|HCC Site ID:||1292||Parish:||Empress Ward, Farnborough|
|Access:||Public Access||Ownership:||Rushmoor Borough Council|
Location and Site
The Park is located in the centre of Farnborough to the north of the mainline railway. The northern boundary of the park is backed by low density housing and the eastern boundary by medium density housing. There are two accesses, one from Farnborough Road through the old gates the other from Cabrol Road, with car parks close to each entrance.
The site of the Queen Elizabeth Park is a small part of the estate of Farnborough Hill, part of which was known as Windmill Hill in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Taylor’s map of 1759 shows a house with an avenue, which by 1791 is shown on the Milne map in a rectangular enclosure with the name of Major General Grant. His son and heir, Ludovick Grant, later benefited from the carving-up of Farnborough’s common lands under the Enclosure Act of 1811 when through allocation and purchase, he acquired 78 acres on the western side of the highway and extended his land ownership eastwards to form the nucleus of the Windmill Hill estate. He then rebuilt a house known as Windmill Hill on the same site which was bought in 1819 by Mrs Mary Foreman, who divided her time between London and Farnborough. Mary Foreman may have changed the name of Windmill Hill at this time to Farnborough Hill as there is reference to her decorating ‘Farnborough Hill’ and ‘The Pavilion’ (the lodge). She died in 1834 with her brother the Dean of Chichester, inheriting. He died in 1859 never having lived in the house. On the Dean’s death Thomas Longman, the publisher who had been living nearby, acquired the house, parkland and woodland. He at once commissioned a new, larger house on the top of the hill, naming it Farnborough Hill. In 1880, the Empress Eugenie, wife of the exiled Napoleon III purchased the property, together with land just across the railway on which St Michael’s Abbey was built. The Empress enlarged and developed the park and woodlands to resemble the royal park near Paris. She died in 1920, leaving the estate to her heir, Prince Victor Napoleon who himself died in 1926. Following Victor Napoleon’s death, Farnborough Hill was split into two lots and sold, in order to pay death duties. The Hampton Sales Details of 1926 show the site of the present Queen Elizabeth Park but do not indicate who actually owned this land at the time. Much of the Farnborough Hill land was developed but the Abbey and Mausoleum together with the house, Farnborough Hill, survive in 2018, as do many of the woodland and parkland trees. In 1951 Mr and Mrs Teal, the then owners of the original Windmill Hill Lodge (the Pavilion) gave the land that subsequently became the Queen Elizabeth Park, to Farnborough District Council.
The park is distinctive in having a canopy of so many distinguished trees which were already on site when it became a public park. There is also dense growth of mature rhododendrons which add an extensive show of Spring colour. The park is in good condition and is well-used by the local population for recreation, dog walking and as a through route from the area or old village called Cove to the station and town centre. The issues described as creating ‘an intimidating and uninviting environment’ noted on the 1996 Survey have clearly been addressed, making this a pleasant and popular green space.
Summary & Significance
The Queen Elizabeth Park, retains extensive woodland areas dating from its existence as part of a significant private estate, as well as strong historical and current connections together with other existing remnants of the Farnborough Hill Estate – St Michaels Abbey and Farnborough Hill School (once the Empress Eugenie’s house). The park is of local heritage merit.
From research compiled by Vicki Jordan for Hampshire Gardens Trust, 1996, and
Hutton, B, ‘Farnborough and the Empress Eugénie’ HGT magazine, Autumn 2011
Cole, H N, The Story of Aldershot
Gosney, Jo, Farnborough in Old Photographs, Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd
Mostyn, Dorothy A, Farnborough Hill, the Story of a House
Collection of Postcards of Farnborough
Hampton & Sons, Sales Particulars, Farnborough Local Studies Section
Centenary Magazine 1889-1989, Farnborough Hill School archive
Old Hampshire Mapped:Taylor, 1759 and Milne, 1791 www.port.ac.uk
Click here to visit Queen Elizabeth Park web page