Radford Park is a 15-hectare site in the southern River Wey valley. The whole site is part of the River Wey Conservation Area; the majority of the site is also designated a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC). Radford Park consists of natural woodland, the River Wey, and a carrier and drainage system to irrigate the ancient water meadow system. The area nearest the western end of the park was created in the late 60s and early 70s from land-fill when the original A3 was realigned and the course of the river diverted, as it was on the now southbound road alignment. This part is now a large grassed area with a mixture of trees. The aqueduct on the north side of Radford Bridge, together with its surrounding land, is listed as a scheduled ancient monument. Bramshott and Liphook Parish Council is responsible for both the aqueduct and the surrounding land.
Bramshott and Liphook Parish Council aims to ensure that Radford Park remains as a natural area for the benefit of all our residents, acting as the “green lung” for our village. The Council shall permanently preserve, protect, maintain, improve and enhance Radford Park’s natural resources, heritage assets, and recreational opportunities for current and future generations of all ages and abilities. Radford Park shall exist to provide space, and recreation opportunities for all people to gather, celebrate, contemplate, and engage in activities that promote health, education, well-being, community, and understanding of the environment.
The name derives from the ford where the London to Portsmouth Road used to cross the River Wey. The river valley area of the park is generally very marshy due to springs and natural drainage from the surrounding high ground. The name probably meant “reedy ford” or “ford among reeds”. The earliest mention of a bridge there, instead of a ford, is in 1428 when John Hilary was accused in Bramshott Manor Court of letting his fence “near the marsh at Radford Bridge” get into poor repair, so that the Lord of the Manor had lost some cattle and sheep.
The water meadows were valuable areas of land that enabled more sheep to be kept and more hay to be cut for the winter, so at least by Elizabethan times the riverside trees had been cut and ‘carrier drains’ had been dug in the marsh to control irrigation into the water meadows. In the early 1600s the value of the meadow on the south side of the river was such that it was bought as an investment by a Godalming man, Richard Wyatt, who had become a City Alderman and Master of the Carpenters Company in London. Wyatt died in 1619 and in his will he left “all my land in Bramshott now leased to Mr Palmer for £6 13s 4d pa” to the Carpenters Company, to cover their costs in supervising his almshouses in Godalming.
In 1845 the meadow was let by the Carpenters Company to James Bridger, who was owner of the Wheatsheaf Inn (now the Links Hotel on the Portsmouth Road in Liphook); and the remainder of the Radford Park area, including the meadow east of the River Wey, was owned by John Sparrow, who also owned Malthouse Farm and the land which eventually became the King George Hospital Site (now Bramshott Place Retirement Village).
In 1857 the Carpenters Company transferred all the Wyatt land (about 15 acres) to Sir William Erle, a London judge who had bought John Sparrow’s estate and had just built Bramshott Grange on the hill east of the River Wey. Bramshott Grange replaced the Bramshott Place Tudor house, although the old Gatehouse was retained and is now a feature of Bramshott Place Village. In 1921 the house became the office block of the King George’s Sanatorium for Sailors.
Maintenance of the meadows was labour intensive and it reverted into a natural state during World War I as so many men were away at the war. Trees and scrub slowly covered the old meadows. In 1919 the widow of the last Erle sold the estate and much of the west bank of the Wey eventually came into the hands of the Allee family. During the 1970s when the A3 was changed into dual carriageway, some of the earth from the roadworks was deposited on what is now the upper, grassy area of Radford Park. At the same time the river was diverted from the course shown on the 1857 map to its present course.
In March 1983 a further 12 acres were purchased at the eastern end of the park, these contained many relics of the old water meadow system. The Countryside Commission had been impressed by the considerable work carried out and offered 50% of the cost.
In 1990 approximately one acre of wetland, north of the River Wey to the boundary with Marshes Hollow, Haslemere Road, was purchased from Mrs J Obert. In 1997 an area of wooded land on the edge of Bramshott Place was provided by a property developer, Danbuild, together with the sum of £14,000 for its upkeep. The Allee family donated 4 acres, the Parish Council purchased 12 acres for £6,000, James Miller & Partners (developers) gave 6 acres near the Maltings after receiving permission for housing there.
Radford Park was set up in the late 1970s by the local Parish Council with assistance from the Countryside Commission and various gifts. Work to build the park began in earnest in 1980. Creation of Radford Park was achieved through labour paid for by the Manpower Services Commission; and tools were purchased from Liss Parish Council who had recently completed a “Riverside Walk” in their parish. The majority of the work was supervised by Wing Cdr. Derry (who was at the time a Bramshott and Liphook Parish Councillor), from the start of the project to the official opening in September 1983.
History of Acquisition
Off Malthouse Meadows (22 acres) – Original 10 acres, adjacent to A3 London Road, purchased from Mr. W. R. Allee on October 31st, 1977. (£6,000)
Approx. 6 acres, between south side of River Wey and Wey Meadow estate, donated as public open space by developers James Miller & Partners, February 3rd, 1982. (Condition of planning permission).
Approx. 6 acres, north of River Wey to Bramshott Place boundary, purchased from Mrs. G. Bone of Guernsey, March 24th, 1983 (£5,000)
Approx. 1 acre of wet land, north of River Wey to boundary with Marshes Hollow, Haslemere Road, purchased from Mrs J Obert February 1990 (£2,000)
An area of wooded land on the edge of Bramshott Place donated by Danbuild in 1997, together with the sum of £14,000 for its upkeep.
Car Park – Constructed by J. J. Bleach & Sons 1980 at the cost of £7,996.
Site Hut – block and timber construction with a tiled roof in fenced compound adjacent to car park. Built by Y.T.S. trainees.
Wayleave in Perpetuity – granted to Southern Electricity for overhead high voltage lines and cables November 23rd, 1982.
Malthouse Meadows frontage in ownership of East Hampshire District Council. Right of way granted for access to car park February 11th, 1980. Vehicular right of way from A3 London Road across Hospital land, for agricultural purposes only, acquired with purchase of Bones’ land 1983.