Monday, 8 May 2017

The Birth of Bath’s Henrietta Park

Victoria Park is probably the park most people think of when they think of Bath, but it’s not the only city centre idyll that Bath has to offer. 

This week we’ve been thinking quite a bit about Henrietta Park. Last year a local friends group was set up in the community to help maintain, protect, and also enhance, Henrietta Park. This Sunday (7th May) we took part in the Fun and Forage fundraising day at Henrietta Park (we spent Saturday baking – pictures of our labours below (and the results were delicious even if we do say so ourselves)). Our day in the park got us thinking though - the history of the park isn’t that well known. So this week we thought we’d share a little bit about the park with you.

Henrietta Park is a lovely seven acre park a couple of minutes walk from Bath city centre and, like Bath’s Victoria Park, is another park which was dedicated to the Queen Victoria. However while Victoria Park was named after Victoria when she was a princess, Henrietta park was opened on the 22nd of June 1897 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. The land having been donated by Captain Forrester of 3rd Kings Own Hussars, on the condition that the land should remain a green space and never be built on.   

So why call it Henrietta?

Henrietta Laura Pulteney became the first, and only as the title became extinct following her death, Countess of Bath in 1803 aged 26. Henrietta was the only daughter of Sir William Johnstone Pulteney, whose investment in Bath saw the building of Pulteney Bridge and many other fine buildings (at one time Sir William was reportedly the wealthiest man in Great Britain). On his death Henrietta owned a great deal of the land around Bath in the form of the vast Pulteney estate. The park
is named in her honour, which might seem a bit odd given that when it was begun in 1896 Henrietta had been long dead (1808) and it was Captain Forrester who donated the land. Forrester Park maybe didn’t have the same ring to it.

As per Captain Forrester’s wishes, the park remains to this day an oasis of tranquillity with places to sit and reflect and paths to stroll along to enjoy the flowers and trees – some of which exist from the Old Bathwick Park and so are between 150 and 200 years old!

The park is also a big hit with architectural historians, as it’s a wonderful example of the original level of the Bathwick estate, before architects such as Thomas Baldwin came along and changed the contours of the land.  

We have to say, Henrietta Park is a hidden gem in Bath and well-worth a visit. If you do decide to take a stroll to this beautiful park, make sure you don’t miss the King George V Memorial Garden, which has lovely planting all around it and a real sense of peace and solitude. 

(And in case you were curious, here are some of the goodies we baked for the event on Sunday.) 

Raspberry vanilla macaroons and mini teacakes.

Lemon drizzle cupcakes.

Chocolate muffins.


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