Explore Coventry’s War Memorial Park
Ann Evans continues to explore Coventry’s parks, join her at the War Memorial Park.
Coventry’s War Memorial Park has been a popular place to walk, relax, exercise and enjoy for generations of families – ever since it opened in 1921 in remembrance of the 2,587 Coventrians who died in the First World War. As well as 120 acres of beautiful open parkland it has been the venue for countless festivals and fun for almost 100 years.
The Park was originally planted with 200 trees and many more have been planted since. Most have a bronze memorial stone carved in remembrance of a member of the Armed Forces who served their country.
The War Memorial Park was inaugurated on 8th October 1927 by Field Marshall Earl Haig. The ceremony was attended by around 50,000 people, many of them ex-service personnel. The prominent white stone War Memorial itself stands around 90ft (27m) tall, made of reinforced concrete and clad with Portland stone, created in an Art Deco style.
The memorial was rededicated after the Second World War by 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, and the park and memorial were restored in 2011 with funding by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery Fund. The monument was designated as a Grade II listed building in 2013. At the same time, the park itself was listed at Grade II and the gates and gate posts at the park’s main entrance were separately Grade II listed. On 17 July 2014, in a ceremony performed by Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, the Memorial Park was the first of 500 parks to be dedicated as a Centenary Field.
Tree lined avenues lead in and out from the Memorial, and if you look closely you will see around the base of the tower, discs set in the stonework bearing the names of five soldiers associated with Coventry who were awarded the Victoria Cross.
The mammoth task of compiling a list of names of people lost during the First World War was given to the Coventry City Librarian, Charles Nowell. This roll was originally housed inside the Memorial but now, along with the subsequent Second World War roll is kept at The Herbert Museum and Art Gallery in the City Centre but are brought to the park annually on Remembrance Sunday and Heritage Open Days.
It’s a perfect park for all ages. Families with children can enjoy the play areas where, as well as normal swings and play apparatus, there’s climbing rope equipment for the more adventurous children, a skateboard park, and a water park for summer (Covid free) days. There are tennis courts, a bowling green, a golf course, vast sports fields, cafes and a Visitors’ Centre. Pathways for joggers and cyclists, perfect for pushchairs and wheelchairs.
The rose garden with each bed planted in memory of a particular branch of the Armed Forces is a delight in summer when all the roses are in bloom, along with the many beautiful flower beds which are a riot of colour from early spring. It’s a dog friendly park with vast areas of fields and open ground for dogs to exercise off lead, and more formal areas where owners put them back on leads to enjoy the lovely shady walks.
There’s a huge car park and not only is parking free, it’s also a Park and Ride destination, if visitors want to explore the nearby City Centre. The railway station is also just a short walk away, and the area surrounding the park is rich in woodland. A beautiful park to visit at any time of the year.
Find out more: www.coventry.gov.uk/wmp