There were several reasons for the decision to incorporate a labyrinth into the gardens at Holker. Firstly, a curiosity about Labyrinths, their uses, their origins and their symbolism. They are of particular interest in the fact that they emerge from the mists of ancient history to find universal interpretation. From early mythology to the present day they have been used in a myriad of different ways varying from dance tradition to magic, from battle formations to fertility rites and they have been incorporated in various forms into all major world religions. Their designs are interesting and aesthetically pleasing and it was felt that by incorporating a labyrinth into the wild flower meadow it could act as a link between the formal gardens at Holker, the parkland and the natural landscape beyond. It was important to site it in a position that was peaceful; neither too exposed nor enclosed, so it is set against a backdrop of the gardens and ancient parkland trees with views of the lake hills and, in winter, glimpses of the bay.
To construct a labyrinth involves complicated and meticulous calculations and the designer Jim Buchanan, who has designed labyrinths in many different countries, was commissioned to help with the Holker labyrinth. He worked together with Grania Cavendish in planning the layout which was inspired by a design taken from a Hindu temple in northern India with the addition of a slightly raised asymmetrical centre and the twelve slate monoliths which echo the Cumbrian tradition of stone circles.
As with so much at Holker, local materials have been utilised; in this case, the slate monoliths, the stone seats and the dressing on the pathways come from Holker Estate’s Burlington quarry at Kirkby-in-Furness.
Labyrinths are of enormous interest and can be interpreted and used in innumerable different ways. With the increasing number of visitors to Holker we wanted to create an addition to the gardens that would provide a peaceful place for reflection, that would be aesthetically pleasing and of interest and curiosity to as wide a range of our visitors as possible. It is also hoped that visitors who take time to walk the labyrinth will benefit from, and enjoy their experience.
Following the Government guidance, we are happy to confirm our 2021 season dates as follows:
Wednesday 31st March - Gardens & Cafe open. Please note the Cafe will be running a takeaway service only.
Wednesday 14th April - Gift Shop open and outside seating available in the courtyard.
Wednesday 19th May - Indoor & outdoor seating available in the courtyard and Cafe.
Wednesday 23rd June - Hall opens for hourly guided tours.