|HCC Site ID:||1203||Parish:||Basingstoke|
|Access:||Public Access||Ownership:|| Basinstoke &
Dean Borough Council
In 1765 a pair of 16th century timber framed houses built on the London Road (recorded as belonging to the late Mr Rymas) was acquired by Francis Russell, a member of one of the prominent 18th century Basingstoke families, said to be related to the Russell dukes of Bedford. The parkland was originally laid out between 1788 and 1797 as private grounds to his house, Goldings, on 6 acres of land. The Basingstoke Enclosure Act of 1786 enabled undeveloped land to the south and east called Hackwood Field to be included in Russell’s park which was designed in the English landscape style influenced by “Capability” Brown.
Spinneys and belts of oak, beech and cedar trees are interlaced by winding walks. A hexagonal brick temple folly was built on raised ground to add interest to the views. Goldings, its gardens, orchards, greenhouses and orangery, was separated from the parkland by a ha-ha, retained by flint walls (later unfortunate restorations in brick). Trees were planted to frame the main views from the house, which included a summer house in the middle distance. An ice house was built close to the eastern boundary. The Apletree family lived in Goldings for most of the 19th century, and in 1900 the estate was sold to Mr Charles Lefroy.
In 1919 the Corporation of Basingstoke acquired Goldings Park to make a War Memorial Park to be held in perpetuity for the benefit of the town and as a memorial to those lost in the First World War. Thomas Burberry (then in residence at The Shrubbery on the Cliddesden Road) bought it for £10,500 and held it until the Corporation could buy it with £4,500 raised from public subscription.
A new layout for the park was designed by Mr J Arthur Smith FRIBA incorporating the original ha-ha from the Goldings Park era. A central feature was the bandstand moved from Fairfields Recreation Ground in 1921, and a bowling green area and eight new tennis courts north of the bandstand were constructed.
In 1923 the war memorial was erected at the London Road entrance to the park by local firms, Messrs Goodall & Son and Messrs Mussell white & Son. It was designed by Mr J Arthur Smith, with the bronze Winged Victory and Borough Coat of arms by Mr L F Roslyn. Goldings house was later incorporated into the municipal offices built at the London road entrance to the park.
During the construction of the Basingstoke ring road in the 1970’s, part of War Memorial Park was lost. To compensate for this, an area of Basingstoke Common was added to the east side of the park, where football pitches and a cricket square and floodlit tennis courts were laid out. The John Arlott Pavilion was opened in 1990.
In 2001 a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for £382,000 enabled the recreation of the 18th century picturesque landscape of the park. The following works were implemented:
1 The ha-ha, the summer house and the woodland walk restored
2 The Victorian bandstand moved to form a new feature at the Hackwood Road entrance, and wrought iron gates, installed during the Festival of Britain celebrations in 1951 restored
3 A wedding garden laid out
4 Additional features included the art trail and the uplighting of trees.
5 The play area redesigned.
6 Seats provided to overlook the parkland
7 The aviary built in 1940 was replaced by a modern, galvanised steel construction, designed by the Radley House Partnership,
The park provides a venue for a number of town celebrations, including the Mayor’s fireworks displays, and the annual Basingstoke Festival of Transport held each year in May.
An ART IN THE PARK programme commemorating Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee includes Peter Freeman’s Ring of Light; Six Stone Plaques by Alec Peever inscribed with phrases inspired by the 17th Century passion for viewing the landscape through a hand-held looking glass, and the War Memorial Bronze
The character of the park retains its private, enclosed character, created by dense belts of mature trees and a high brick wall along the south-western boundary.
Goldings Park dates from the end of the 18th century – laid out by Francis Russell between 1788 and 1797 during the earliest expansion period of Basingstoke. The acquisition of the park represents the strong public response to the devastation of the First World War, and the desire to remember the dead, and to mark it in a positive way.
The presence of elements of the 18th century landscape – the ha- ha, the woodland belts and long vista from Goldings House, the later Victorian band stand; and its place in the history of the development of Basingstoke, representing the philanthropy typical of the 19th century, and its continuing importance as a local recreation park for Basingstoke residents.
Landscape Planning Status
The park lies within the designated Conservation area of central Basingstoke and all protections apply.
Research: EM Consultants for Basingstoke & Deane: June 2010
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