus melanocephalus) amongst others. The provisional species list can be downloaded via the link below.

We'd like to give a big thank you to all who volunteered and recorded on the day as well as Allerdale Disability Association and Helena Thompson Museum for hosting the event!

The Walled Garden

Planning permission has been approved for restoring the 18th Century walled garden and grant funding is now being sought for this project. The first phase of the project involves re-building a missing section of the wall and restoring the existing wall using heritage stonemasonry techniques. If you are able to assist with funding we would like to hear from you.

The Big Garden Bird Watch

Every year in January Allerdale Borough Council invites volunteers to help us with bird surveying in Workington Hall Parklands, Siddick Ponds, Harrington Nature Reserve and Vulcan Park. If you are interested in helping, please let us know by contacting the parks department.

If you would like to get involved with conservation activities in the park please contact the parks department or email our Workington Nature Partnership Officer.

How do I get there?

By car

From the east/M6 follow directions to Workington. After you pass over the roundabouts heading into Workington on the A66, Horse Close car park is on the right hand side at the top of the rise, opposite the Helena Thomson Museum.

From the north-west follow the A596 to Workington. The park can be seen from Workington Bridge. Turn left immediately over the bridge for the Mill Field riverside area or carry on to the traffic lights on Washington Street and turn left onto A66. Horse Close Car Park is on the left hand side, opposite the Helena Thomson Museum.

From the south-west follow the A595 and then the A596 into Workington and turn right onto the A66 at the lights on Washington Street. Horse Close Car Park will be on the left hand side, just across from the Helena Thomson Museum.

The park is only a short stroll from Workington town centre and car parks.

By bus

Buses regularly run through Workington towards Seaton and Stainburn. Buses towards Seaton stop on Bridge St, and buses towards Cockermouth stop next to Horse Close.

Pedestrian access

From Bridge St, beside the Courts, the park is 100m from the main town centre shops. 

Downloadable Documents

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File nameSizeApproximate Download time
JPEG formatSantas Special - WCGME event in JPEG format423 Kb1 min 0 secs @ 56k, 2 secs @ 2mb
Microsoft Word formatManagement Plan in Word format5110 Kb12 mins 10 secs @ 56k, 21 secs @ 2mb

Get Microsoft Word ViewerDownload Microsoft Word Viewer (external website). Microsoft Word Viewer allows you to view Word documents even if you don't have Word installed on your computer.

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Contact us

0303 123 1702

Allerdale Borough Council
Allerdale House, Workington, Cumbria,
CA14 3YJ