History of the Park

The twenty acres, which forms Grosvenor Park, was given to the City by Richard, the second Marquis of Westminster. On 9th October 1867 he wrote to the General Council of the City Council "I am desirous of placing it (the park) on the hands of the Corporation as a gift on my part to the Citizens of Chester hoping it may afford health and recreation to themselves and their families for many years to come." The area was originally made up mainly of fields, with the largest field marked on the 1833 Plan of the City of Chester as 'Billy Obbies' Field. The Marquess also paid for the design and laying out of the 'pleasure park' by the famous Mr Edward Kemp, Landscape Designer and former pupil of Joseph Paxton, the architect of Crystal Palace.

Whilst the park was being prepared in 1865/6 a cholera epidemic broke out in the city. For want of more appropriate accommodation a temporary shed was erected in the future park, making it the first building there. The outcome of the epidemic led to the establishment of a new and separate wing on the old Infirmary for contagious diseases in 1867/8.

A detailed description of the celebrations for the opening of the park can be found in the Chester Chronicle for 9.11.1867: "The procession was one of the grandest ever witnessed in Chester, and it was about a mile in length. The Incorporated Companies ...in the procession were the remnants of the 'Gild Mercatorial', the Fletchers, Bowers, Coopers and Stringers'." "The Eastgate itself was adorned with evergreens and the arms of the Grosvenor family were surmounted with a trophy of flags. Under the Westminster Arms were the following lines:

Cestria, today with grateful heart accepts Her noble neighbours more than princely gift; Her children, too, in ages yet unborn. Shall bless the donor of the people's Park.

On arrival at the main entrance to the Park the sight that met the eye was pretty in the extreme. Facing the park road was a great triumphal arch, about 30 feet in height, composed of variegated evergreens, and surrounded by a trophy of flags, with streamers on either side: and on the columns were placed shields, the Marquess's coronet and the City Arms. On the sides of the Avenue leading to the Park gates a number of poles have been erected, and from the festoons of evergreens, being relieved at intervals with flags, which produced a pleasing effect."

Grosvenor Park is now regarded by many as one of the finest and most complete examples of Victorian Parks in the north west of England, if not nationally. Although many changes have taken place since it's official opening, much of the original design and features set out by Kemp have been retained.

Many features and buildings within Grosvenor Park were designed by the leading local Victorian architect John Douglas. These include Grosvenor Park Lodge, the boundary wall and gateways into the park and the canopy to Billy Hobby's Well.


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