Parks in Pendle

Marsden Park

Walton Lane, Nelson, BB9 8BW

Marsden Park was first awarded a prestigious Green Flag in 2008, and has maintained its flag ever since. It is the largest park in Pendle, with many historical and architectural features which include a pseudo-roman spa bath, an ornamental pond and marsh area, a circular garden, sensory garden and a Lady's Garden. There are also woodland walks to enjoy.

Situated within the Park are five tennis courts, two bowling greens and a children's playground.

Play facilities

There is one playground with 18 pieces of equipment, four of which are DDA friendly, and one DDA/pushchair friendly entrance. The playground is a dog free area:

  • Junior: suitable for 5 to 14 year olds

The playground offers facilities for disabled users.

Sports Facilities

The park has five tennis courts and two bowling greens.

Picnic Area

A very spacious grassed area can be found within the park, at the top of Hallam Road, ideal for picnicking.

Marsden Old Hall

The hall that can be seen today is actually of two different periods. The old part of the hall, which forms the main part of the building, was probably built in around 1555 to 1563 by Richard Walton of Barkerhouse. 

The hall began to fall into disrepair before its ownership was transferred to Nelson Corporation. The Tudor section still remains and has been restored with funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund; it’s a historic landmark for the area. All that now remains of the extension are the extensive cellars that would have been used for storing food and wine.


There are two sundials in Marsden Park. The largest - the Icosahedral Sundial - was commissioned by Richard Thomas Wroe - Walton and was built in 1841 by Thornber and Kippax. Originally this sundial occupied a position on the opposite side of the park but was moved to its present location in the 1950s.

The Icosahedral Sundial has twenty faces which tell the time in different countries. It also has the ability to depict the day, date and the points of the compass. Even with modern technology recreating a sundial like this one would be a feat of mathematics and engineering.

This type of sundial is extremely rare, there are only two other similar sundials in the UK. One is in Plymouth and the other in the nearby grounds of Stonyhurst College. There are only known to be nine others in the world.

Marsden Park’s second sundial can be found in the north wall of the coach house towards the top of the park. This sundial is inscribed with the words ‘Test well Thine Heart, Thy Will, Thy Words, Thy Way And the True Light will guide You to Glorious Day’. 

Pseudo Roman Bath House and Gardens

Although the hall gardens would have been ornamental and grand, they also had the purpose of maintaining the hall and those who lived there with a supply of fresh food. The kitchen garden, which is the area laid out in a bowl shape next to the coach house, is extremely unusual because of its shape. In the bottom of the bowl stood a large greenhouse where exotic fruits such as pineapples would have been grown.

The Psuedo-Roman Bath House had two functions. The first was to act as a summer house for the family so they could take shade from the sun and have afternoon tea by the lakeside. The other, less indulgent function was to act as a boiler house for another greenhouse and the families that were once located above.

The My Lady’s Garden

Early photographs of the My Lady’s Garden show that it would have looked very different to how it does today. The planting scheme at this time is mainly evergreen shrubs such as rhododendron mixed with standard deciduous trees and conifers.

In the 1920s and 30s the planting scheme changed. At this time the garden was planted in the style of most parklands with seasonal bedding plants planted in a formal style.

During the restoration project the planting scheme was replaced to suit the modern needs of the park. This includes perennial bedding that requires less maintenance but is also valuable for wildlife such as bees and butterflies.

In the wall of the garden there are two bricked up doorways. Local legend states that one of these was a secret passageway to the hall. However, investigations during the restoration proved that this was not the case. One appears to be a summerhouse or storage area, while the other was an ice house.

During winter ice would have been cut from the upper lake and brought to the house. This was then used as a type of outdoor fridge to store meats and other foods that were likely to go off if stored anywhere else.

The Wishing Gate

The Wishing Gate is a large stone and metal structure located around 20 metres to the north of the Upper Lake. Originally called the Egyptian Gate, it was once the entrance in to the main gardens of the house.

A local custom has grown around the gate, the origins of which are not known. The custom is to pick a leaf from a nearby tree, place it in one of the carved holes and make a wish as you walk through the gate

History and Further Features

For more information on the history, and further features of Marsden Park.

Disabled facilities

Many of the paths and walkways are suitable for people with low mobility.

There is a sensory garden with tactile path finders.

The playground offers facilities for disabled users.


Marsden Park attracts a large and varied amount of wildlife. During the spring bursts of colour from Bluebells, Ransoms (Wild Garlic) and Wood Sorrel can be observed in the woodland sections of the park. Nuthatch, Tree Creeper, Greater Spotted Woodpecker and Grey Wagtail all nest within the parks boundary.

Summer brings butterflies such as Speckled Wood. In the evening large numbers of Pipistrelle and Noctule bats can be seen flying over the pond and the marsh area as they hunt for flying insects such as midges. Common Darter Dragonflies, may be observed as they lay eggs in the water courses.

Autumn sees the leaves fall from the deciduous trees and funghi such as Sulphur Tuft and Shaggy Philiota begin to appear. It is at this time the winter birds arrive after their long migration including large amounts of Red Wings. Grey Squirrels can also be seen foraging for the Horse Chestnuts 'conkers', which they will bury and save for leaner times over the winter months.

During the cold of winter, Marsden Park still provides valuable food for birds through the berries of the Yew and Holly. Look closely and you may see the brightly coloured Goldfinch and Greenfinch busily plucking at the bright red berries.

Friends Group

Marsden Park has a very active Friends Group who work alongside us maintaining the high standard of the park and get involved with regular Volunteer and Conservation Days throughout the year.

Car Parking

Car parking spaces are available directly in front of Marsden Old Hall, off Walton Lane, Nelson.

Directions to the park.

Marsden Park Management Plan

Further information

Parks Public Spaces Protection Orders

There are Public Spaces Protection Orders in some of our parks, to help keep them safe and clean.

Further information