The three-acre area known as Christchurch Gardens at the top of the Parade (originally called Beauchamp Gardens and now sometimes referred to as Top Park) was first laid out in the 1820s with Christ Church, which gave the gardens their name. The gardens now include tennis courts and a basketball court, much loved and used by locals.
Christ Church was a focal point at the top of the Parade for 130 years, but poor attendance, aggravated by the large number of alternative places of worship in Leamington, led to neglect of the structure and it had to be demolished at the end of the 1950s. After demolition a block of residential flats was proposed for the site; this created an outcry and derision when the Leamington Courier published a mock-up picture of how these flats might look. The site remains vacant to this day.
The gardens were much improved by Warwick District Council jointly with Leamington Town Council in 2010. The Friends of Christchurch Gardens were created in 2018 following a proposal by the District Council to turn the tennis courts into a permanent car park; this created strong local protest and the proposal was withdrawn. The tennis courts are regularly used by nearby Kingsley School as well as the public.
The Friends of Christchurch Gardens, all volunteers and nearby residents, work to protect, maintain, improve and enhance the gardens now and for the future. They work with the town and district councils, Holy Trinity Church and Kingsley School, to raise the profile of the gardens as a valuable and valued community space.
The Friends worked to ensure the Gardens were included as a designated Local Green Space in the Leamington Spa Neighbourhood Plan so the district council must consult the town council on proposals regarding the gardens. They also worked with the Town Council to establish a mini art gallery (the Art Box) for local schools to exhibit their pupils’ work in a disused telephone box.
- have prepared a new installation Finding Leamington in the gardens celebrating the town’s hosting of the 2022 Commonwealth Games Bowls and Para-Bowls competitions in Victoria Park;
- raise funds for future improvements;
- organise litter picks and free tennis coaching events;
- maintain a Facebook page;
- have produced flyers about the history of the gardens, and about the Aims and Achievements of the Friends.