History and architecture
The design and building of Grosvenor Park was a gift to the city by the Grosvenor family and the original benefactor was the Second Marquess of Westminster.
It was designed by Edward Kemp in a way that contrasted formality with the picturesque and contains important built structures by the well-known Chester architect, John Douglas.
Since it opened in 1867, the park has played an important role in the life of local residents and continues to be a venue for a wide range of recreational activities.
The park occupies a terrace above a cliff face overlooking the River Dee and the Meadows, a large alluvial terrace in the bend in the river. The rock underlying Grosvenor Park is part of the Sherwood Sandstone Group referred to as the Chester Pebble Beds Formation. The early history of the area is well documented being part of the Roman story of Chester and its subsequent development.
During medieval times, the area continued as an important ecclesiastical college and during the Civil War played a part in the Parliamentarian siege of Chester. Recent archaeological discoveries have revealed important evidence of these earlier times.
There are a number of types of heritage contained within Grosvenor Park. These include the presence of architectural and aesthetic features, the planting design and layout of the park which is intrinsically linked to the works of Edward Kemp; the geology of the park; the social and cultural traditions, oral history and people’s memories and the arts; recreation, education and community, and the natural environment.
History and heritage
In 1867 the Marquess, an extensive landowner in and around Chester, commissioned landscape designer Edward Kemp and Chester architect John Douglas, to create a public park on the site that was formerly agricultural land and orchards. The park was laid out in 1865–66 and opened in November 1867.
Edward Kemp, together with Joseph Paxton and Edward Milner, was one of the leading figures in the design of parks and gardens during the mid-Victorian era in England. Already renowned for his creation of Birkenhead Park in 1843, Kemp combined his vision for Grosvenor Park’s gardens with the architectural features of Douglas.
In 2011, through the Parks for People initiative, Grosvenor Park was awarded a restoration grant to improve enjoyment of the park and access to and appreciation of its heritage.
Parks for People is a joint initiative between the Big Lottery Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund. The programme awards grants of between £100,000 and £5 million to revitalise historic parks and cemeteries. Additional funding was awarded by WREN – the non-profit-making company dedicated to environmental improvement and Cheshire West and Chester Council.
The principle aims of the restoration programme were to:
- Conserve the fabric of the park
- Repair and restore the original features
- Removal and re-structure the park vegetation to re-create intended views, to improve its appearance and sense of openness and to re-introduce areas of formal ornamental bedding and herbaceous planting.
- Improve the use and appearance of the park by the reinstatement of footpaths, the repair and replacement of boundary railings an entrance gates, the re-use of buildings and structures and the upgrading and where necessary relocation of amenities for plan and recreation.
The park was reopened in July 2014, the park was re-opened by Gerald Grosvenor, 6th Duke of Westminster and descendent of the original benefactor.