Each of the eight plots of land that make up today’s park came with a Covenant to safeguard its future. These are often mis-quoted, or the Covenant for one area quoted for another, and so they are listed here for reference, the details are taken from the actual documents held by Warwick District Council. The paragraph numbers correspond to the areas marked on the plan:
1) This is the original 40 acres bought by the Local Board for £6,000 on 12th May 1884:
“… the said pieces or parcels of land and premises hereinbefore expressed to be hereby conveyed shall forever hereafter be solely used as public walks or pleasure grounds under the control of the said Board and that the said pieces or parcels of land shall not nor shall any part thereof at any time hereafter be sold leased or otherwise disposed of for any other purpose inconsistent with the same being solely used as aforesaid.”
2) This is the 13 acres bought by the Preservationists on 12th May 1884 for £3,500, but the covenant dates from 28th November 1884 when the land was conveyed to the churchwardens. At some point in the 1930s the land passed to the KUDC but no further documentation has been found:
“Whereas it would be of great benefit to the inhabitants of Kenilworth that the public grounds dedicated to their use should be of greater extent than the lands so vested in the Board… that the said pieces of land hereinafter described and intended to be conveyed… should forever remain unbuilt upon… for the purposes of the Recreation Grounds Act 1859. The management and direction of the said pieces of land… shall remain in the Kenilworth Local Board to the intent that the same be managed in connection with the public grounds so vested in the said Board. And it is hereby declared that no building or erection shall at any time hereafter be built or erected upon any part of the premises… except such boundary walls or fences as may be considered desirable for separating the said premises from adjoining roads, and except also such gates and gatehouses as may be considered desirable for proving convenient access thereto, the said premises shall for ever remain as open public grounds for the purposes of the said act.
If at any time or times hereafter the said Board shall consider it desirable to widen the public roads, or any of the public roads adjoining the said pieces of land, the Trustees hereof for the time being shall permit the said Board to add to the said public roads, or any of them, and dedicate to the public as roads such portions of the said pieces of land as the said Board shall consider necessary for bringing such road or roads to a convenient width.”
This last paragraph has allowed the widening of Abbey Hill and Rosemary Hill several times, and also for the building of the war memorial; the latter was not put up in the park but on a widening of the highway, thus conforming to the covenant.
3) This area is the three acres around churchyard bought by the Local Board for £400 on 14th March 1889:
“… shall forever hereafter be solely used for public walks and pleasure grounds under the control of the council and the same shall not nor shall any part thereof at any time hereafter be sold leased or disposed of for any other purpose inconsistent with the same being solely used as aforesaid”.
4) This is the small area of land donated by Frank Phelps on 29th November 1912 so he could improve the shape of his garden; he gained from the park 986 sq yds but donated 1473 sq yds:
“… forever hereafter be solely used for public walks and pleasure grounds under the control of the council and the same shall not nor shall any part thereof at any time hereafter be sold leased or disposed of for any other purpose inconsistent with the same being solely used as aforesaid”.
5) This is the plot of land alongside Forrest Road once owned by the Syndicate but donated by Gertrude Evans on 15th February 1917:
“… and whereas it would be of great benefit to the inhabitants of Kenilworth that the public grounds dedicated to their use should be a greater extent than the lands so vested in the Council and that the heriditaments hereafter described should forever remain unbuilt upon… Gertrude Emily Evans… hereby conveys unto the Council and their successors as Trustees for public grounds in Kenilworth… all that piece of land fronting to a road called Forrest Road formerly part of the Abbey Fields… to the use of the Council… to be held by them as public grounds for the purposes of the Recreation Grounds Act 1859 subject to the reservations restrictions and conditions hereinafter contained… the same may be managed in connection with the public grounds vested in the Council… and is hereby also declared that no building or erection shall at any time hereafter be built upon any part of the land hereby conveyed except for boundary walls or fences as may be considered desirable for separating the said premises from the adjoining road and except such gates and gatehouse that may be considered for the purposes of providing access thereto and subject as aforesaid the said land shall forever remain an open space for the purposes of the said act”.
Gertrude Evans also wrote a letter recording her desire that the land was not to be made into “ornamental gardens, and may be kept as open fields”.
6) This is the area of 1.55 acres opposite Clinton House in High Street donated by Gertrude Evans on 22nd October 1938:
“The grantor as settler hereby freely and voluntarily and without valuable consideration conveys unto the Council all that piece or parcel of land formerly part of the Abbey Fields. It is hereby declared and agreed that the land hereby conveyed shall forever hereafter be preserved and kept as nearly as it may be in its natural condition as open grass land and that no buildings or erections of any kind shall at any time be built or erected thereon and that no games of any kind shall be allowed to be played thereon nor shall any artificial means of entertainment be permitted thereon”.
7) The corner amounting to 833 sq yds donated by Councillor H W Whiteman:
“The owner is desirous of conveying by way of gift to the local authority the land in trust for the perpetual use thereto by the public for exercise and recreation purposes pursuant to the provisions of the open spaces act 1906… subject to the building and other covenants and conditions contained in an indenture dated the 24th December 1884 made between Joseph Holland Burbery, William Evans, Samuel Forrest and Luke Heynes.”
“The local authority hereby covenants with the owners not to use the piece of land for any purpose other than those permitted under the provisions of the open spaces act 1906 and in particular that no building whether temporary or otherwise shall be erected or suffered to stand on the said piece of land or any part hereof.”
8) The field behind Little Virginia bought for £4,500 that became known as The Paddock. The Conveyance is dated 30th March 1974 (the KUDC ceased to exist the following day) and included the Covenant:
“(The) purchaser will not at any time build or permit or suffer to be built or erected on the land hereby conveyed any building or buildings of any nature whatsoever”. The land was acquired “for the purposes of the 1906 Open Spaces Act”, and the purchaser agreed to “observe and perform the restrictive and other covenants” that existed as they “are still subsisting and capable of being enforced.”
This was bought with the intention of adding the field to the park but this is yet to happen; it is a Public Open Space to which the public are denied access.
The relevant Acts of Parliament quoted above are as follows.
The Recreation Ground Act of 1859 states:
“Any lands may be lawfully conveyed to trustees, to be held by them as open public grounds for the resort and recreation of adults, and as playgrounds for children and youths, or either of such purposes, and for any estate, and subject to any reservation, restrictions, and conditions which the donor or grantor may see fit.”
And Section 10 of the 1906 Open Spaces Act includes:
“A local authority who have acquired any estate or interest in or control over any open space ….under this Act shall, subject to any conditions under which the estate, interest, or control was so acquired….hold and administer the open space…. in trust to allow, and with a view to, the enjoyment thereof by the public as an open space within the meaning of this Act and under proper control and regulation and for no other purpose.”
More Abbey fields articles:
How the land was acquired Full details on how each plot became part of the park between 1884 and 1974.
Abbey Fields Cycle Path Always under discussion, a complete record of attempts for cycling to return to the park
The Swimming Pool The history of the pool from its origins in the 1890s until the present day, with a number of photographs
Car Parking in the Abbey Fields How the car park came about
Bye-laws The non-observance of bye-laws is often discussed, here you can see them all
Abbey Fields Archaeology A guide to the many archaeological explorations of the Abbey and its surroundings from 1840 to the present day
Abbey Fields Play Equipment Some aspects of the park play equipment, now established over a century
Abbey Fields, 1947 A look at the park as it appeared in the national aerial record of 1947
Abbey Fields Timeline A chronology of the Abbey Fields starting in the ice age!
Return to Abbey Fields home page
See also my book: