If you’re planning a Scarborough trip, you must visit Peasholm Park. Here’s all you need to know.
Just 5 minutes from Scarborough Seafront is a total change of scenery! Peasholm Park was opened in 1912 and has been a popular tourist destination ever since. It covers an area of around 14 acres and is located in the North Bay area of Scarborough. With so much to see and do here, we wrote this handy article covering all you need to know when visiting Peasholm Park.
What is Peasholm Park?
Peasholm Park is a public park in Scarborough that opened in 1912 and has been a well-loved destination for over a century. The park was designed to be a tranquil spot for visitors, featuring a lake, gardens, and winding paths. It has an oriental theme with a pagoda and a large cascade waterfall as its centrepiece. The park is open year-round and is free to enter. It is often voted as one of the UK’s best parks and is currently ranked at number 6. It’s also been voted one of the best 25 parks in Europe.
History of Peasholm Park
Peasholm Park’s history dates to 1911 when the Borough purchased Tuckers Field to create a new park around a lake. Mr Harry W. Smith had the idea of designing the gardens in a Japanese style which was innovative at the time and led to the creation of the unique Peasholm Park.
The park’s original Japanese statues were purchased from Killerby Hall (now known as Flamingo Land), and exotic flowers and shrubs were brought from the French Riviera and planted in the Glen. Work on the Island and lake construction began in December 1911, and by the following summer, phase one of Peasholm Park was ready for the public, and it immediately became one of Scarborough’s top attractions.
Peasholm Park’s popularity continued to grow, and between 1923 and 1932, it was the central location in Scarborough for all fetes, galas, and firework displays. To accommodate the crowds, terraced seating was constructed in 1924. Phase two of the park began in 1924, and by 1932, Peasholm Glen was incorporated into Peasholm. In 1927, the Naval Warfare attraction was introduced, which still exists today. George W. Alderson designed the Pagoda and cascade on the Island in 1929.
Peasholm Park faced challenges in the 1970s and 1980s as fewer people visited Scarborough for their annual holiday. The lowest point for Peasholm was in October 1999 when vandals burned down the Pagoda. The town was horrified, but the Island was closed to the public as no money was available to rebuild. The Heritage Lottery Fund Grant enabled the Borough Council to reconstruct the Pagoda in its original form, using fire retardant wood. The Half-moon Bridge connecting the Island to the mainland was also replaced, the cascade upgraded, and the gardens restored and made even more beautiful. The Peasholm Park Friends contributed significantly to the regeneration of Peasholm Park.
History source: https://peasholmpark.com/about/history-of-the-park.html
Things to do at Peasholm Park
There are plenty of activities to enjoy at Peasholm Park. You can take a leisurely stroll around the lake, admiring the waterfalls, streams, and wildlife. If you’re feeling more active, rent a rowboat or pedal boat and explore the lake from the water. The park also hosts various events throughout the year, including concerts, fairs, and fireworks displays.
Enjoy a boat ride
If you’re looking for a unique and exciting way to spend a sunny day, why not try boating in a dragon boat, swan, or canoe? You can spin around the lake in a 3-5 seater dragon boat. The oriental backdrop gives a stunning view, making the experience extremely popular.
Peasholm Park boating is open on select days of the year, with most activity happening on weekends, half terms, and summer holidays. If boating yourself doesn’t sound like your thing, you can opt for a Swan Launch Princess boat ride where someone else does the work for you! Remember that this activity is extremely popular, so there may be a wait at the hire counter. But trust us; it’s worth it for the fun and excitement!
Watch the Peasholm Park Naval Warfare battle!
A must-see at the park is the Naval Warfare battle re-enactment, a thrilling spectacle that takes place on the lake. Visitors are treated to an incredible mock naval battle between miniature boats, complete with pyrotechnics. This popular show has been entertaining tourists since 1927, making it one of the longest-running shows of all time. It’s no wonder why this unique performance still draws in thousands of visitors every year and has even gained international attention being featured on the BBC. Don’t miss out on experiencing “the smallest manned navy in the world” in action!
Play mini golf
Missed out on mini golf during your seaside holiday? Don’t worry; there’s still a chance to experience it. Head over to Peasholm Park and challenge your loved ones to a game of pitch and putt. The scenic beauty of Northstead Manor Drive and the park will only add to your excitement. Keep in mind that the pitch and putt course is open on specific days.
Dates for the above events and activities can be found here.
Walk the Peasholm Park Tree Trail
If you have a love for all things green and growing, you won’t want to miss the chance to explore the incredible collection of plants and trees at Peasholm Park. In fact, the park has become known for its impressive selection of Champion Trees – those that are the largest, widest, or tallest of their species across the UK. To help visitors discover these special trees, the Friends of Peasholm Park have created a tree trail that takes you on a journey through the park’s most exceptional tree specimens. From American Red Oaks to Eucalyptus trees, a London Plane, and many types of Palms and Cucumber Tree, you’ll be amazed at the diversity of the park’s flora. But the most incredible discovery of all was a pair of Dickson’s Golden Elm trees – a species that was thought to be extinct until they were rediscovered in 2004. Sadly, Dutch Elm Disease wiped out most of these trees in the 1970s, but Peasholm Park is now home to two of these rare specimens, one of which is now a Champion Tree. Make sure you don’t miss the chance to see these remarkable trees for yourself!
Cross over the Arched Bridge to Peasholm Park Island
Whenever we visit Peasholm Park, we always make sure to cross over the picturesque arched wooden bridge that leads to Peasholm Island. As we walk across the bridge, we love watching the dragon boats that float beneath us. Once we reach the island, we either take a leisurely stroll along the loop walking trail that goes around the island or climb up the hill to reach the Pagoda at the top. The view from the top is breathtaking, and you’ll be rewarded with an incredible oriental planned garden complete with archways, arched bridges, and beautiful Japanese blossoms, trees, and shrubs all around a stunning lake. The Peasholm Park Pagoda is the centrepiece of the gardens, originally designed in 1929 by George W. Alderson. While you can’t go inside the pagoda, climbing up the steps and walking around the outside will give you some of the best views of the waterfall cascade and the park.
Learn about the legend of the Willow Pattern
Peasholm Island’s design was inspired by a scene depicted on the iconic willow pattern plate. However, many people mistakenly believe that the romantic legend surrounding the plate is a traditional Chinese tale. The legend was created by a pottery manufacturer in England as a marketing ploy to boost sales.
However, like any great story, the willow pattern possesses magic, captivating countless individuals’ imaginations across generations. There are several variations on the legend, but the essence of the tale is this:
There was a wealthy Mandarin who had a beautiful daughter named Koong-se. He also employed a secretary named Chang. Every evening, Chang and Koong-se secretly met beneath a weeping willow tree by the river and expressed their love for each other. However, when the Mandarin discovered their affair, he was enraged. In his eyes, Chang was not good enough for his daughter. So he banished Chang forever and ordered a massive fence around his estate to ensure they would never cross paths again.
Not long after the Mandarin informed Koong-se of her engagement to a wealthy warrior duke named Ta-jin, she spent her days wandering the gardens and gazing at the river, lost in thoughts of Chang. However, she noticed a small boat made from a coconut shell floating in the water one day. Inside was a note from Chang! Koong-se responded with a message detailing her impending marriage. The night of the grand reception for the engagement arrived, and the duke presented his bride-to-be with a box of priceless jewels. Koong-se was devastated, convinced that Chang would have saved her by now. But little did she know Chang was on his way. Disguised as a servant, he slipped past the guests unnoticed and went to Koong-se’s room. They hugged each other tightly and decided to escape together without delay.
The couple took Koong-se’s new jewels as they passed the drunken guests. However, their escape plan was ruined when the Mandarin suddenly woke up and spotted them. He chased them across the bridge, brandishing a whip in his hand. The scene was depicted on a willow pattern plate, with three figures running across the bridge. Koong-se led the way, followed by Chang carrying the jewels, and the Mandarin bringing up the rear.
Despite the danger, the couple managed to escape by boat and fled to a faraway island where they could live peacefully. They resided in a beautiful pagoda surrounded by lush foliage, also depicted on the plate.
However, the Mandarin and the Duke were determined to kill Chang and used the theft of the jewels as an excuse. Their spies scoured the land for the couple and eventually found them. With the spies closing in on their home, Koong-se set their house on fire, resulting in their deaths.
But their love was so strong that the gods granted them immortality, and their souls transformed into two doves, soaring into the sky. Their love was forever free and a symbol of eternal love. So, `as you visit the park that inspired this story, you can imagine it coming to life before your very eyes.
Where can you eat at Peasholm Park?
The Peasholm Park Café is situated right on the lakeside, so you can either sit inside or enjoy their outdoor seating. It’s a delightful spot to soak up the sunshine while gazing at the waterfall and watching dragon boats glide by. If you’re in the mood for food the café offers sandwiches, hot lunches, cakes and plenty of drinks all at a reasonable price. And if you’re on-the-go, you can always grab something to take away.
There are also several picnic areas throughout the park, so you can bring your own food and enjoy a leisurely lunch in the sunshine.
How to get to Peasholm Park
It’s close to North Bay Beach, and you can access the park within a few minutes’ walk from there.
By car: If you plan to drive to the location, use the postcode YO12 7TR on your Satnav. There are two pay-and-display car parks nearby, or you can park for free on Peasholm Drive with a parking disc from a local hotel, restaurant, or shop.
By foot: Accessing the location from South Bay is easy and scenic; walk down from Scarborough Castle along the coast.
By bus: If you prefer public transport, take the 843 Coastliner bus from Scarborough train station, which stops outside the entrance at the dedicated bus stop.
Are dogs allowed at Peasholm Park?
Yes! Well behaved dogs are allowed into Peasholm Park but must be kept on a lead. Dog Owners are also welcome to use any of the litter bins around to dispose of dog mess.
In conclusion, Peasholm Park is a must-visit destination for anyone travelling to Scarborough. With its serene surroundings, historical features, and fun activities, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. So, pack a picnic, grab your camera, and head to Peasholm Park for a day of relaxation and adventure. Let us know if you have ever visited in the comments.