Richie the Ranger
Sefton Park Self Guided Walk
A One Hour Stroll That Discovers the History and Features of This Beautiful Park
1: Start at Lake Car Park, opp Aigburth Vale Entrance
2: Stop above Lake
3: William Rathbone Statue.
4: Fairy Glen
5: Iron Bridge
6: Palm House
7: Eros Fountain
Sefton Park Self-Guided Walk:
Hi. Welcome to the delights of Sefton Park. This walk will discover the History and Features of this beautiful park and also a few fascinating and intriguing tales about the park itself.
You should have a map to follow which has numbered stopping points. At each stopping point you will learn a bit more about the park.
You should be now standing by the Lakes edge, near to the Aigburth Vale entrance into the park. Stopping place 1. On the map) First a bit about the very early history of this area. (
The first recorded settlers here where the Vikings. Arriving in the 9th Century, they formed two peaceful settlements. One on higher ground which they called “Smethdune” (meaning Smooth Hill) this of course became Smithdown (Smithdown Road) The other settlement was known as Toki Stadir' (meaning Toki’s Landing place) this of course became Toxteth.
In the 13th Century the whole of the Toxteth, Aigburth and Smithdown area was transformed into a huge enclosed deer park known as the Toxteth Deer Park.
This area was enclosed by a huge six-mile ditch and was used exclusively by royalty for deer hunting. The deer park was strictly enforced and anyone caught poaching the Kings deer the sentence was hanging.
The deer park remained in existence for 300 years but in the 16th Century it was disbanded and the land was controlled by the Molineux Family, the Earls of Sefton. They opened the area for farming and industry and by the 1800s the area was thriving with huge increase in the population.
Such was the increase in industry and population, that some local dignitaries where becoming concerned with the loss of green spaces, So much so that a movement began which was known as “The Parks Movement” This called for three huge municipal parks to be built known as “Parks for the People”
These where to be free parks where all classes could spend time and relaxation in green and pleasant surroundings. The movement was very successful with the first of the three municipal parks, Newsham Park, being opened in 1868. Two years later, 1870, saw the opening of the second park, Stanley Park and two years later again in 1872 saw the opening of where we are today, the beautiful Sefton Park.
Now we are going to have a little stroll before we discover a little about the actual building and design of the Park.
As you stand facing the Lake, follow the lakes pathway to the right, passing the kiosk café. Continue around the lake until the path forks uphill to the right. Follow this pathway up hill and we will be standing looking down at the lake. (there should be a large boulder near where we stop…...see map for stopping place 2.)
Stopping Place 2.
You should now be looking down on the Lake.
As we discovered the land was at one time owned by the Molineux family.
The City Council of the day, purchased 360 acres of his land to build what was to become Sefton Park. An international competition was held for the design of the Park with a first prize of 300 guineas. The winning entry going to French designer Eduard Andre. Andre was pleasantly surprised with “Natural Features” of the area, mainly the natural water courses. The water courses that we look at have been flowing through this area for over 10,000 years since the end of the ice age (one originates under the “ Brook House Pub” on Smithdown Road. Andre utilised these streams to create the beautiful water courses that we have today.
The park was officially opened in May 1872 by Prince Arthur (a great favourite of the people of Liverpool) He declared that the park to remain open as a place of rest and relaxation for the people of Liverpool as it is to this day.
(Nearby Princes Park was originally going to be called Prince Arthurs Park in honour of the man himself, but was shortened to the Princes Park.)
Prince Arthur at the Opening of Sefton Park.
Continue along this pathway, enjoying the views. We slightly lose full sight of the lake and, as we pass some steps on our left, keep your eyes open for “The Rathbone Statue”( Stopping Place 3.)
William Rathbone was born 17th June 1787 and died 1st Feb 1858 . During his 80 years he contributed many innovations which we still benefit from to this day. In 1837 he was made Lord Mayor of the City and during this time it was he who laid the foundation stone for St Georges Hall.
William was a remarkably wealthy man but he was also a social visionary.
During his day, bribery was rife during elections, so it was Rathbone who introduce our modern voting system with properly registered voting slips, sealed ballot boxes, registered scrutineers and private polling booths. He also introduced a welfare fund for the poor (a forerunner to our modern-day benefits system) Also, himself and his son where responsible for introducing the first free nursing service in the world. Eventually this developed into District Nurses to deliver care at home. His Granddaughter, Elenore Rathbone was responsible for introducing the Family Allowance. A family truly ahead of their time with social conscience.
Before moving on, take a look at the plaques. These where made by a man called Brock and they show the family’s charitable and commercial works. They are very detailed, but one is not as good as the others for some reason. See if you can spot which one.
Time to move on. Slightly retrace your steps and, with your back to the Rathbone statue, you will see the water course opposite.
Head this way following the path with the water course on your right.
As you walk along you will eventually come to a rough soil path directly ahead. Ignore this and turn right past some railings and follow the tarmac path to the left heading towards our next stop which is the Fairy Glen.
As you come to the end of this path you will come to railings and a gate which leads into the Fairy Glen.
Stopping Place 4.
The Fairy Glen is a lovely part of the park. Surrounded by beautiful trees and in the spring, it hosts a colourful display of rhododendrons. Flowing through the Fairy Glen is a delightful water course.
This is known as the River Jordon. In the 1600s there was an influx of Puritan worshipers into the area. The Puritans where being persecuted at the time for being Non-Conformists (they wouldn’t conform to the Church of England’s way of worship, preferring to worship in their own way) Liverpool was very lenient in religious worship and when the puritans arrived, they renamed a lot of areas and features with biblical names. Hence the “River Jordon” Before the park this was a wide, deep and fast flowing stream. Some of these Puritan names still exist such as “Jericho Lane” “Moses St”, “David St” etc.
The church which they built still stands to this day which is The Ancient Chapel of Toxteth.
The Puritans where led by Richard Mather, an inspiring preacher who was under constant danger due to his great popularity. Eventually he had to flee Liverpool’s shores where he fled to America. Here he founded a small Puritan settlement which is now Boston Massachusetts. His two sons went on to found two schools……..these are now Harvard and Yale University. So, the Americans owe a lot to our Liverpool Puritans
We now move on to our next stop, the Iron Bridge.
Follow the Pathway and you can either take the Stepping stones past the waterfall or the easier steps on the left. When leaving the Fairy Glen turn right and walk to the middle of our next stopping point, The Iron Bridge.
Stopping Place 5. The Iron Bridge
In Victorian times this was a popular meeting point for couples and it was on this bridge that Oliver and Catherine used to regularly meet. Despite being from different class backgrounds, they were deeply in love.
One cold Valentines night as they met on the bridge, Oliver told Catherine the devastating news that he was being forced into an arranged marriage by his family. Despite this, he begged Catherine to meet him in 12 months’ time at 11pm on this same bridge in Sefton Park; Catherine reluctantly agreed.
12 months passed and Oliver stood waiting on the Iron Bridge, but no sign of his love. He was just about to leave when he saw Catherine at the far end of the bridge. His heart leapt with joy and he ran to her with outstretched arms, but to his astonishment she passed right through his body and vanished into the darkness.
Oliver was shocked and devastated but on making further enquiries he discovered Catherine had been struck by the Cholera epidemic and had died the previous night, her last dying words being, ‘I must meet my love on the Iron Bridge’. Her ghostly spirit kept that tryst. It is said now that every Valentine night at exactly 11.15, both Oliver and Catherine mysteriously appear and cross the bridge hand in hand.
Time now to move on to stopping place 6, The Palm House.
Leave the Iron Bridge and continue a short way the pathway to the car parking area and follow the path to the left. Continue along this path to …………
Stopping Place 6: The Palm House
This is a Grade II* three-tier dome conservatory palm house designed and built by MacKenzie and Moncur of Edinburgh which opened in 1896. Liverpool millionaire Henry Yates Thompson (the great nephew of the founder of Princes Park) gifted £10,000 to the city to fund the construction. It was designed in the tradition of Joseph Paxton's glass houses and was stocked originally with a rich collection of exotic plants.
During the Liverpool Blitz of May 1941 a bomb fell nearby and shattered the glass. It was reglazed in 1950 at a cost of £6,163 with costs covered by the War Commission. A period of decline and deterioration culminated in its closure in the 1980s on grounds of safety.
In June 1992, a public meeting was held highlighting the dereliction and calling for restoration. A petition was presented to the City Council by what had become the "Save the Palm House" campaign. A public fund raising campaign was established, with a "sponsor a pane" programme generating over £35,000. This led directly to the conversion of Save the Palm House into a registered charity (Friends of Sefton Park Palm House). The Palm House was partially repaired and reopened in 1993. It was fully restored at a cost of £3.5 million with Heritage Lottery and European funding and reopened in September 2001. It is now both a popular visitor attraction offering free and paid-for public entertainment and is venue for hire.
The eight 'corners' of the Palm House are marked by statues by the French sculptor Léon-Joseph Chavalliaud. These include explorers Captain Cook, Christopher Columbus, navigators Gerardus Mercator and Henry the Navigator, botanists and explorers Charles Darwin, Carl Linnaeus and John Parkinson and landscape architect Andre le Notre. Inside the Palm House are two sculptures by Benjamin Edward Spence "Highland Mary" and "The Angel's Whisper".
The grounds of the Palm House feature a statue of Peter Pan which was one of the last works by the British sculptor Sir George Frampton. This is Grade II listed and is a replica of a similar statue given as a gift for the visiting public to Kensington Gardens by author J.M. Barrie. The statue was donated to the park by George Audley in 1928 and was unveiled in the presence of Barrie. It originally sat in Sefton Park but was damaged in the 1990s. It was restored at Liverpool's Conservation Centre, and returned to the more secure location of the Palm House's grounds in December 2005.
After enjoying the delights of the Palm House, it is time to move on to our next stopping place The Eros Fountain.
Leave the Palm House and walk back to the main pathway. Follow this pathway. Don’t take the first left but carry on until the second left which veers gently to the Café area and the magnificent Eros Fountain
Stopping Place 7. The Eros Fountain
Although it is known as the Eros Fountain, its true title is The Shaftsbury Memorial. It is a memorial to Anthony Ashley Cooper who was the Earl of Shaftsbury. He was a social and Political reformer who was said to have a great love for all mankind. This is reflected in the monument itself.
The fountain, made from bronze and aluminium, was unveiled in 1932 and is a replica of the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain created by Sir Alfred Gilbert in London's Piccadilly Circus. It was restored in 2008 with a new aluminium statue replacing the original which was residing in Liverpool's Conservation Centre before the centre closed to the public.
We now leave the Eros Fountain and we follow the pathway with the water course of our Left. ( don’t follow the path that has a swing barrier that stops the cars as you’ll be heading the wrong way.)
We are now walking towards our next stop… The Bandstand
The Bandstand in 1900
Stopping Place 8. The Bandstand
The Bandstand was always a popular attraction in Victorian Parks.
Always painted in bright colours, the present colour is as it was in the Edwardian period. The path that you are now standing on was known as “The Monkey Walk” It was known as this as in Edwardian times local men would put on their best suits when a band was performing (known as Monkey Suits) and promenade up and down this pathway trying to get the attention of ladies enjoying the concert. The Bandstand was neglected for many years but was restored when the park was renovated several years ago.
Well its time to return to our starting point so we follow this main pathway , but head back via the Lake side pathway.
As we walk by the lake look out for the many waterfowl such as Moorhens, Geese, Coots and lots more.
As we continue we will see the car park approaching where we end our walk at stopping point 9.
If the kiosk café is open why not treat yourself to a nice cuppa as a perfect end to our walk.
Hope that you enjoyed the walk.
Guided Walks & Events
Tuesday 3rd March 1.00 pm
March Into Spring
Join us at this award-winning park for a gentle walk that’s discovers certain signs that tell us Spring is on its way Meet outside the Mansion House at Calderstones Park. £ 2.50 per person
Thursday 5th March 1.00pm
Tales of Hale Village
An event that discovers this beautiful village. Take a gentle walk and learn of its features, history and of course the amazing tale of Hale’s very own giant, the Childe of Hale. (Easy) Meet at the War Memorial, Hale Road, Hale £2.50 per person
Tuesday 10th March 1.00 pm
Woolton Village History Walk
A step back in time to discover the fascinating history and heritage of this award-winning village. Experience the beautiful architecture and discover some of its bygone characters
Meet corner of Woolton St and High St ( near to the village cross) £2.50 per person
Thursday 12th March 1.00pm
A Waterloo Wander
Join us for this walk as we wander around the crescents, parades and Merchants palaces in an area of rarely discovered regency heritage. (A fair amount of walking, some steps) Meet opposite the Railway Station, South Road, Waterloo £2.50 pp
Tuesday 17th March 12.00 noon
Bebington Village, History and Curiosities 12.00
An opportunity to explore the history and features of this old Wirral settlement. Lots of beautiful buildings and fascinating curiosities Meet outside St Andrews Church, Church Road, Wirral CH63 3EX. £ 2.50 per person Please note 12,00 noon
Thursday 19th March 1.00 pm
Runcorn Olde Town Historical Tour
A walk that discovers the history, features and development of the intriguing Runcorn Old Town
(Involves a fair amount of walking)
Meet at All Saints Church
Church St, Runcorn WA7 1LD, £2.50 per person
Tuesday 24th March 1.00 pm
Memories of London Road and Brownlow Hill
An exclusive walk that discover olden days of London Road. Discover bygone shops, banks, landmarks of London Road. Next, we detour to “The Bullring,” an architectural masterpiece We then visit the stunning Waterhouse designed buildings of Liverpool University, learning of the University’s rich history and heritage. The afternoon finishes with a visit to the Victoria Gallery and Museum where a weird and fascinating world awaits
Allow at least two hours for this event. This is BOOKING ONLY and is limited to TEN places. Cost is £4.00 per person
Thursday 26th March 1.00pm
The Lost Village of Wallasey
A walk that discover the former ancient Liscard Vale Village with beautiful cottages, smugglers tales and a fascinating History. We also visit Vale Park and discover the amazing sculptures on the Fairy trail. Gentle walk, but some steep steps.
Meet at the Roundabout, Tower Prom/Egerton St
(Near to the site of the old New Brighton Tower)
£ 2.50 per person
Saturday 28th March 1.00pm
Tales from Toxteth Cemetry
All are welcome for this fascinating tour of this Victorian cemetery. Discover the history of this burial ground and learn the tales of its famous and infamous interns. Meet Main Gate, Smithdown Road
£2.50 per person
Tuesday 31st March 1.00 pm
Tales From an Ancient Cemetery
Join us as we venture into the depths of this ancient cemetery as we hear tales of facts, myths and legends associated with this old burial ground. Hear the tragic tale of Little Grace, the macabre story of the Old Widow Woman and we also have the opportunity to visit Liverpool’s oldest and first public open space. Meet outside main door to Liverpool Anglican Cathedral. £ 2.50 per person
Thursday 20th February 1.00pm
Stanley Park, History & Features
An opportunity to explore this beautifully refurbished Victorian Park and learn of its history and features. An event which discovers the parks beautiful sandstone terrace, its enchanting bridges and the magnificent Gladstone conservatory. (Gentle walk, some steps)
Meet corner of Priory Road/Walton Lane
£2.50 per person
Saturday 22nd February 1.00pm
Queens,Castles and Flags
A fascinating , city centre walk that discovers the history, architecture and features of Derby Square, Castle St, Liverpool Town Hall and Exchange Flags ( Easy)
£ 2.50 per person
Tuesday 25th February 12.00 noon
The Beautiful Village of Christleton
We travel further afield to discover one of the prettiest villages in Cheshire, the beautiful Village of Christleton
( “Christ’s Little Town” ) We discover the historic houses, the beautiful church and a delightful stroll along a section of the Shropshire Union Canal……..Bliss.
Meet at The Duck Pond, Little Heath, Christleton, Chester CH3 7AN £ 2.50 per person
Thursday 27th February 1,00pm
Always a great place to visit this fascinating walk that explores this delightful village looking at its history, heritage, amazing architecture and its beautiful monuments that words along cannot describe. After the walk you may wish to take the opportunity to visit the Lady Lever Art Gallery and Cafe. Meet Port Sunlight Railway Station. £2.50 per person
Richie the Ranger
Guided Walks & Events
Thursday 2nd January 1.00 pm
New Year Ramble
An opportunity to shake off those cobwebs as we go on a historical ramble through Sefton Park. This hour and a half walk discovers the fascinating history and features of this beautiful Victorian Park. Meet at the Lake Car Park, Opp Aigburth Vale Entrance into Sefton Park. £ 2.50 per person
Tuesday 7th January 1.00pm
Saints, Sinners and Holy Places
A city centre walk that discovers the history of St Georges Hall (Saints) Lime Street (Sinners) and the beautiful St John’s Gardens (Holy Places)
A fascinating insight into this historic quarter
(Easy, some Steps) Meet between the two lions, St Georges Hall Plateau, Lime Street
£2.50 per person
Thursday 9th January 1.00pm
Oxton Village History & Heritage Part 1
Join us as we explore this beautiful village to discover its fascinating history, architecture and buildings and its quirky tales Meet St Saviours Church junction of Talbot Road and Gerald Road, Prenton. £2.50 per person (Part Two next month)
Next Walk Monday 20th January Due to Holidays
Monday January 1.00pm
A Historical Discovery of The Liverpool Medical Institute
Only limited places for this exclusive escorted tour of the Liverpool Medical Institute. Discover the fascinating story of this world leading Institute.
£4.00 per person includes afternoon tea and refreshments
Tuesday 21st January 1.00 pm
Dingle Delights & The Ancient Chapel of Toxteth
Join us as we discover parts of this fascinating area. We will also have the opportunity to visit to the Ancient Chapel of Toxteth and the fabulous ornate, Turner Home. Meet outside Macdonalds on Aigburth Road.
£ 2.50 per person
Thursday 23rd January 12.00 noon
Medieval Chester, Ghosts, Mysteries & History’s
A fascinating tour of the city, ideal for a chilly winters day, which discovers tales of ghosts, mystery and history of this ancient city.
Booking only. Limited to only ten.
Please take note: Only for the energetic walker as there are a lot of steep steps and a fair amount of walking.
Cost of tour is £ 4.00 per person
Saturday 25th January 1.00 pm
The Story Behind the Streets
A historical journey back in time to discover the original Seven Steerts of Olde Liverpool and their amazing tales. Booking only Places Limited.
Tuesday 28th January 1.00pm
St Michaels Hamlet & the Cast Iron Shore
This delightful hamlet was built in 1815 by Iron founder John Cragg. This walk discovers the history of the area, from ancient monks to modern day, the original cast iron houses, the beautiful cast iron church and we unfurl the true origin of the cast iron shore. Meet at St Michaels Railway station, St Michaels Road L17 7BJ £2.50 per person
Thursday 30th January 7.00pm
In the bleak Mid-Winter
Put on your warmest clothing, scarf, gloves and a hat. Bring a torch and brave the cold, bleak winter weather for a walk with a difference as we visit Sefton Park on a dark, wintery night. We will experience the dark tranquillity of the lake, the nocturnal sounds of the wildlife, the magical beauty of the Palm House by torchlight and we may even see the Ghost of Sefton Park (who knows) Meet at Lake Car Park. Opp Aigburth Road entrance to the Park L17 4JE Warming refreshments available at The Sefton Park Hotel £ 2.50 per person
If you require a speaker for your group, wish to arrange a guided walk, to be placed on my email contact list or for any other information
Thursday 19th December 1.00pm
In Search of Liverpool Icons ( & Santa ??? )
A city centre walk that discovers some of our iconic landmarks, learning their history and involvement in Liverpool Life. In addition, we finish with a visit to
Blacklers GIANT Santa before his busy night Meet outside the Adelphi Hotel,
£2.50 per person
Friday 20th December 1,00pm
The History of Our Christmas Traditions
A festive walk that discovers the origins of our Christmas traditions. Who pulled the first Christmas Cracker, who sent the first Christmas card, why do we eat mince pies at Christmas…. These and a lot more traditions will be explored on this delightful walk.
Meet Mansion House, Calderstones Park
£2.50 per person