Prospect Park, Reading

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Prospect Park
Old trees in Prospect Park - geograph.org.uk - 648054.jpg
View across the park to the Mansion House on the hill
Prospect Park, Reading is located in Reading, Berkshire
Prospect Park, Reading
Location within Reading
Type Public park
Location Reading, Berkshire, UK
Coordinates 51°26′52″N 1°00′33″W / 51.44791°N 1.00911°W / 51.44791; -1.00911Coordinates: 51°26′52″N 1°00′33″W / 51.44791°N 1.00911°W / 51.44791; -1.00911
Area 50 hectares (120 acres)

Prospect Park is a public park in the western suburbs of Reading situated north of the Bath Road in the English county of Berkshire. It is the largest and most popular park in Reading, and includes a large regency style house, now known as Prospect Park Mansion House and previously as Prospect House. There are also sporting facilities and a miniature railway within the 50 hectares (120 acres) of parkland, and a restaurant in the Mansion House.[1][2]

The park is listed as Grade II in the English Heritage Register of Historic Parks and Gardens whilst the Mansion House is a Grade II listed building.[2][3]

History

Prospect Mansion in 1910.

Origins

Originally the site of Dirle's Farm, the land was part of the Calcot Park estate. By the middle of the 18th century, Calcot Park was the home of Frances Kendrick and her husband Benjamin Child, but after Frances's death Benjamin sold the bulk of the estate to John Blagrave, keeping only the eastern part that is now Prospect Park. In the 1760s, Benjamin turned the farmhouse of Dirle's Farm into a mansion. He named the park after its views over Reading; it was formerly known as Prospecthill Park.[4][5][6]

The Liebenrood family

The present regency style house, known as The Mansion House (and originally named Prospect House), was built by John Liebenrood in the late 18th century. John Engelberts Liebenrood (1754-1821) was born in Germany in 1754. His birth name was John Engelberts Ziegenbein and he immigrated to England and obtained naturalisation in 1781.[7] He lived with his great uncle John George Liebenrood, a very wealthy merchant in Purley. When his uncle died in 1795 he inherited his fortune and in accordance with the will changed his name to Liebenrood.[8] In the following year he married Lucy Hancock whose brother was Rear Admiral John Hancock.

Soon after his marriage John commissioned James Wright Sanderson, a pupil of James Wyatt to substantially remodel and enlarge a smaller existing building.[9] The newspapers show that he and his wife Lucy were living in their new home by 1797.[10] John became High Sheriff of Berkshire in 1806. Lucy was known to be a benefactor of the poor.[11] He died in 1821 and Lucy continued to live at Prospect House until her death in 1829. They are both buried in St Mary's Church Purley.

Their son George and daughter Lucy inherited the property but they did not live there. Instead it was rented for many years to William Stephens (1783-1856) who at one time was the Mayor of Reading.[12] He died in 1856 and it was then rented by William Banbury (1813-1893) who was a banker in the firm Fuller Banbury and Co of London.[13] He was also an art collector and when he moved from Prospect Park in 1880 a sale of some of his paintings was held by Christie's at the House.[14]

George and Lucy Liebenrood did not have any children so when they died Prospect Park was inherited by their cousin Captain John Hancock. He changed his name to Liebenrood in 1865 as a condition of the inheritance.[15] John was born in 1813 Prince Edward Island in Canada. His father was Rear Admiral John Hancock. In 1847 he married Eliza Cambridge (1818-1888) the daughter of Lemuel Cambridge, a shipowner of Canada.[16] He entered the navy in 1827 and spent 35 years in the naval service rising to the rank of Captain. He died in 1883 and his wife Elizabeth died in 1888. Both are buried in the Church of St Michael, Tilehurst.

Their son Major George Engelberts Liebenrood (1847-1928) inherited the house after Elizabeth's death. George was born in 1847 on Prince Edward Island, Canada. At the age of 18 he went to the Royal Military College, Sandhurst.[17] He had a distinguished military career and rose to the rank of Major. In 1881 he married Winifred Markham (1858 -1930), the daughter of Arthur Bayley Markham of Glendon. The couple lived at Prospect Park for about fourteen years and then in 1902 they sold it to the Reading Borough Council.

Facilities

The Mansion House and surrounding parkland

Restaurant

After a long period of dereliction, the Mansion House in the centre of the park has been restored and now houses a Harvester restaurant.[18]

Parkland

The area surrounding the Mansion House has broad sweeps of short cut grass, with areas of meadow grassland. A pond lies to the south of the house and attracts an assortment of wildlife, while 'The Rookery' can be found to the north - a mature oak woodland and Wildlife Heritage Site. In the south-eastern corner of the park, the Reading Society of Model Engineers runs a miniature railway, which is open to the public on certain days.[1][19]

Sports

The park has facilities for a number of sports, including rugby, tennis, bowls, basketball, and table tennis. It also hosts a weekly park run, held over a distance of 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) every Saturday at 9:00 am.[1][20]

The first race in the Hampshire League Cross Country series in 2013 was held in the park.[21] Other races in the park have included The Color Run[22] and Cancer Research UK's Race for Life.[23]

References

George Engelberts Liebenrood who sold the house to Reading Borough Council
  1. ^ a b c "Prospect Park". Reading Borough Council. Archived from the original on 26 June 2019. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Prospect Park Management and Maintenance Plan" (PDF). Reading Borough Council. January 2009. Archived (PDF) from the original on 1 July 2019. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  3. ^ "Prospect House, Prospect Park, Reading". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  4. ^ "Sheet 268 - Reading (Outline)". National Library of Scotland. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  5. ^ Phillips, Daphne (1980). The Story of Reading. Countryside Books. p. 141. ISBN 0-905392-07-8.
  6. ^ Phillips, Daphne (1980). The Story of Reading. Countryside Books. p. 95. ISBN 0-905392-07-8.
  7. ^ Letters of denization and acts of naturalization for aliens in England and Ireland , p. 187. Online reference
  8. ^ Reading Mercury - Monday 02 February 1795, p. 3.
  9. ^ English Heritage List. “Prospect Park” Online reference
  10. ^ Reading Mercury - Monday 2 October 1797, p. 4.
  11. ^ Dearing, John 2013 “Reading Book of Days”. Online reference
  12. ^ Berkshire Chronicle - Saturday 26 April 1856, p. 4.
  13. ^ Berkshire Chronicle - Saturday 25 March 1893, p. 2.
  14. ^ Reading Mercury - Saturday 05 June 1880, p. 5.
  15. ^ The London Gazette 17 January 1865, p. 214. online reference
  16. ^ Illustrated London News - Saturday 26 May 1883, p. 21.
  17. ^ Kent & Sussex Courier - Friday 30 November 1928, p. 2.
  18. ^ "The Mansion House". Mitchells & Butlers. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  19. ^ "Reading Society of Model Engineers". Reading Society of Model Engineers. Archived from the original on 9 November 2016. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  20. ^ "Prospect parkrun". parkrun Limited. Archived from the original on 27 April 2019. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  21. ^ "Prospect Park, Reading". Hampshire Athletics. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  22. ^ "READING Rainbow Run!". Helen and Douglas House. Archived from the original on 18 July 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  23. ^ "Reading Prospect Park". Cancer Research UK. Archived from the original on 19 July 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2014.

External links

  • Reading Borough Council - Prospect Park
  • Royal Berkshire History: The Legend of the 'Berkshire Lady
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