Castle Park

The National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Lottery Community Fund has awarded a £2.5m grant to enable East Herts Council and our partner Bishop's Stortford Town Council, to deliver detailed enhancements to Castle Park.

The project has been managed on behalf of the Council by Hertfordshire County Council's Countryside Management Service.  Since 2017 residents of Bishop's Stortford and the Friends of Castle Park have been helping to shape these detailed plans.

The existing paths are poorly connected and incomplete. New paths, a new bridge and general resurfacing will improve this. Interpretation through displays, information boards and leaflets will enable everyone to understand and appreciate Waytemore Castle.

A new path network will improve the disjointed feel of the park and the segregation of Castle Gardens and Sworders Field. This includes a riverside path that improves visibility of the River Stort and connects the town centre out towards the north of the town, a path along the eastern edge of Sworder’s Field and better placed paths around the war memorial.

Access to this important historical feature will be improved by enabling public access up the steps. Specialist conservation work will take place that will protect the castle masonry. The trees on the mound and the hedge will be removed to return the castle to its prominent position in the landscape. Wildflower planting will surround the mound to create an ornate and wildlife rich setting. Lighting will bring the castle alive at night and interpretation will allow people to visualise the past.

Mid-February 2023: landscape improvements. 

The hedge at the base of Waytemore Castle mound is being taken out as part of the on-going landscape improvements.  It will be replaced with traditional metal estate railings which will make the castle more prominent within the landscape.  

The hedge, a relatively modern addition, has no historical significance.  In contrast, the castle motte, a medieval fortification introduced into Britain by the Normans, is over nine hundred years old.  Built in towns, villages and open countryside, motte and bailey castles occupied strategic positions and dominated their immediate locality.

The removal of the hedge will focus attention back onto the monument and, along with some new dramatic lighting, help to discourage anti-social behaviour and littering. Visitors will continue to access the mound via the existing steps.

The hedge is primarily box hedging which has been suffering from box tree moth infestation.  New hedges are being planted in other areas of the park, including around the war memorial.

Major refurbishment will take place to provide more attractive buildings that are better integrated with the park. Timber cladding will give the building a softer and more natural appearance that is more in keeping with the park setting. Two community rooms will be available for private hire, school groups and events and as a base for the Friends of Castle Park. The building will include public toilets, including a new Changing Places facility. Changing Places facilities are large disabled toilets with an adult changing bed and a hoist. This will be the only Changing Places unit in the centre of Bishop's Stortford and is crucial for allowing disabled people to visit the town centre for prolonged periods.

The area to the south of the building will be converted into a Community Garden. This will be aligned with the building and new terrace connecting it with the café.

Local groups will be integral to how the space is constructed and developed including input from those with learning disabilities, wheelchair users and young people. The space has been designed with flexibility in mind to meet changing needs as the facility evolves.

A simple, reflective space will be created around both memorials. 11 small trees will be planted at even spaces within the hedge of the main memorial to represent the 11 November Remembrance Day. Re-aligned paths will link grass area directly onto the new events space ensuring events such as Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday will have a much greater public capacity.

The Victorian drinking fountain will be relocated into this space, grouping these significant sculptural features together whilst ensuring the war memorial remains central.

The River Stort will become a feature for people to enjoy, with habitat improvements to benefit the park's wildlife.  A new attractive and accessible bridge will link the children's spaces and the events spaces together.  A pontoon will allow visitors to reach the waters edge, designed at a height that will be ideal for canoes and kayaks. Tree management through a selective process of pollarding, removals and retention will allow for more light to the river, giving a new lease of life to the habitat.  Brash berms will be installed by volunteers, introducing a varying flow and helping to establish marginal plants. Tree planting elsewhere in the park will ensure that more trees are planted than removed.

An inclusive and accessible space will be created for teenagers, designed with their input and providing exciting new equipment.  It will be a place they can call their own yet will still add to the overall attractiveness of the park.  The space will feature an enhanced street skate facility, a new half pipe and the addition of parkour features. The existing tennis courts will be relocated near to this activity area. This will result in a more open landscape between the mound and the memorials, providing better facilities with a superior playing surface and equipment.

The project includes a range of events based around heritage, wildlife and well-being have been developed to involve everyone in the community. Working with a wide range of local groups and organisations, Castle Park is becoming a hub for community activity.

The Friends of Castle Park provide a range of training opportunities  including archaeology and   conservation The group hold monthly conservation tasks for everyone to get involved in. For details please visit the Friends of Castle Park website on the or email

Visit the Castle Park Facebook page or Instagram account for more information.


Castle Park & Gardens
Bishops Stortford
United Kingdom