Humberstone Park is an urban park developed from a private estate. It is typical of many parks laid out in the 1920s, with formal laid-out gardens, large specimen trees and areas of woodland planting. There are also large areas of grassland laid out for sports and other recreational activities.
- Brief History
Humberstone Park was opened in 1928. The land was formerly owned by the Paget family. It was one of six multi-purpose parks that were created in Leicester. As the City was developing rapidly, the Corporation embarked on a programme to ensure that there was a major park within easy reach of each emerging suburban district.
Description: Known as Ivy House and later, The Lodge, this is a Victorian cottage built in the domestic revival style. It is situated to the west of Meadow House, alongside the main vehicular entrance into the park. The initials TTP and the date, 1876, are inscribed on a plaque in the wall above the front door. The building has distinctive ornate chimneys.
Bowling Green Pavilion
Description: Single storey and of brick construction with a pitched roof. It was constructed in 1933 at a cost of #399. In 1985/86, following fire-damage, alterations and reconstruction took place, including a single storey extension to form toilet accommodation.
Description: This attractive area is located to the rear of the café and contains the bowling green, grass surrounds and the Pavilion. It is enclosed by ornamental railings. The Club was established in 1929 as a `men only? bowling club.
Description: The Rally Bank was formerly a railway embankment. The railway (Tilton branch line) was used between 1883 and 1962 for people to travel between Leicester and Skegness for their summer holidays. Now abandoned, it is a wildlife haven. The adjacent nature reserve was created from a former allotment site.
Description: Sunken Garden: This is situated to the rear of the café, between the car park and the bowling green. It consists of two rectangular areas with descending levels, steps and dry stone walls. Narrow linear beds are planted with shrubs and grasses. In the centre of one of the lawned areas is a modern group of wooden sculptures. On the basis of the style, it is assumed that this feature formed part of the original gardens of Meadow House. Early postcards of the Park describe it as a `rose garden? and there was a central pool and fountain.
Description: The Bushby Brook runs through the Park. Prior to the 1950s, it followed a meandering course and was dammed at the Saltersford Road Entrance to create a boating lake. However, during the 1960s and early 70s there was severe flooding in streets west of the park. In the mid-1970s the book was canalized as part of a flood prevention scheme. It now runs in a concrete channel. The banks are planted with willow, birch and hazel.
Refreshment Pavilion (featured building)
Description: A substantial red brick Victorian villa built in an Italianate style with a campanile and known as Meadow House. The style suggests the 1850s-60s. A section forms a café for the park, the remainder is let as a children's day nursery.
- Access & Directions
Humberstone Park is located approximately 3 miles to the east of Leicester City Centre. The Park lies adjacent to the A47, Uppingham Road, at the junction with Scraptoft Lane. It is well served by a good bus route.
- Detailed History
The land which now forms Humberstone Park was owned originally by the Paget family of Humberstone, then a village on the outskirts of Leicester. The family originated in Ibstock and Barwell, Leicestershire, and were successful farmers. They began to prosper when Thomas Paget (1778-1862) turned to banking and politics. He became a partner in Pares Bank in St. Martins Leicester, and, in 1825, founded his own bank on the High Street: T & T.T. Pagets Leicester Savings Bank, which was eventually sold to Lloyds Bank in 1895. He was a prominent radical politician and Mayor of Leicester. He had two sons: Thomas Tertius (1806-1892) and John (1811-1898). Thomas Tertius followed his father into banking and politics; John was a barrister. On the death of his father, Thomas Tertius inherited the family home of Humberstone Hall from his father and built a number of houses on the Estate, including the property known as Ivy Cottage (subsequently The Lodge) on Humberstone Park. This is built in the ‘domestic revival' style. His initials (TTP) and the date (1876) are engraved on a plaque above the front door. The houses that he built are distinguished by ornate chimneys.
The main house on the park was known as Meadow House and is built in Italianate style, with a campanile, favoured in the 1850s and 1860s. On this basis, it is believed to pre-date Ivy Cottage. It is described in a letter from the Town Clerk to the Parks and Recreation Grounds Committee, at the time of the purchase by the Leicester Corporation as "a very fine and well-built brick building". It stood in approximately 5¾ acres of land. The first known tenant of Meadow House was John Tyler, a footwear manufacturer, who lived there until his death in 1914. He was succeeded by Captain Robert Evans, a miller and corn merchant, who died in 1920.
Ivy Cottage was leased by Minnie Scot and John Cart in 1904-06, who owned cattle. By 1911, Harry Tindall and his wife Sarah, a confectioner, leased the property and approximately two acres of land.
By 1923, Major Thomas Guy Frederick Paget (1886-1952), great-nephew of Thomas Tertius, had decided to leave Humberstone Hall (due to the encroachment of the City) and moved to his estate at Lubenham. The Hall was demolished in 1923 and the estate was put up for sale. It was at this point that negotiations to buy the Meadow House Estate commenced. With the rapid growth of the City's urban areas, the Corporation embarked on a programme to ensure that there was a major park within easy reach of each emerging suburban district: Braunstone, Knighton, Evington, Rushey Fields and Aylestone Parks were all created at this time.
A plan, dated December 1924, drawn up by the City Engineer and Surveyor, shows the extent of the Meadow House Estate - an area of approximately 20.26 acres.
In February 1927, the Town Clerk was authorized by the Parks and Recreation Grounds Committee to make an offer of £10,000, and this was accepted in March. The Estate was described in a letter from the Town Clerk to the Parks Committee, as follows:
"The Estate contains 19 acres, 2 roods and 36 perches and is bounded practically on three sides by a fine belt of trees with many trees scattered throughout the area.
The small field near the main road could, at little cost, be suitably planned as a children's playground, whilst the larger field (which is separated by a small stream) could easily be adapted as a playground for organised games.
The stream is a great asset as it can be readily converted into a paddling pond, which would greatly add to the beauty of the Estate when laid out..... There are two houses erected on the land - Meadow House and The Lodge.
The Meadow House is a very fine and well-built brick building, which could be adapted for use as a Pavilion. The Lodge, also of brick, is conveniently placed on the Estate so that the caretaker could have full control of the north entrance and Meadow House."
There were three tenancies affecting the land: Norah Evans, the widow of Captain Evans, at Meadow House, the Tindalls at the Lodge and also a Mr. Arthur Wilkes, who leased approximately 11¼ acres of land for grazing. These leases had all expired by the autumn of 1928, although Mr. and Mrs. Tindall were permitted to remain at The Lodge for a further two years from the completion of the purchase.
In 1928, an offer was accepted for agistment (grazing of cattle) on the land previously rented by Mr. Wilkes.
In September 1928, the estate was named Humberstone Park. Mr. Lord, the Superintendent of Leicester City Parks, was allowed to reside at Meadow House, on the termination of the existing tenancy. The Park was opened to the public. The official opening of the Park by the Lord Mayor of Leicester took place on 15th May 1929.
The report in the Leicester Mercury read as follows:
"Leicester's Lung - Humberstone Park Opened by the Lord Mayor:
Humberstone Park, Leicester's newest "lung" was opened by the Lord Mayor (Alderman Hand) this afternoon.
The park, which covers 19 acres, was formerly the Meadow House Estate and was bought by the Leicester Corporation from the owner, Major T G Paget, 18 months ago.
Situated at the junction of Uppingham-road and Scraptoft-lane, it is bounded on three sides by trees, and in its laying out, at a cost of about £10,000, special provision has been made for the youth of the city.
Tennis courts, both grass and hard, have been provided, to be used by them at cheap cost. There is also a children's playground, for which a paddling pool was made by a stream running through the park, a bowling green and cricket pitch."
Also in 1929, Humberstone Parks Bowls Club was first established as a men-only bowling club.
In 1930, a Refreshment Pavilion was opened in a portion of Meadow House. Also, new wrought iron entrance gates to the drive which leads to the Refreshment Pavilion were installed. In November, a request was made from the Bowls Club to ask for a Bowling Pavilion to be provided at the Park. The Club was prepared to contribute on the same terms as other clubs, namely 55% of the cost spread over 5 years. Estimates were sought; agreement was reached in December 1932 and a tender accepted in May 1933 at £399.
In October 1933, erection of a tram and bus shelter, outside the Park on Uppingham Road, was approved.
In March 1936, there was a request for the provision of footpaths round the extreme edges of the Park.
In 1939, the children's sandpit was converted to a paddling pool. Also, there was a proposal for the erection of "garden shelters" (air raid shelters) in Humberstone Park and other City parks.
The park had contained a boating lake (mentioned in Parks Committee Minutes in 1939). This had been created by damming the Brook near to the Saltersford Road entrance to the Park.However, after severe flooding in streets to the west of the Park, flood prevention measures were implemented, which led to the Brook being canalised in the 1970s. The boating lake disappeared as a result of this. After the closure of the railway line (Tilton Branch line) which abutted the Park, in 1964, the railway embankment was developed as The Rally Bank. Adjoining land, formerly allotments, was acquired and this area was developed as a nature reserve.
In 1989, a portion of part of the park was laid out as a children's play area.
In 2004, following a campaign by local teenagers, a skate park was opened.
Early 20th Century (1901-1932)
Humberstone Park Leicester (Leicester: Leicester City Council)Humberstone Park, Leicester
Management Plan for Humberstone Park (draft) (Leicester: Leicester City Council, 2003)Management Plan for Humberstone Park (draft)
Minutes of Parks and Recreation Grounds Committee (Leicester Corporation) January 1921 - October 1934Minutes of Parks and Recreation Grounds Committee
Leicester Mercury, Offical opening of the park (Leicester: Leicester Mercury, 16 May 1929)"Leicester's Lung - Humberstone park opened by the Lord Mayor"