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Rocks, Old John and the War Memorial
Bradgate House, with Old John and the Leicestershire War Memorial on the skyline
Bradgate House, chapel and ruined tower
Old John
Red deer
River Lin taken from hillside

Bradgate Park is a public park in Charnwood Forestmarker, in Leicestershiremarker, Englandmarker, just northwest of Leicestermarker. It covers 850 acres (3 kmĀ²).The park lies between the villages of Newtown Linfordmarker, Ansteymarker, Cropstonmarker, Woodhouse Eavesmarker and Swithlandmarker. The River Lin runs through the park, flowing into Cropston Reservoirmarker which was constructed on part of the park. To the north lies Swithland Woodmarker.


The park was created sometime before 1288. William de Ferrers of Groby died in that year and the inquisition into his estates, made after his death, mentions the park, with herbage, pannage and underwood, worth 40 shillings yearly. The construction of Bradgate House was begun by Sir John Grey of Groby, the husband of Elizabeth Woodville, and the ruins of the house are still visible at the centre of the park. As part of an intense rivalry with George, Baron Hastings, in the 1510s and 1520s, Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquess of Dorset greatly enlarged his ancestral home at Bradgate. The house was the birthplace of Lady Jane Grey, later Queen, ruling for a mere 9 days before being overthrown by Mary I. A much later park landmark is the folly known as 'Old Johnmarker' on the top of the highest hill in the park, built in 1784. The folly is a memorial to an estate worker called John, who died after an accident during a bonfire, to celebrate the 21st birthday of the son of The Earl of Stamford. It was 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 local businessman Charles Bennion who gave it in perpetuity to the people of Leicestershire. Plaques on Old John and the main path through the park commemorate the gift.


The geology of the park is mainly Precambrian, and some of the earliest multicellular lifeforms are known from fossils discovered in the park in 1956 (Charnia masoni).

Flora and fauna

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. There are a number of magnificent specimens of ancient oaks several hundreds of years old. The park is home to herds of red deer and fallow 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 meadow pipit are a common sight in the open areas of the park. For 'historical reasons' deadly nightshade is allowed to grow within the ruins of Bradgate House.


There are pay car parks at Cropston Reservoir, Newtown Linford, and Hunts Hill (at the top of the park near Old Johnmarker). 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 Newtown Linford, and another in the centre of the park named the Deer Barn near Bradgate House. The park is administered by the Bradgate Park and Swithland Wood Charitable Trust, trustees are nominated by Leicestershire County Council, Leicester City Councilmarker and the National Trust.

It is also possible to travel to the park by bus. There is a walking path from the village of Ansteymarker, easily accessible from Leicester by the 74 bus. The path is signposted from Link Road, and crosses several fields before entering the park proper. Bus routes 121, 123, and some 54 buses run between Leicestermarker and Loughboroughmarker, travelling along Reservoir road, at the far end of Cropston Reservoirmarker. The visitor's centre can be seen across the reservoir.


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