Cheltenham GL50 1DZ
The Regency town of Cheltenham Spa is famous not only for its lovely architecture but also for its parks. Located at the end of the High Street is one of the lesser well-known green spaces, Sandford Park.
The park is cut in half by College Road. The half between Bath and College roads is the ornamental park, and the other half between College and Keynsham roads contains the open play area with a bit of ornamentation on the eastern side.
This park performs three important roles - as a recreational space, a community garden and as part of Cheltenham’s flood mitigation scheme.
River Chelt springs
Running through the park is Cheltenham’s only river, the Chelt. Don’t be fooled by this little stream’s apparent passivity. It rises from a cluster of springs in the hills above Cheltenham and eventually feeds into the River Severn at Wainlodes Hill. Although small and unassuming in size, it gathers momentum through its steep drop off the hills and is prone to very sudden and unpredictable flooding.
Flowing through Cheltenham from south-east to north-west, the stream is confined in a large culvert running under much of the town centre but it comes to the surface in Sandford Park. When in flood the Chelt backs up into the park preventing the town from going under water.
The recreational side of the park, across College Road and adjacent to The Sandford Lido, is popular for picnics and games. Facilities include a large play area, public toilets and the Park Cafe open from April – October.
The Ornamental Park
The ornamental side of the park is divided into three sections. The main part houses the Unwin Memorial Fountain at the College road entrance; an ornamental pond, a rockery, the Friendship Circle, landscaped beds, and stunning flower displays in the summer months. The park is home to a range of bird life and is well known for its squirrels, many of which are quite tame.
A meandering path leads to the restful cascade pools and the River Chelt. In springtime the cascades are filled with ducklings learning to swim, and if you are lucky, you may catch a glimpse of a local kingfisher!
The Annecy Gardens are to the north side of the park, and the Italian Gardens, complete with sunken pool, fountains and clipped yew trees, lie to the west.
The Annecy Garden
This garden is named after one of Cheltenham’s twinned towns. It is an ‘Edible Garden’ run on organic principles by Transition Town Cheltenham and helpers for the purpose of being harvested and eaten by passers-by. It features unusual and perennial vegetables, soft fruit and many insect attracting flowers. Because it is in a public park that is open all year, children must be supervised. There is paid parking available opposite the property.
The Italian Gardens
The gardens, with their sunken pool and fountains, were designed by Edward White and opened in 1927. They lie to the west of Sandford Park and are accessed from the Bath Road. An information board informs visitors of the history of these beautiful gardens.
The name Sandford is derived from the sandy soil and the old ford over the brook. Sandford is mentioned in the Domesday Book and was the site of Barretts Mill, the largest of the three mills on the banks of the River Chelt. Designed by the landscape architect Milner White, Sandford Park was acquired by the borough council in 1927.
Over the years the park has developed with the addition of more garden beds and the planting of trees and shrubs to provide spring and autumn colour. The park’s main water feature, the Unwin Memorial Fountain, has been restored to full working order.
The park is very popular and is well used by many as a pleasant route to work, or for quiet lunch breaks in the sun.
Contact & Further Information
+44 1242 262626
Google Maps - Sandford Park