|HCC Site ID:||1745||Parish:||Gosport|
|Access:||Public Access||Ownership:||Gosport Borough Council|
Location and site
Foster Gardens is a small park in Alverstoke, at the southern end of the Gosport peninsula. It is situated close to the junction of Anglesey Road and Foster Road, two busy main roads, in the heart of a post-war low density residential area. There is another small park, Anglesey Gardens, to the east. The site is fairly self-contained with the boundary planting screening views out of the site.
In 1832 the site now known as Foster Gardens, situated at the head of Oyster Pool Lake, may have been common land or have belonged to the Church. On the 1841 tithe map the areas numbered 745 and 746, described as a slip and a meadow, were owned by W. Carter and F. H. Richard and occupied by J. Collis Langtry. On an 1882 map of Alverstoke, this marshy water area was known as King’s Bottom, and on the OS 1:2500 1898 map Foster Road first appears. Anglesey Road appears on a town map of Gosport dated 1920. Sometime after 1920, Anglesey Gardens was constructed including a large rectangular pond, and the site of Foster Gardens was probably drained at this time. By 1932 the site for Foster Gardens was clearly defined. The land at this time was owned by Mr A W. Nicholson, the youngest son of Benjamin Nicholson JP and head of the world-famous shipbuilding firm, Camper & Nicholson. Mr A W. Nicholson carried on the business with his brothers. He and his family lived in Anglesey Lodge, Gosport. In 1933, Mr Nicholson gave the land (now Foster Gardens) to the Gosport Borough Council. The Borough Engineer submitted plans for the layout of the gardens; these were accepted and carried out at a cost of £1,300. In June 1934 the Gosport Council decided to name the gardens Foster Gardens – presumably because of their proximity to Foster Road. It was thought that Foster Road was named after Major Montague R. W. Foster who owned land in Alverstoke and was a County Councillor. He came from the well-known Stubbington family who lived at Stubbington House, near Fareham, which was a local school. He became Headmaster after his father retired (1996 HGT research). The revised OS 25″ map of 1936 shows a circular pond at the centre of the gardens with four paths leading off at right angles to each other to a circular path round the garden, from which lead paths to the three entrances to the park. Each of the four paths end in a bay. By 1996 the park had undergone no significant changes and was on the whole well-maintained: the pond was flanked by two pergolas of wood and stone at either side, but with no climbers on them; in each of the four sections there were flower beds set in the grass, and four seats set in stone alcoves. A range of mature trees and shrubs – ornamental maple, magnolia, weeping willow, rhododendrons and pyracantha were noted – screened the boundaries of the park. A thatched shelter shown on a postcard of c1955 was no longer there, and there was minor damage to the stones round the pond and the slates on one pergola (1996 HGT research). Some time around 2008, the perimeter planting was radically altered due to the old shrubs becoming overly large and dense, preventing clear sightlines from the roadside footpaths and leading to anti-social behaviours. The new planting scheme consisted of many Mediterranean plants as well as others from California, New Zealand and other warm, dry countries, designed to give the shrub beds an exotic appearance mixed with the existing trees. The flower beds continued to be planted with colourful annual bedding schemes to enhance the attractiveness of the gardens and make a good backdrop for wedding photographs (Gosport BC online 2013).
Today Foster Gardens is still recognisable from its original plan and is overall well-maintained: the specimen trees, including magnolia, maples and weeping willow, are in good condition, as are the herbaceous and bedding displays. Some of the shrub planting in the small rockery areas – acer, fatsia japonica and pittisporum – seem to be less happy. The pergolas are now well-clothed with climbing roses, which are planted in small stone planters added at each pillar base; these were absent in 1996. The four stone or concrete bays/alcoves at the end of the four paths are in poor condition; two enclose a bench and there are signs that the other two also had benches. The lily pond, with water lilies and reed mace (bulrushes), is still the central feature of the park, which is used as a short cut through and as a local park, especially for parents and young children. Although visually screened from a busy road, the noise of the traffic is impossible to ignore.
An excellent and intact example of a 1930’s designed ‘pocket park’ with a central pond and pergolas, annual bedding, ornamental planting and mature boundary trees.
HGT Research update October 2013
HGT Research 1996
Urban Parks Study 1997 (4.3)
Gosport Borough Council online 2013 http://www.gosport.gov.uk/sections/environment/horticulture/parks-and-open-spaces/9-foster-gardens/