Boasts a famous lilac collection

Please note that this text is an extract from a reference work written in 1990.  As a result, some of the content may not reflect recent research, changes and events.

d) WITHDEAN PARK: Covering thirty-eight acres, Withdean Park is one of the most beautiful of Brighton’s parks, carefully laid out with ornamental shrubs and flowers. Originally farm land, the park site was acquired by the corporation in July 1933 to prevent its development, chiefly through the efforts of Sir Herbert Carden. The buildings at the bottom of Peacock Lane, including the old manor house, were demolished in 1936, but the new park was kept in an informal state until the Second World War when it was given over for food production. After the war it was initially used as allotments before reverting to parkland, and a long debate followed over its future use with suggestions that a school should be built. However, from 1960 Withdean Park has been developed as a horticultural exhibit of specific genera, especially Berberis, Cotoneaster, Viburnum, and floribunda roses, with new varieties added as they become available. The park is also famous for its collection of lilacs, the second largest in the world with over 250 types, and has been designated by the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens as the National Reference Collection for the species and cultivars of the genus Syringa (lilacs).
A delightful bog-garden with two lily-ponds has been laid out in a natural bowl near the south-western corner, on the site of the manor house. However, the great storm of October 1987 devastated the park’s trees, and virtually wiped out the neighbouring woodland which had stood since at least the mid nineteenth century when it was planted by the Roe family of Withdean.

Any numerical cross-references in the text above refer to resources in the Sources and Bibliography section of the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder.

Comments about this page

  • The central park is also widely known and loved as “The Puppy Park”. Due to the fencing created to keep rabbits away from the lilacs it is a perfect place for young dogs to come for training and socialisation. Dogs of any age continue to come and enjoy their freedom while owners keep a close eye on them, but are able to relax as they cannot (easily) get out. The Friends of Withdean Park are very active, and there is a lot of cross-over with the dog walking community. Social events pop up throughout the year and a good spirit prevails. There are regular busy bees to take on small works and maintenance also. The park is also! the site of orienteering activities. Will put a reference up at some point.

    By Libby Davy (01/12/2010)
  • Interestingly informative.

    By Suzanne Barley (18/06/2015)

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