History of Alexandra Park
Plant nursery to pleasure grounds
Created from disused brick fields in 1864 as a subscription garden, Alexandra Park began life as a humble plant nursery during the 1850’s.
By 1859 it fell under the control of the Hastings Corporation, who made it their aim to turn the area into a public space and originally opened the park as St Andrew’s Pleasure Grounds.
Over the next 20 years facilities including a refreshment tent were added and in 1867 the Gas Board Band was given permission to play in the gardens and the bandstand was erected.
Robert Marnock design
In 1877 renowned landscape gardener Robert Marnock began one of his last works, introducing plants and shrubs to the park on a budget of £250. Marnock had designed the layout for Dunorlan Park, Tunbridge Wells, and Sheffield Botanical Gardens as well as Warwick Castle Rose Garden and Peacock Garden. Unfortunately there are no surviving plans or drawings indicating the extent of Robert Marnock's work.
About two thirds of the lower park is still enclosed by iron railings which survive from Marnock's scheme in the 1870s.
The Prince and Princess of Wales (Princess Alexandra) officially opened the park on June 26 1882 and the Park was renamed in honour of the Princess.
The Hastings Corporation and then the Borough Council have extended the park to its present boundaries of more than 100 acres by acquiring the land between Buckshole Reservoir and Old Roar Ghyll. This happened in stages between 1930 and 1996.
This area contains the remains of some 2,000 trees that were planted as an evenue by local schoolchildren in 1937 to commemorate the coronation of King George VI.
Ponds & Reservoirs
Several catchment ponds feed through to Buckshole Resrvoir which was built in 1851. Harmer's and Shornden Reservoirs were constructed in 1852-3.
The house at the park gates is called Saxonhurst and was built by Joseph Catt in 1870. Two statues of Norman knights at one time stood in the garden of the house.
Built in 1880, Burnside Lodge sits at the north-east end of the lawns in the upper park.
A massive £3.4 million was invested during the late 90s/early 00s to regenerate Alexandra Park using Robert Marnock’s original plans from the 1870s. The park was officially re-opened in April 2004 by the Mayor of Hastings and TV gardener Charlie Dimmock.