Bounded on two sides by the River Avon, Churchill Gardens has two play parks, an outdoor gym, a skate park, parkour park, street sports court and a network of narrow canals which are perfect for playing pooh sticks. The park is a popular place with the locals, yet is often overlooked by visitors to the city.
Located on the south of the city, Churchill Gardens is often missed by visitors, who quite rightly do their best to avoid the over crowded and unattractive Southampton Road it is set on. It is possible however to access the park via the Cathedral Close, thereby avoiding most of the ugliness of Southampton Road, and it is a walk worth doing, as Churchill Gardens has a lot to offer.
How to get to Churchill Gardens (avoiding the Southampton Road)
After a gentle stroll through the Cathedral Close, exit it via the Harnham Gate (w3w: badge.money.herbs) and walk to the end of De Vaux Place (w3w: hang.bonds.above). Cross the road and follow the curved wall round to the left. Follow the path, it will lead you into an underpass (w3w: open.droves.foal). Keep following the path, over a small bridge, and you will find yourself in Churchill Gardens (w3w: exile.winner.sites).
Churchill Gardens is a large open green space filled with mature trees, shrubs and flower beds.
There are plenty of places for picnics, benches with river views and for groups to gather for outdoor games.
It is popular with all ages, with something for kids, teenagers and adults, as well as the usual dog walkers, who fortunately tend to pick up after their dogs.
Churchill Gardens for Kids
There are two play parks in Churchill Gardens - one for younger kids with swings, slides, climbing frames and a pirate ship. On the other side of the park is one for older kids with a zip wire, slide, swings, climbing frame and more.
The network of River Avon tributaries across the park provide handy places for Pooh sticks and the banks of the river have some great spots for feeding the swans and ducks.
Churchill Gardens for Teenagers
The park is opposite the campus which has both Wiltshire College and Salisbury 6th form centre on it, making the park a popular place for teenagers. They are well provided for here and the skate park, parkour park and sports court are often filled with active kids messing about on bikes, scooters or skate boards.
The skate park was recently revamped and has plenty of ramps to keep them busy.
The parkour park was installed only last year and has proved to be popular with the flourishing parkour groups in the area.
The street sports court is full sized and caters for basketball, football, rollerblading & street hockey.
Churchill Gardens for Fitness
Another recent addition to the gardens is a green gym, which saw the installation of lots of different types of outdoor gym equipment placed at different locations around the park. They are surprisingly good and durable, and are an excellent place to train for free.
The park also has a walking trail around it, where you can follow the footprints on the ground.
Churchill Gardens is also home to the local Park Run, which has been a popular event since its inception and is a free timed 5km run or walk for all.
Churchill Gardens for Photography
There are some surprisingly good spots for landscape photography in Churchill Gardens. The park has cathedral views, where you can see the spire in the near distance. Over the flood plain is the old 19th century eel trap - a rather picturesque building which bridges the river and can look amazing with the sun on it. The river itself provides some fantastic shots, and there is some sociable wildlife which lives near it, often posing for some lovely nature photos.
Memorials in Churchill Gardens
The Airmen Memorial
Squadron Leader Frank Cooke and Flight Lieutenant Phillip Hyden died when their plane crashed on November 27, 1955, in what is now Churchill Gardens.
On a routine test flight in a Canberra Bomber from Boscombe Down, it is believed that when they knew they were going to crash, they diverted their plane away from built up areas to save civilian lives.
The Titanic bench
Eileen McNamee was a Salisbury resident who was headed to New York with her husband Neal, for him to take up a position at Liptons Export Stores. Both third class passengers, she refused to leave her husband when the lifeboats filled up with women and children, and both of them were drowned. Her body was recovered some ten days later, but his was never found. There is a bench facing the river with a plaque dedicated to them both, and she is also pictured in the nearby Milford Street Mural.
History of Churchill Gardens
Opened in 1972, the park is named after Prime Minister Churchill. Historically however, the area was named 'Bugmore' from the 13th century onwards, when the area was boggy marshland.
The River Avon flanks two sides of the park and the park still floods in heavy rain, with paths often disappearing after a deluge.
A workhouse was built on the site, which stayed in use until a new one was built in Crane Street in 1623, the buildings of which are still there today.
The site in Bugmore became a Pesthouse, used to house people with communicable diseases such as typhus, cholera or smallpox. In 1763, a subscription was opened for a Smallpox Hospital, and Viscount Folkestone bought land and a house in Bugmore for its use.
By the 19th Century, the land was in use as garden allotments and a sewage processing plant, as sewage had previously been pumped raw into the River Avon. Bacteria beds and a refuse destructor were built later on. By the mid 20th Century, the sewage plant was moved further south, and a housing estate, the Friary, was built on much of the land.
By 1960, the colleges were built near the park, and the concrete monstrosity of Salisbury's ring road was constructed, leaving the park area bounded by two major roads. Some judicious tree planting has however managed to hide much of them from the park.
VISITING CHURCHILL GARDENS
How to get to Churchill Gardens
Postcode: SP1 2HS
Public Transport: Churchill Gardens are easily accessible by bus, with several stops along Southampton Road.