The History of the Park
Whilst there is no reference in the Domesday book, the
Park has a colourful history. The earliest surviving document
relating to the “Manor of Cuerden” goes back to 1199, when
the lands were held by the Molyneux family; they also lived
in the Manor house at that time.
The Hall which we know to day was not built until after
the Cuerden residence at the manor. From 1717 until 1906
the area was owned by the Banastre and Parker families.
During the centuries they developed the Cuerden estate with
nurseries, orchards, various plantations, meadows, fields
and gardens. A major contributor was Lewis Watts, who also
worked on Lymme Park, Oulton Park and Tatton Park in Cheshire.
Under the stewardship of Robert Townley Parker, by 1838
the parklands had developed further into pasture fields
with grazing animals, water meadows and wood plantations,
creating a ‘heavily formed’ landscape. In addition, a footpath
was laid across the estate. Further developments saw a new
drive and gates, and a reservoir from the rivers and streams
running through the park.
When Thomas Townley-Parker (the last descendant of the
Bansatre-Parker family) died in 1906, the estate was left
to his nephew, Reginald Tatton. He constructed many flower
beds as well as a pergola and gazebo, a walled garden and
pond. During World War One the Tatton family set up a hospital
at Cuerden, furnishing it with beds, bed linen and equipment.
During the Second World War, the estate was requisitioned
by the Army as an education centre and then became headquarters
of No. 4 Anti-Aircraft Command. In 1958 the Hall was purchased
from the Tatton family and became the Headquarters for the
Army’s North West District. In the early 1960’s the newly
built M6 motorway cut across the northern parkland, destroying
Wigan Lodge in the process.
By 1977 the Hall had become the Headquarters of the Central
Lancashire Development Corporation, with new offices and
car parks being established in the formal garden areas.
The parkland and wider estate was developed into Cuerden
Valley Park, and in 1978 plans were drawn up to shape the
park to suit public use. In 1986 work had begun on developing
the Hall into a Sue Ryder Home, and the Park was formally
established as a Trust, by which time cycle and bridle ways
and a new footpath circuit had been laid. The Park has been
maintained in this format since the 1980s, with the M65/M6
junction at Bamber Bridge cutting off access between parklands
in 1997, but footpath and links still exist between these
In 2003 discussions took place between the Trustees and
the then Park’s managing agents, Lancashire Wildlife Trust,
about the future management and direction of the Park. This
resulted in the day-to-day control and management of the
park being returned to the Park Trustee’s and greater involvement
by local people and stakeholders. A major restoration project
was commenced at the same time, aimed at restoring some
of the Victorian features on the Park. Included in the Heritage
Lottery Fund bid was an eco-friendly building for the Headquarters
of the Lancashire Wildlife Trust who, like the Park Trust,
had outgrown their temporary accommodation on the Park.
This resulted in The Barn being built with a small Park
Office and a shared Visitor Centre for the Park and the