This historic Georgian park, has an attractive parkland landscape of mature trees and garden features, to walk and relax in. It also has a bandstand, aviary, play area, BMX/skatepark, sports pitches and all-weather tennis courts run by Totally Tennis.
History and development
The 18th Century parkland, at the west end of the park, was purchased by public subscription. This was to commemorate the lives that were lost during World War I. It was originally known as Goldings Park as it was part of the land attached to the Georgian house, Goldings. Now Goldings is part of the Civic Offices campus.
The parkland was originally laid out between 1788 and 1797 as private grounds to Goldings by Frances Russell. After 100 years in the same family Goldings was auctioned in 1916 and purchased by Thomas Burberry for £10,500.
In 1921 the Corporation of Basingstoke purchased the park for £4,500. The money was raised from public subscribers to be held in perpetuity for the benefit of the town. It's a memorial to those lost in the First World War.
The Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, Major-General J E B Seely CB CMG DSO, performed the ceremony of unlocking the gate at the Hackwood Road entrance. He declared the park open for the use and enjoyment of the public.
The parkland was designed in the landscape style popular during the 18th Century. Goldings, with its gardens, orchards, greenhouses and orangery, was separated from the parkland by a ha-ha retained on the north side by brick and flint. Trees were planted to frame the main views from the house, which included the summer house or temple.
Changes to the original design
In the winter of 1920-21 the new layout for the park designed by Mr J Arther Smith FRIBA, was implemented.
A gravelled walk was constructed from the Hackwood Road entrance, with its new wrought iron gates, leading to the bandstand. The bandstand was moved to the park from the nearby Fairfields Recreation Ground in 1927. To the north of the bandstand, eight lawn tennis courts were constructed and enclosed by fencing. A path ran north from the bandstand, between the two groups of courts. It carried on over the ha-ha, alongside a bowling green and finished at the London Road entrance. At the south end of the park a shallow pond was constructed for children to paddle and sail toy boats. Seats were provided to overlook the parkland and an aviary was added in 1940.
The war memorial, designed by LF Roslyn, was erected at the London Road entrance to the park in 1923.
When the southern part of the Basingstoke ring road was built in the 1970s, part of War Memorial Park was lost. To compensate for the lost land, an area was added to the east side of the park. Football pitches, a cricket square, skatepark and the John Arlott Pavillion have been established here, together with the tennis centre.
To the east is Old Common, formerly common land, now managed as part of the War Memorial Park. In 2000, the council successfully received Heritage Lottery Funds for £382,000 as part funding for the refurbishment of the park which included:
The park is a short walk from the town area or from a bus stop in Hackwood Road. There are subways to the park from Cranbourne and Black Dam, with pathways from Riverdene and Eastrop estates.
Free parking is available at Crossborough Hill, which also has disabled parking bays. There is a disabled toilet on site at the John Arlott Pavilion and pathways throughout the park are suitable for buggies and wheelchair users.
The bank between Costello School boundary and the playing fields is left to flower and cut once in late summer. This encourages wider biodiversity and provides habitats for butterflies and moths, food for birds and cover for small mammals.
The Basingstoke Field Society carries out wildflower surveys of the area and compile records on behalf of the council. This data will be used to monitor and enhance the site's biodiversity value.
Ring of Light by Peter Freeman
To commemorate Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee, lighting artist, Peter Freeman created a 'ring of light' in the Park. This takes the form of a series of custom-made lights, which highlight the canopies of a selection of trees.
Six Stone Plaques – Alec Peever
Installed in 1995, these sandstone wedges were produced by Oxfordshire-based stonecutter, Alec Peever. Set into the walkways of the park, each is inscribed with a phrase from a poem. The artist was inspired by the 17th Century passion for viewing the landscape through a Claude Glass (a hand-held looking glass).
The park is a wonderful area to walk and take in the pleasant surroundings. There are three self-guided walks and a Tree Trail for you to follow. Each guide includes a walk summary, directions and interesting information about the features that you will pass along the way. All of these guides can be downloaded below. You can also pick up a leaflet from the council offices or the Discovery Centre.
The park hosts a variety of events throughout the year, some are organised by the council, or community organisations. Other events are jointly organised between the council and charitable organisations such as the Thornycroft Society.
The event year starts in May with the Transport Festival which is organised by volunteers from the Thornycroft Society. Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council also offers assistance with the event.
The size and layout of the park is ideal for the staging of large scale events. If you would like to use the park for your own events, please contact the events team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning 01256 845676.
Visit the events page for details about some of the larger events that take place in the borough. Take a look at the Destination Basingstoke website for details of more events. You can sign up to receive an e-newsletter featuring forthcoming and other events
There are football pitches available for hire. For booking information please visit our sports pitch bookings webpage.
A public (no membership needed) indoor and outdoor tennis centre for both juniors (3+) and adults. We run a full tennis programme for all abilities with LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) qualified coaches. For further information visit the Totally Tennis website
Skate Park and Pump Track
A dual facility including a concrete skate park and macadam pump track can be found at the rear of Totally Tennis, adjacent to the sports pitches. Designed for all ages and abilities to use.
Parkour, street fitness and outdoor gym equipment can be found near to the skate park, close to Totally Tennis, and this is free to use! This area includes a variety of kit to exercise the whole body, aimed at teenagers and adults.
Children’s Play Area
A play area for toddler and junior age children can be found in the centre of the park, providing a robust all weather play facility in muted colours to respect the historic parkland character of the park. The play facilities include a scooter track, inclusive equipment, and a number of items of kit to offer a variety of play experiences.
National cycle network
Route 23 of the National Cycle Network (you will need to click on the change map icon in the bottom right hand corner to select 'National Cycle Network') runs through the park along with other off road routes. Find out more about cycling in the borough.
The Management Plan sets out guidelines for the future management of the park. This is to ensure a co-ordinated approach to achieve a common vision.
The Plan provides an integrated approach to the maintenance and management of War Memorial Park. It aims to ensure a high quality space which is:
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