This historic Georgian park, has an attractive parkland landscape of mature trees and garden features, to walk and relax in. It also has a bandstand, play area, BMX/skate park, sports pitches and all weather tennis courts run by Totally Tennis.
Following an award from the National Lottery Fund, the park was refurbished in 2001 to include a woodland walk and aviary. Due to its high standards, War Memorial Park has been awarded the Green Flag Award for 2015 to 2016.
The 18th Century parkland, at the west end of the park, was purchased by public subscription to commemorate the lives that were lost during World War I. It was originally known as Goldings Park as it was part of the land attached to the Georgian house known as Goldings, which is now part of the Civic Offices campus.
The parkland was originally laid out between 1788 and 1797 as private grounds to Goldings by Frances Russell. After 100 years in the same family Goldings was auctioned in 1916 and purchased by Thomas Burberry for £10,500.
In 1921 the Corporation of Basingstoke purchased the park for £4,500, raised from public subscribers to be held in perpetuity for the benefit of the town and as a memorial to those lost in the first world war.
The Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, Major-General J E B Seely CB CMG DSO, performed the ceremony of unlocking the gate at the Hackwood Road entrance and declared the park open for the use and enjoyment of the public.
"It is indeed a splendid memorial", said the Lord Lieutenant, "for I think no town of the size of Basingstoke has had so beautiful a park presented to it by the generosity of its citizens as a memorial for those who fell".
Location and Access
The park is a short walk from the town area or from a bus stop in Hackwood Road. Alternatively, there are subways to the park from the residential areas of Cranbourne and Black Dam, with pathways from Riverdene and Eastrop estates.
Free parking is available at Crossborough Hill, which also has disabled parking bays. There is a disabled toilet on site at the John Arlott Pavilion and pathways throughout the park are suitable for buggies and wheelchair users.
The bank between the Costello School boundary and the playing fields will be left to flower and cut once in late summer to encourage wider biodiversity, to provide a useful habitat for butterflies and moths, food for birds and cover for small mammals.
The Basingstoke Field Society has kindly agreed to carry out wildflower surveys of the area and compile records on behalf of the council. This data will be used to monitor and enhance the site's biodiversity value.
Art in the park
Ring of Light by Peter Freeman
To commemorate Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee, lighting artist, Peter Freeman, was commissioned to create a 'ring of light' in the War Memorial Park in 2002. This takes the form of a series of custom-made lights, which highlight the canopies of a selection of trees.
Six Stone Plaques – Alec Peever
Installed in 1995, these sandstone wedges were produced by Oxfordshire-based stonecutter, Alec Peever. Set into the walkways of the park, each is inscribed with a phrase from a poem. The artist was inspired by the 17th Century passion for viewing the landscape through a hand-held looking glass, known as a Claude Glass.