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Norwich City Council: Historic Parks

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TIMESTAMPS Council Services

Historic Parks

The Green Spaces Team manage Norwich’s parks, many of which are of special historic interest.


Between 1800 and 1900 the population of Norwich increased rapidly but very little thought was given to providing public open space. An exception to this is Chapelfield Gardens in the city centre, which opened as a public park during November 1880.

The pagoda in Chapelfield Gardens, c.1938

At the start of the 20th century the Norwich Playing Field and Open Spaces Society together with the ‘Corporation’ – now Norwich City Council - and other individuals began buying or leasing land. The aim was to develop parks when funds became available.

Some benefactors gifted land and they are remembered today by the names given to their bequest. For example, James Stuart Gardens (off St Faith’s Lane) and Sewell Park (between St Clement’s Hill and Constitution Hill).

The years following the WW1 were a time of unemployment and hardship. Taking advantage of government grants, the Corporation made the bold decision to construct a series of formal parks as a means of unemployment relief.

Eaton Park under construction

The parks take shape

The Parks Superintendent, Captain Sandys-Winsch, was charged with drawing up plans and implementing the building and planting programme.

Capt Sandy Winsch on the far left, Wensum Park

One of the first of the new parks was Heigham Park, which was opened in 1924. This was followed by Wensum Park in 1925, Eaton Park in 1928

and Waterloo Park in 1933.

Waterloo Park c. 1938

Eaton Park was the flagship scheme and was opened by the Prince of Wales. (Link to friends of Eaton Park website)

There are several other parks around Norwich which were constructed during the 1920s and 1930s including:

  • Jubilee Park
  • Lakenham Recreation Ground
  • Sloughbottom Park
  • Woodrow Pilling Park
  • Mile Cross Gardens.

The Earlham Hall Estate, which now forms Earlham Park and the University of East Anglia, was purchased during 1925 for £20,000.

Mile Cross Gardens c.1970

The Sandys-Winsch parks today

Despite the loss of some features, the Sandys-Winsch parks remain largely true to the original plans. They are characterised by their formal geometric layout, the use of reinforced concrete to create classical features and the inclusion of water features.

Four of the parks have recently been restored using Lottery funding and are included in the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. These are Waterloo, Wensum, Eaton and Heigham Parks.

Eaton Park

New parks

The Bowthorpe Southern Park, a natural area was completed in 2002.

For further information please email: [email protected] or telephone: 01603 212212.

Link to parks location and facilities map
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