Bedford Park is a Grade Two listed English Heritage Victorian park located north of Bedford. Founded in 1888 it is the biggest urban park in Bedford and has a lake, multiple play areas and sports facilities. Bedford Park is one of five Bedford Borough Council controlled parks that has been awarded a Green Flag. The Green Flag Award scheme recognises quality parks and open spaces in the UK and around the world.
In 1882 an exhibition of the plans filed in response to a contest was held at the Bedford Corn Exchange, the winning entry being the Messrs W Barron & Son, landscape gardeners, of the Elvaston Nurseries, Borrowash, Derbyshire. The goal of Barron’s strategy was’a strategy that, while providing for the demands of the Corporation, can be carried out for the small sum specified, and also to provide the most pleasing effect accessible with the materials at our disposal’. A complete program of the 18,000 various trees and shrubs to be planted has been supplied.
The initial estimate for the work was under #4000, the last cost, as a consequence of alterations and additions, amounting to #7000, not including the buildings. Work began in the spring of 1883 and took two years to finish. The park was opened in July 1888 by the Marquess of Tavistock.
Bedford Park is located on the northern side of town at the foot of Foster’s Hill, immediately below and to the south of Bedford Cemetery (qv). The 26ha park is separated in the cemetery by metal railings and a yew hedge. A shelter belt of mixed woodland, including a predominance of mature pine trees, adds additional screening. The boundary to the west is a broad footpath called Cemetery Hill, with a former college and playing fields to the east, and Park Avenue forming the southern border of the website.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
The main entrances are off Park Avenue, West Lodge standing in the south-west corner of the website, and East Lodge occupying a website in the eastern tip. The West Lodge and gates were compensated for by public subscription, started with a fund launched to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887. In the south-west corner of the park are a pair of later cottages (mid C20) called North Lodge, which stand adjacent to one of many other access points to the park.
GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS
A broad, serpentine perimeter walk, laid out as a carriage driveway, provides access round the border of this park, the open lawns at the core of the website being divided by various interior walks.
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