Waverley Gardens

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HCC Site ID: 1990 Parish: Portsmouth
Designations: None Area: c0.4ha
Access: Public Access Ownership: Portsmouth City Council

Location and Site

Waverley Gardens is in the Southsea area of Portsmouth. It is surrounded by roads, the main one Waverley Road being on the east, Wimbledon Park Road on the south, Lowcay Road on the north and Shirley Road on the west. To the immediate north is the Southsea Waverley Bowls Club and diagonally to the southwest is Wimbledon Park. Portsea Island is part of a broad low-lying plain of flinty marine and valley gravels, underlain by clays, sands and gravelly deposits of gravel and brickearth. Until the development of Southsea in the nineteenth century, the site of Waverley Gardens was part of the flat marshland coastal plain cut into by many channels from the sea.

Historic Development

Southsea began to develop from the 1810s as a residential suburb of Portsmouth and a seaside resort, and by the end of the century was quite densely populated. It is unclear when Waverley Gardens was opened: until the 1870s it appears as an open area on OS maps. On the OS 25″ map of 1898 the park appears as Saxe Weimar Road Gardens. The layout of the gardens is similar to that of today with a surrounding inner path and two paths that cross leading to a circular bed in the centre, thus dividing it into four more or less equal squares. To the north on the far side of Lowcay Road is the Bowling Green, founded in 1895 as the Saxe-Weimar Bowling Club, and diagonally to the southwest is an open area named a Nursery with glasshouses. The founding date of the bowls club may give an indication of the opening of the Gardens.
Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar, a British military officer of German parents, was Lieutenant Governor of Portsmouth from 1878-1884 and it is likely that the park and the road were named in his honour. During World War 1 in 1916, they were renamed Waverley Gardens and Road respectively.

Current Description

B. View from southwest towards Pterocarya fraxinifolia in the central bed

A small city green space in the heart of residential Southsea, today Waverley Gardens provides a quiet retreat and a place to sit to enjoy the trees and birdsong. It has retained its original layout of paths, grassy area and central circular beds and is well provided with benches around the perimeter and in the centre. Mature trees, notably London plane, flowering cherry, copper beech and horse chestnut, line the inside perimeter of the park, and there is a splendid Caucasian wingnut in the centre which draws the eye at any time of year. In spring, flowering bulbs appear along the grassy borders around the inner edge of the gardens.

Summary & Significance

A classic late-Victorian small city park providing an important green space and a quiet place to relax in an urban area.

HGT Research, Urban Park Survey: June 2021


OS maps 25″ 1907-1910; 1931-33 – https://maps.nls.uk/view/ – accessed March 22021
OS map 25″ 1898 – https://www.old-maps.co.uk/#/Map/465030/98690/12/100642 – accessed March 2021
The Portsmouth Encyclopaedia – https://www.portsmouth.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/lib-portsmouth-encyclopaedia-2011.pdf – accessed March 2021

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