University Parks

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University Parks
Park at northeast of the Oxford city center
Park at northeast of the Oxford city center
Type Public park
Location Oxford, England
Area 74 acres (30 ha)
Owned by University of Oxford

The Oxford University Parks, commonly referred to locally as the University Parks, the Uni Parks or just The Parks, is a large parkland area slightly northeast of the city centre in Oxford, England. The park is bounded to the west by the River Cherwell, though a small plot of land called Mesopotamia sits between the upper and lower levels of the river. To the north of the parks is the Norham Gardens, to the west Parks Road, and the Science Area on South Parks Road to the south. The park is open to the public during the day, and has gardens, large sports fields, and exotic plants. It includes a cricket ground used by Oxford University Cricket Club.


North Lodge, at the entrance to the Parks where Norham Gardens meets Parks Road.

Part of the land on which the Parks is located had long been used for recreation and formed part of the University Walks, and it is said to have been used by Charles II to walk his dog in 1685.[1] The land originally belonged to Merton College, and in 1853/1854, the University of Oxford purchased 20 acres (8.1 ha) acres from Merton College to build the parks.[2] Over an eleven-year period a total of 91 acres (37 ha) of land was eventually acquired.[3] A portion of this land (4 acres) was set aside for the University Museum which was built between 1855 and 1860.[1] Between 1912 and early 1950s, a further portion was used to build the Science Area, so the current site is measured at about 74 acres (30 ha).

The Parks was laid out in 1864, and the work supervised by William Baxter who was later appointed the first superintendent of the parks in 1866.[4] Parts of the Parks were designated to be used for sports and recreational purposes. 25 acres of the land had been set aside as the University Cricket Grounds, and the cricket pavilion was built in 1881. The Parks is also used for other sports such as rugby football, hockey, lacrosse, tennis and croquet. The rest of The Parks was designed as an arboretum, and the first trees was planted in 1865.[2] A number of other features have been added over the years.

Walter Sawyer has been superintendent of the Parks since 1991.[5]

Points of interest

The duck pond in the Parks.
Cricket pavilion
Gravel paths in the Parks.
View of the park in the morning light

The following features of the Parks are of special interest:

  • Cricket pavilion — the pavilion was designed by Sir Thomas Jackson (who also designed the University's Examination Schools). The cricket ground and pavilion are used by the Oxford University Cricket Club. The cricket ground is the only first-class cricket ground in the UK where spectators can watch free of charge. The two ends of the pitch are the Pavilion End and the Norham Gardens End.[6]
  • Seven large giant sequoias planted in about 1888.
  • A duck pond with water lilies and a small island, constructed in 1925.
  • High Bridge, built in 1923–24 as a relief project for the unemployed. It is usually called Rainbow Bridge, because of its shape.
  • Genetic Garden — an experimental garden established by Professor Cyril Darlington to demonstrate evolutionary processes.
  • Styphnolobium japonicum, known as the Japanese Pagoda Tree. Planted in 1888.
  • Coronation Clump, a clump of trees planted to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
Rainbow Bridge

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 G.R. Evans (30 April 2010). The University of Oxford: A New History. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 9780857730251. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "A Historical Guide". University of Oxford. 
  3. "Introduction to The University Parks". University of Oxford. 
  4. "Pavilion". Oxford University. 
  5. "Superintendents, 1866 - Present Day". The University Parks, Oxford. Retrieved 28 March 2011. 
  6. "The University Parks, Oxford". Cricket Archive. 

External links

Coordinates: 51°45′43.56″N 1°15′16.44″W / 51.7621000°N 1.2545667°W / 51.7621000; -1.2545667