New playground with historic twist opens in Cranford Park

Wednesday 1 May, 2024: A brand new playground was officially opened by Hillingdon Council yesterday (Tuesday 30 April) as part of a £4.6 million restoration of its popular heritage site, Cranford Park.

Cllr Jonathan Bianco and Cllr Eddie Lavery open the new playground at Cranford Park
In a unique twist, the playground and its equipment is themed around historical figure, Mary Cole, the Countess of Berkeley, with play features that reflect her intriguing story.

The new playground is located behind the new café, which is nearing completion, and its play features are made entirely of timber, to be sympathetic to their woodland surroundings.

Equipment includes a climbing net trail, tower unit with slide and fireman's pole, and a nest swing, as well as an 'ice house' shelter and tunnel, both intricately weaved from live willow branches earlier this year with the help of skilled volunteers, as well as two small wooden horses and a wooden horse and chariot.

For 300 years from 1618, Cranford Park was owned by the Earls of Berkeley, and Mary Cole became the Countess of Berkeley in 1796 after marrying the 5th Earl, Frederick Augustus Berkeley.

The playground equipment reflects the story that following her husband's death, Mary Cole feared for her life, so had a trapdoor in her bedroom floor, leading down to a tunnel, where she could escape on horseback. Young visitors emulate her actions by shooting down the slide and scampering through the wicker tunnel before escaping on the horse.

The new playground and café, are the most recent additions as part of the council's £4.6 million pound restoration project, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, with works already complete to restore the main stable building and the cellars.

The playground was also part-funded through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, as part of the government's Levelling Up agenda.

Cllr Eddie Lavery, Hillingdon Council's Cabinet Member for Residents' Services, said: "We're committed to creating a green and sustainable borough and preserving our local heritage for future generations.

"It's a pleasure to formally open this new playground today, which I hope will bring joy to many young visitors, who might be inspired not only by the history of the site, but also by the broad range of wildlife that can be found within its grounds.

"There's also an annual calendar of activities and events happening across the site for families and other visitors, especially those with a passion for history and wildlife, including the Cranford 'Green Man' family event this Saturday, so do visit our website to see what else is happening."

For more information on the restoration project, visit



Page last updated: 08 May 2024