Braunstone Park History
Braunstone Park was originally part of Leicester Forest, in a wood called Barnho, which was first recorded as early as 1250 AD.
It has had many important land owners, including the Hastings and the Grey families. Henry Hastings was reported to have cut down 500 acres of trees in 1604; breaking forest regulations of the time.
In 1650 the Winstanleys came to Braunstone and Clement Winstanley built Braunstone Hall in 1775. They used the Walled garden to grow vegetables and fruit for the family and occasionally sit in the middle of the park.
Major Richard Winstanley and family were the last people to live at the hall, as the land and the hall was compulsorily purchased in 1926. In the early 1930's it was opened up to the public and the hall was used as a school from 1932 until its closure in 1996.
During WW2 Braunstone park was used as a military camp for both English and American personnel. After the war, until 1950, the nissen huts were used to house families before permanent homes could be found for them.
Both stable block and Walled garden are still used today.
The Walled garden
The Walled Garden is approached through an arched gateway from the stable yard and has a long and varied history. Originally the kitchen garden for the Winstanley household, the first reference to it was as early as 1792, when it was described as having hot houses of considerable magnitude, and the garden walls planted with choice fruit trees.
The hot houses provided a large and diverse range of fruit and vegetables, the garden also had a vinery and orchard filled with a variety of fruit trees. In later years after the land had been acquired by the Leicester Corporation the garden was used as holding beds for trees and shrubs before they were distributed to the various parks in the city.
In the early 1980’s the garden was cleared, re-designed and opened to the public on 22nd May 1983 by Councillor R.A. Flint, JP. Formal floral displays encompassed by a parterre and sweeping lawns have taken the place of vegetables and fruit, presenting a riot of colour throughout the year. The old walls provide shelter for a rich variety of herbaceous plants and colourful shrubs under planted with spring flowering bulbs.
Braunstone Park achieved an award for horticultural excellence within parks from the East Midlands in Bloom Committee in 1996 when it was “Highly Commended”.
The park today
The park covers 168 acres of beautiful open parkland, ancient spinneys, wooded areas and meadow land with evidence of ridge and furrow cultivation. Two lakes on the southern boundary attract migrating birds and a wide variety of wildlife. Braunstone Hall stands proudly in the centre of the park along side the refurbished stable block accommodating offices and a Visitor/Information Centre that was opened 4th June 1989 by Councillor David Taylor.
Part of the stables have been left unaltered and still retain many period features including hefty wooden stalls, hay troughs and the original stone flooring.
The Hall and stable block are a Grade 11 listed building.