Walking in Priory Park by Lesley Hall, July 2005
If I take a walk through Priory Park I start by climbing a steep little path up a grassy slope next to Priory Medical Centre (note: when this article was produced, Warwick Police station occupied the site where the medical centre is located). This leads through a stand of mature beech and other trees to the flat hill top. This area now comprises mature specimen trees standing in mown grass. There are fine Spanish chestnut, horse chestnut and oak trees probably dating from the plantings of Matthew Wise. Looking ahead there is a variety of vegetation screening the view of the County Record Office. There is a south facing bench for peaceful contemplation over the town of Warwick, largely hidden by the leaves of the trees at this time of year. Walking northwards across the hilltop there are more fine specimen trees including red oaks and conifers, some fully mature and other younger trees planted to replace the older trees when their lives end. There are areas left wild, which enhance the atmosphere of peace and seclusion and provide food and cover for wild animals, insects and birds. In the spring, there are drifts of bluebells.
From the hill top there is a choice of routes forward into the wood clothing the quarry, east down the bank through a belt of trees or southeast back to a tarmac path that leads down the hill. Near the path, there are a few very old fruit trees from the days when this part of the park was a garden. If one is lucky in the autumn one can pick up windfall apples and pears although the latter are often damaged by their fall from the tall old tree.
Down the path is a plaque remembering the Amikaro in 1958 and another in 1978. Commemorative trees were planted nearby with the first letters of their botanical names spelling AMIKARO. It seems that many have not survived. I have identified an Acacia and a Malus but cannot find the others.
The path passes a large oak and bends to follow the tree clad line of the bank and ditch before turning downhill towards the brook and the eastern edge of the park. At the bend an alternative grass path goes straight down the hill. This passes through an area where the grass is allowed to grow long. It has just been cut and is now drying in the sun and scenting the air with the smell of hay. Soon the autumn crocus will be showing in a small patch here. The path leads through a variety of young trees planted about 15 years ago to form a small arboretum.
There is a flat area at the bottom of the park which is used for informal games by local families. A grass and earth path leads through this, more or less parallel to the railway line and past a few more mature oak trees. To the left of the path the ground rises to the top of the hill with its banks and trees.
At the north west border of the park is a wide tarmac path which forms a footpath from the town centre to a primary school and some of the town suburbs. Turning left up this path one has the wooded old quarry on the left. This contains some fine old trees and is used by youngsters for biking. The path leads back up the hill towards the town and past the drive to the County Record Office and out onto Cape Road a few yards from Priory Medical Centre.
A brisk circuit of Priory Park takes less than 15 minutes, however a stroll noticing the wildlife and features of interest can take as long as one wants. Priory Park is a treasure near the centre of Warwick and all the more appreciated because of its history and the fact that it has been saved from the perils of development.
Trees planted to remember the 1958 event
Two international Scout and Guide Jamborees took place in 1958 and 1979. Seven trees were planted to remember the 1958 event. AMIKARO in Esperanto means ‘friendship’
Three of the original trees died and were replaced in 2012 by Warwick Tree Wardens, Friends of Priory Park and the Warwick Society.
• June berry (Amelanchier lamarckii)
• Crab apple (Malus sylvestris)
• Holly (Ilex ‘Nellie R Stevens’)
• Golden rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata)
• Cappadocian maple (Acer cappadocicum)
• False acacia (Robinia pseudoacacia)
• Hop hornbeam (Ostrya carpinifolia)
Photos taken 12/05/2021