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Barnwood Park and Arboretum (also known as Barnwood Park, Barnwood Jubilee Arboretum, Barnwood House Hospital)


Barnwood Arboretum is a part of Barnwood Park and was given to Gloucester City Council in 2000 by a developer and soon after was designated a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) by Natural England. The Green Flag is for the whole Barnwood Park site.

The site was originally a private mental asylum which encouraged patients to engage in sports. Vegetables were provided from their own kitchen garden and rare trees were planted to enhance the airing gardens. Following redevelopment many of the trees are now in a public arboretum.



The grounds were laid out as recreation gardens for patients at what was a private Lunatic Asylum. The patients were encouraged to participate in sports. There was a billiard room, bowls, croquet and both hard and grass tennis courts and they played cricket on their own pitch against local teams. Ladies walked a mile along a gravel path laid out through a planted shelter belt that largely still exists in Barnwood Park. This was accessed from a bridge built close to the weir.

The walled kitchen garden was reserved as an airing ground for lady patients and a separate area was enclosed with a paling as a court for the more excited gentleman patients

There were flower and rock gardens.

The weir close to Church Lane dammed Wotton Brook creating a narrow lake. 2 hydraulic rams installed at the weir pumped water from the Wotton Brook up to the house.

In May 1924 a cloudburst over Coopers Hill caused so much water to rush down the Wotton Brook that the wall over the weir in Church Lane was destroyed. The replacement wall was built with additional apertures for flood water.

The "original" part of Barnwood Park was opened in 1968 after the Barnwood Hospital had closed and the Barnwood Trust gave the land to the local authority.

There are magnificent trees on the whole site - Park and Arboretum - many planted by the Barnwood Hospital well over a century ago. including 6 Giant Redwoods, 3 Dawn Redwoods, many Cedars, Pines, a rare Variegated Beech, Limes, Mulberries and Oaks.

Market Garden

Covered 2½ acres (1 ha) in 1968 comprising

  • 7 heated greenhouses of about 4,000 square feet (370 square metres )
  • 7 sets of Cold Frames
  • 2 temporary greenhouses
  • brick and tiled potting shed
  • orchards providing hard and soft fruit

15 gardeners provided vegetables for the kitchens and tended to the grounds.

Present Arboretum

The present Arboretum was a planning gain when a developer extended Grovelands in 1999/2000. The surrounding houses are not allowed direct access to the arboretum There was an existing covenant on all the land that was given to the council in 2000 and including the bottom third of the original Grovelands and Cherston Court gardens bordering onto it. This always determined the type of fencing/hedging. The covenant was modified by legal agreement of all parties that were subject to it to allow public access to the land under certain conditions and placing those new responsibilities on the Gloucester City Council in 2000. However several properties have planted hedges against the railings for privacy.

A replacement bridge across the Wotton Brook at the end of the central path is the sole public access to the arboretum. A field gate hinged in its centre swings within a semi-circular wooden fence allowing easy access for buggies whilst preventing the grazing cattle and sheep from escaping. Cattle and sheep graze the Arboretum (at different times) from late summer to Christmas.

The central gravel path though grassed over is clearly discernible. Whilst the remains of retaining walls behind where the seats were on the cross promenade are easily found.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

Access contact details

Arboretum is locked at night but Barnwood Park is always open.


From Gloucester take the London Road then Barnwood Road for 2 miles then turn right into Church Lane. Entrance shortly after cross brook. Bus 10 from under railway bridge by Gloucester Station to Barnwood Road by Church Lane.


Gloucester City Council

North Warehouse, The Docks, Gloucester, GL1 2EP


Barnwood Arboretum was opened in June 2002 to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee. The arboretum and adjacent Barnwood Park were originally part of a landscape garden within the grounds of the Barnwood House Hospital, a private mental asylum that has since been demolished.

The First County Lunatic Asylum in Horton Road, Wotton bought out its subscribers in 1856 and acquired a large estate in Barnwood from its creditors for expansion. Barnwood House, the principal house, was adapted. Two new wings were added on either side to provide accommodation for about 70 patients. Later rebuilding and using villas in the grounds increased the number of patients to 160. 72 nurses and other ancillary staff looked after the patients.

In 1871 a visitor established that all patients pay for their care though their amount of their comfort and privacy depends upon which of the 3 grades they subscribe to. The hospital also owned a house in Bournemouth to enable patients to have a holiday by the sea.

There was a lawn immediately to the south of Barnwood House in 1838, when the tithe survey was carried out, but it did not extend to the Wotton Brook. There was a pasture field between them where the arboretum is now. A gravel path was cut across the pasture and a bridge constructed across the lake. On the opposite side of the brook was the 1838 pasture had more trees planted and in which a chapel designed by F S Waller was built in 1869. The chapel was rebuilt in 1887 when a south aisle and vestry were added. The body of the chapel had an apsidal and gabled east end, an east fliche, and a north porch. The chapel has been converted to non-commercial lock-up gymnasium for weights training.

However the shelter belts flanking the property in 1838 extended to the Brook and were retained when it became a hospital.

15 staff cultivated the gardens and grounds including the kitchen garden and greenhouses.

Whilst Barnwood House's coach houses and stables were on the south side of Ermin Street adjacent to Church Lane in the early 1900's a new block of coach sheds and stables with a small clock tower was built on the north side of Ermin Street. It was later converted into garages.

When the lake was dredged in about 2000 the tailings were dumped on the western tennis court.

Emmaus charity now occupies North Cottage on the north side of Ermin Street that used to house residents and staff.

Opposite the hospital many scots fir trees were planted. These are at present in British Energy's grounds. That was one of many firms to build in the Barnwood development on previously hospital owned land now accessed by vehicles solely from the A417 Barnwood bypass.

However British Energy is planning to sell off some of its spare land for a new housing development. The plan is to site the housing far from Ermin Street though its access is solely from Ermin Street. Parking places along the access road will enable the area with the scots firs to be used by the public.


1800 - 1805 Barnwood House built by Robert Morris, a partner in the Gloucester Bank of Turner and Morris for his son Robert Morris junior. However Robert Morris junior preferred to live in Cheltenham so Barnwood House was sold.

1808 Sir Charles Hotham, Baronet bought the house and adjoining fields.

1811 He died on the 18th July aged 45 leaving the estate to his widow.

1812 David Walters bought the house and 45 acres (18 hectares) from the now remarried widow. He built up a large estate.

1833 David Walters died passing it to his son James Woodbridge Walters.

1852 James Woodbridge Walters dies owning 719 acres (288 hectares) though heavily in debt to the County of Gloucester Bank.

1858 Subscribers to Gloucester Asylum bought the house, landscaped gardens and 48 acres (19 hectares). The house was converted to a private asylum, later known as Barnwood House Hospital.

1869 Chapel designed by F S Waller built south of the Wotton Brook.

1881 Farmland placed under the management of a bailiff.

1887 Chapel rebuilt

1896 - 1897 Central block of hospital rebuilt in brick for offices and the medical superintendent's residence.

1900 - 1920 A block of coach sheds and stables with a small clock tower was built on the north side of Ermin Street. It was later converted into garages.

1924 In May a cloudburst over Coopers Hill caused so much water to rush down the Wotton Brook that the dam wall besides Church Lane was destroyed. The replacement wall was built with additional aperture for floodwater.

1953 To commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, 2 metasequoia glyptostroboides were planted by the Chairman of the Barnwood House Hospital, Mr W I Croome, in November.

1967 Began releasing land for building.

1968 In March institution closed.

1969 Sold the main building and pleasure grounds comprising 11.75 acres (5 hectares) and 2.5 acres (1 hectare) of the market garden. Still providing nursing care for geriatric and psychiatric cases on a reduced scale in the Manor House on the eastern side of the estate.

1974 Barnwood Park acquired by Gloucester City Council.

1977 Manor House becomes a day home for the elderly disabled

1981 18 bungalows built in the grounds of Manor House though a pleasance still exists there.

2001 Last remaining portion of Hospital - the Centre Block - demolished

2002 City Council opened Barnwood Arboretum to the public to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in June.

2005/2007 Barnwood Arboretum achieves Green Flag status.

Features & Designations


  • Green Flag Award

Plant Environment

  • Plant Type
  • Arboretum


  • Kitchen Garden
  • Lawn
  • Description: For hospital patients
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
  • Pleasance
  • Plump
  • Specimen Tree
  • Stream
  • Description: Wotton Brook
  • Dam
  • Description: Rebuilt in 1924 after cloudburst caused original to fail with more aperatures. 2 hydraulic rams provided water to tanks in the hospital.
  • Ornamental Lake
Key Information





Plant Environment

Plant Type

Principal Building



Part: ground/below ground level remains



Open to the public


Electoral Ward