Bradgate Park

From Academic Kids

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Rocks, Old John and the War Memorial
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Bradgate Hall, with Old John and the Leicestershire War Memorial on the skyline

Bradgate Park is a public park in Leicestershire, England, just northwest of Leicester. It covers 850 acres (3 km²). The park lies between the villages of Newton Linford, Anstey, Cropston, Woodhouse Eaves and Swithland. The River Lin runs through the park, flowing into Cropston Reservoir which was constructed on part of the park. To the north lies Swithland Wood.



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Old John

The park was cleared by the Greys of Groby in the 15th century; the construction of Bradgate House was begun in 1490 by Sir John Grey, the husband of Elizabeth Woodville and the ruins of the house are still visible at the centre of the park. The house was the birthplace of Lady Jane Grey, later a puppet queen who ruled for a mere 9 days before being overthrown by Mary I. A much later park landmark is the folly known as 'Old John' on the top of the highest hill in the park, built in 1784. This was also built by the Greys of Groby, who were by then Earls of Stamford. In 1928 the park was bought from the heirs of the Greys by Charles Bennion, who gave it in perpetuity to the people of Leicestershire.


The geology of the park is mainly Precambrian, and some of the earliest multicellular lifeforms are known from fossils discovered in the park in 1957 (Charnia masoni).

Flora and fauna

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Red deer

The landscape is rocky moorland with a covering of coarse grass and bracken. Several spinneys of woodland (pine and mixed deciduous) are enclosed by stone walls, and are not accessible to the public. The park is home to herds of red deer and roe deer. Birdlife is profuse - the reservoir attracts many species of wildfowl, as does the river, and the spinneys provide secluded nesting areas for many other species, including large colonies of rooks. Species such as yellowhammer, reed bunting, skylark and reed warbler are a common sight in the open areas of the park.


There are pay car parks at Cropston Reservoir, Newton Linford, and Hunts Hill (at the top of the park near Old John). The park is open from dawn until dusk all year round, though the public footpaths which run through the area mean that in practice the park is always accessible. There is a visitors' centre (with cafe) at Newton Linford, and another in the centre of the park near Bradgate House (under reconstruction in 2005). The park is administered by the Bradgate Park and Swithland Wood Charitable Trust, trustees are nominated by Leicestershire County Council, Leicester City Council and the National Trust.


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