Churchill Memorial Garden
Lower High Street
Cheltenham Spa GL50 3HU
Tucked away behind Cheltenham’s Lower High Street shops is a small urban park called the Winston Churchill Memorial Garden. It is not big and flashy like some of the town’s parks but a beautifully perfumed hidden gem.
It has beds of sweet lavender bordering the lawn, a formal rose garden, a clipped yew avenue, a pergola, and access to the Honeybourne Line footpath and cycle track.
This is a former railway line which runs along an embankment, to the west of the garden forming the boundary to this side. This designated track, Route 41 of the Sustrans National Cycle Network, provides a valuable link into the gardens and across the town.
In the centre of the rose garden stands a drinking fountain which is surrounded by words, phrases and simple line drawings gathered from local children and adults to symbolise how they feel about the garden. The images are pressed into blue engineering bricks, once used on the railway line that runs parallel to the gardens.
In 1990 a fenced play area was created. It has a woodland trail, living tree sculptures, spring bulbs and a variety of play equipment chosen by children. The multi-activity unit, roundabout, inclusive play springie, swings, pole spin and talk tubes provide play facilities for a wide age range.
The area south of the playground is available for informal recreation. The eastern boundary has been planted with native dog rose and wild flowers to enhance the urban park for wildlife. It is a favourite habitat for squirrels and birds such as goldfinches, long tailed tits, starlings, house sparrows, blackbirds, blue tits, and great tits.
There is still evidence of the Garden’s former use as the town’s cemetery, between 1831 and 1864.
As Cheltenham developed it became necessary to increase the size of the burial ground. The Parish Vestry of St Mary’s acquired a small orchard on the southern side of Lower High Street in 1830. Between May 1830 and January 1831, the ground was cleared, levelled and enclosed by a perimeter wall and the first burial took place in September 1831.
A small chapel (St Mary's mission) was built in 1831 to serve the new burial ground. It is now a Grade II Listed Building.
Following a period of neglect, the cemetery was purchased by Cheltenham Borough Council in 1965 and developed into a garden. Most of the tombstones were cleared at this time but it is still possible to see some of the headstones along the northern perimeter wall.
The garden can be accessed by pedestrians from a number of surrounding streets.
There are several bus stops close to the High Street entrance. Bus route H has a stop near to the Swindon Road post sorting office.
The Lower High Street entrance is situated opposite Cheltenham Garden Machinery, which is close to the junction where the High Street joins Tewkesbury Road. Care should be taken when using this entrance due to vehicles using the driveway to park.
The Market Street pedestrian entrance has limited parking in Market Street due to restrictions.
- By Road
The park does have a very small car park next to the St Mary's Chapel building. The nearest public car park is situated on the corner of the High Street and Poole Way (at the traffic lights).
- By Bus
Two Stagecoach bus routes have stops on the High Street: bus routes 41/42 and C.
- By Foot & Cycle Paths
The Honeybourne Line foot and cycle track exits into the Winston Churchill Memorial Garden.
Google Maps - Winston Churchill Memorial Garden