Peace and tranquillity in the Wellhead Park
The town is blessed with many open spaces but none more pleasant than the Wellhead Park, an area of parkland just a short step from the shops and offices where many go for a spot of peace and relaxation. The best time to visit is in spring because the main path is lined with ornamental cherry trees that produce a mass of magnificent blossom each year although there is still much to see whichever time you go.
The land was originally meadows known as Wellhead Fields and Baldock's Paddock but purchased from the Marquess of Exeter by Bourne United Charities in 1945 to be preserved as a permanent open space for the town. The 21 acres were developed in the years following the Second World War as parkland open to the public under the terms of a bequest from Alderman Thomas Whyment Atkinson who left property at Haconby to provide income for this purpose, and also enabled the development of the War Memorial and surrounding gardens which opened in 1956 and is now the centrepiece for our annual Remembrance Sunday service and for brass band concerts in the summer months.
It is difficult to imagine that the area was once grazing land for farm stock and St Peter’s Pool little more than a pond but to know what it looked like a century ago is a realisation of the work that has been done since. The pool, or Wellhead, is one of England’s most ancient artesian wells, circular and clay-lined and reputedly fed by seven springs which never dry up, although this source is now tapped by Anglian Water to provide domestic and commercial supplies for a large catchment area. The water attracts wildlife and black swans, normally indigenous to Australia and Tasmania, have made their home here, much to the delight of visitors, especially children.
The old stone property that can be found in the park, nestling behind high hedges, dates back to the 18th century and was formerly part of the Castle Farm, built in the local style with a Collyweston slate roof and rubble and limestone walls. It is now owned by Bourne United Charities and rented as a private home to suitable tenants and is known appropriately as the Wellhead Cottage. Its aspect presents such a peaceful scene that it is difficult to believe the hustle and bustle of the town centre is just a few paces away.
Grassy mounds in the park also remind us that this place contains the earliest traces of a settlement in Bourne and may have been the site of successive Saxon and Norman fortifications while the Shippon Barn nearby is reputed to have been constructed from the remains of the old castle and is now used by the guide and scout organisations.
The Wellhead Gardens have become a haven of peace in the town and new initiatives are currently underway to create environments that will attract more flora and fauna. The Bourne Eau runs through and weeping willow and horse chestnut trees abound together with many other species while new seating and waste bins have been installed as part of an ongoing programme of maintenance and improvement to ensure that this amenity can be enjoyed in the future. Beyond is the Wellhead Field, once known as Hereward’s Field and now leased to South Kesteven District Council and containing a play area for children but as in past years still a venue for major annual events which attract large crowds on Bank Holidays during the spring and summer.
Text and photographs © REX NEEDLE 2010.