Rothamsted Park

Size: 20.13 hectares (49.75 acres)
Designation: Recreational amenity grassland, play areas, woodland and wildlife habitats
Habitats:  Spring and summer, meadow, hedgerows ,woodland and scrub
Accessibility: The Lime Tree Avenue footpath runs through the Park and other paths link the recreational facilities including the entrances to the play area, leisure centre, Eric Morecambe Centre and car parks.
Facilities: Car park, football pitches, cricket pitches, tennis courts, Multi Use Games Area, playgound, skate park, nature trails and benches.   
Walking time: 30 minutes to 1 hour, with footpaths connecting to Rothamsted Estate

Rothamsted Park is an important recreational space, well known for its beauty, diversity and history. It is a much-treasured open space and welcomes many visitors every day. Our aspiration is to maintain and enhance this Park to a high standard and ensure no inappropriate development is taken forward.

Rothamsted Park has a country park feel and appearance, with wide open spaces broken up by mature oaks of former hedge lines. There are additional pockets of woodland planting, and the main Avenue is dominated by lines of mature limes on both sides. Almost the entire Park is laid out on gently sloping land, with gradients in several directions. There are several entrances to the Park, the main being on Leyton Road, from there it is a short walk to the Rose Garden with its tranquil seating areas, the play park, tennis and netball courts, MUGA and other sports pitches. Further into the Park you can access the Eric Morecambe Centre, arts and theatre and the Harpenden Leisure Centre and skatepark. In 2023 we also opened our Artificial Grass Football Pitch, home to Harpenden Town FC and Colts FC, a first class addition to Rothamsted Park of which we are very proud.


Rothamsted Park is home to many of our sports facilities, you can read more about what's available and how to take part here.


Our Management Plan

Since acquiring Rothamsted Park in 2021, Harpenden Town Council has been overwhelmed by the positive feedback regarding the new playground and have been delighted to see how well used it is. However, the play area is just the start of a number of improvement projects that the Town Council is making. We have also allocated significant funding to many other initiatives which are set out in a new management plan, running from 2022 to 2025. At the heart of this management plan is a focus on biodiversity and environmental improvements.

The Rothamsted Park Management Plan includes key objectives: ensuring it is a safe and welcoming place; keeping high standards of maintenance and cleanliness; enhancement of its biodiversity and positive contribution to the environment; improving its recreational facilities and promoting strong community involvement.

The Rothamsted Park Management Plan can be viewed here - Management Plan

Some of the changes that we are currently working towards, or have completed, include:

  • restoration of the Leyton Road entrance is ongoing
  • initial stages have begun in the development of a new 3G all weather sports pitch, providing first class facilities for junior football and sport in the Town
  • new goalposts have been erected on the football pitches
  • a new partnership with Colts Football Club and Harpenden Cricket Club to improve football and cricket in Harpenden has been agreed
  • biodiversity is being enhanced by adding woodlands, meadows and hedgerows and we are planting 1,500 trees and creating four acres of summer meadow
  • ecological wildlife corridors are being created with new and improved hedgerows
  • restoration of the rose gardens has begun with new planting
  • the planning stage of a a new community pavilion has begun
  • signage across the Park is being refreshed
  • the number of benches and bins has increased
  • measures to address antisocial behaviour have been taken, these include working with police, installing additional CCTV, raising canopy of tree line in known problem area, making better use of our various communication channels
  • we have hosted volunteer days for tree and rose planting.

Wildlife and Habitats

The close proximity of the Park to the surrounding countryside, the grounds of Rothamsted Estate and mature private gardens provide a range of habitats suitable for a diverse mix of wildlife. 

The Park's landscape is dominated by ancient hedgerows, mature oaks and the Lime Avenue. Formerly farmland, the Park has developed over time to provide a haven for wildlife. Nature is of vital importance in urban areas to aid control of pollution and increase biodiversity.

The ancient hedgerows are ecologically rich and act as wildlife corridors linking into the wider countryside. This allows wildlife to travel from one habitat to another unimpeded. The hedgerows provide food and shelter for a wide range of species including birds, insects, small mammals and bats. 

The veteran oak trees around the Park are the most significant landscape feature in the Park and are of high environmental value. Oak trees are rich in biodiversity and play an important part in the food web supporting more life forms than any other native tree including insects, birds, mammals and fungi. A recent study discovered over 2000 species of invertebrates, birds, mammals and fungi, as well as others, that are known to use oak trees. Dead wood is also an important habitat for wildlife and where possible should be left in the tree; when large branches fall, they should be left where they land. The Park’s veteran trees are managed sensitively to maintain their wildlife importance and landscape characteristics. 

History Of Rothamsted Park

In 1623 Anne Wittewronge bought the Manor of Rothamsted and the Estate was handed down through branches of the family, until 1822 when it was passed to the eight-year-old John Bennet Lawes. Sir John Lawes, as he became, started carrying out agricultural experiments at the Manor House and in 1843 he founded the Rothamsted Experimental Station.

In 1889 Sir John established the Lawes Agricultural Trust, set up to ensure the continuation of the experiments after his death. During this time, what is now known as Rothamsted Park was part of the Rothamsted Estate. The main entrance to the Manor was from Hatching Green. The present entrance into Rothamsted Park from Leyton Road was created in 1880, when Sir John created the new Avenue and lined it with lime trees.

In 1931 the family decided to sell the Estate. Sir John Russell, the then Director of the Experimental Station, was well aware that if the Station did not buy the land, developers would, and it would be impossible to continue their research. The early 1930s were a time of financial crisis, with no financial help available from the Government. A sum of £30,000 was needed to buy the Estate; fortunately a public appeal raised £35,000 and the purchase was completed on 18th May 1934.

Meanwhile the Harpenden Urban District Council (HUDC) was negotiating to buy a 56 acre area of parkland from the Estate. On the 4th March 1938 the Free Press reported that the HUDC was to acquire the lower part of the Park in order to provide playing fields and preserve this important open space. Contracts were exchanged in April 1938.

In 1974, HUDC was abolished and the Park was transferred to the newly created St Albans City and District Council. In 2021, Harpenden Town Council acquired the Park, bringing it back into Harpenden ownership. Although, the Eric Morecambe Centre, leisure centre and car park remain in the ownership of St Albans City and District Council.

How to find Rothamsted Park

Rothamsted Park is easily accessible on foot from the Town Centre. There are several car parks including the Harpenden Leisure Centre Car Park, the Baa Lambs Car Park (opposite the Silver Cup pub on the Common and parking bays on Leyton Road, there is also a small car park at the Orchard Avenue entrance to the north of the Park. It is a five minute walk from the train station or can be reached via the bus services to the Town Centre. 

Rothamsted Park Primary Featured Image Rothamsted Park Secondary Featured Image


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