History of the park

Hatherley Court Estate was put up for sale in 1934 and Cheltenham Borough Council took the opportunity to purchase nine acres of land for the construction of Hatherley Court Road and a new recreation ground. The land was bought for £2,750 and the total cost of making up the road, adding railings and gates and improving the ground was £4,210.

Unemployed men were recruited to work on what had previously been a furrowed field and fish pond on the estate. It took eighteen months to reshape and dredge the pond, level the new playing field and carry out the planting.

On Saturday 29 April 1939, Mr John Howell, the mayor of Cheltenham at the time, formally opened Hatherley Park Recreation Ground. The ceremony was performed in front of a large invited audience at the entrance to the pavilion.

The project was deemed a "daring experiment" in establishing a recreation ground and playing field for children, as well as a park "beautifully laid out" for adults.

Cumberland stone was used for the construction of the miniature waterfall, streams and rock garden.  An avenue of trees was planted alongside the main path through the park and extensive herbaceous borders were created with flowering trees and hardy perennials.

There was a big pavilion with attendant's room and aviary at the end of the path from Hatherley Court Road. Near the children's playground, with swings, slides and witches hat, there was a large wooden shelter. These buildings, the play equipment and the toilets (where the woodland path is today) were all removed in the 1980s.

The BBC2 comedy, Butterflies (1979-1983), starring Wendy Craig and Geoffrey Palmer, featured scenes of Hatherley Park. The disillusioned housewife visited the park to daydream on one of the benches by the lake.


The Gloucestershire Echo, May 1 1939.

"Cheltenham: The story of Tivoli near this town" - Brian Torode