Best places to relax in Reading, Maidenhead, Newbury and Slough
PUBLISHED: 10:27 15 June 2015 | UPDATED: 10:27 15 June 2015
Enjoying the great outdoors doesn’t always mean heading for the wilds. Maureen McLean found some town centre beauties just a few steps from the hustle and bustle
It’s not just about the splendid shops and businesses here, Reading has over 100 parks and playgrounds, including Prospect Park and Forbury Gardens. We discovered a beautiful spot to linger in at the King George V Memorial Gardens in Eldon Square. It’s a lovely place to sit peacefully in the sunshine with a good book, with welcoming trees if you fancy some shade.
The park was developed by William Wilson Morley between 1835 and 1840 and is a perfect reflection of Reading’s Georgian inheritance. It was bought by the Corporation of Reading in 1944. Keeping an eye on you is a statue of the Marquess of Reading (1860 – 1935) and former Viceroy of India by Charles Jagger. The statue was originally in a Delhi park but was removed and found a new home in the memorial gardens in 1971.
The town centre is undergoing a sparkling transformation at the same time as Crossrail approaches. Just a few steps from the rail station is Grenfell Park, given as a public space by William Grenfell, Lord Desborough, in 1889. It’s possible that many of the unusual trees here were grown from seeds he gathered on his travels. A surprise find is a Finnbaker cannon, a replacement for an original Howitzer called Mafikeng donated by William Waldorf Astor in 1900 in memory of Maidonians who died during The Boer War. Cross the nearby A4 and you find Kidwells Park, gifted to the town in 1890 by one JDM Pearce, who was mayor of Maidenhead five times.
Victoria Park, a short walk from the town centre stores including Parkway shopping centre, is a precious spot for local people with family attractions including a boating lake, canal wildlife and bandstand. Originally the area was known as The Marsh but was renamed in 1901 as soldiers returning from the Boer War were welcomed back to Newbury. It’s not always had the care and attention many would like, but now plays an important part in Newbury 2025 – A Vision for Newbury Town Centre. Not surprisingly, there’s a statue of Queen Victoria, but it only arrived in 1966 having previously been at Market Place and then Greenham House for 30 years prior to finally reaching the park.
It might surprise some readers to know that one of the most beautiful places we found was Herschel Park in the town better known for its Trading Estate, M4 junctions and shopping centre. This elegant Victorian park provides the ultimate escape from the cares of the working day with its lake, winding paths and ornate borders. Among the trees are an unusual Lucombe oak and a triple-stemmed deodar cedar thought to be part of the original planting. The park was bought by Slough Corporation at the end of the 1940s and named after the town’s famous astronomer. In the 1980s adjoining land became a nature reserve, providing a more natural ‘companion’ for the formal gardens. In 2002 Herschel Park was given Grade II listing by English Heritage and five years ago was restored to its glorious past, courtesy of a Heritage Fund lottery grant and the work of Slough Borough Council and local volunteers.
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