About Mote Park
Mote Park is one of the most popular places to visit in Maidstone. In 2015, it placed third in the People’s Choice for their Favourite Green Flag Park, covering over 450 acres.
A bit about Mote Park
Mote park is a 400-acre multi-use public park in Maidstone, Kent. Mote Park was previously a country estate and at the end of the 18th century it was converted to a landscaped park, before becoming the municipal park which we have the pleasure of being situated in today. The park includes the former stately home, Mote House, as well as a miniature railway, pitch and putt golf course, boating lake, and of course our friendly café.
In 2012-13, Maidstone Borough Council used funds generated by the Cobtree Estate to undertake major improvements to the park including a zoo-themed play area, improved car parking facilities, new footpaths, a sculpture trail, and new picnic tables and benches. In 2015, the final phase of the project was completed, creating the new visitor centre and cafe.
History about Mote Park
The park’s name is derived from ‘moot’ or ‘mote’ in Old English which means “a place of assembly”. In the 13th century the mote lands were incorporated into the manor of local landowners with emparked grounds. It is believed that this may indicate the area was used as one of the earliest deer parks in Kent.
The park is incorporated into royal history as a possession of King Edward IV’s consort, Elizabeth Woodville (daughter of Richard Woodville, 1st Earl Rivers) and was later raided by Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick angered by the King’s marriage. On 17 July 1531, Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn visited it, before their marriage. Passing to Thomas Wyatt the younger, the estate again returned to the Crown under Queen Elizabeth I before finally passing, in 1690 to the Marsham family, who would later become the Lords Romney.
Under the ownership of the Marsham family, the estate was considerably improved. Frances Marsham, Lady Romney, was instrumental in redesigning the grounds prior to her death in 1795.
In 1799, King George III and Prime Minister William Pitt visited the property to inspect around 3,000 assembled troops of the Kent Volunteers which were trained to defend the county from a possible French invasion. A Doric-style temple was constructed to commemorate the occasion which can still be found in the park today.
Between 1793 and 1800 the original Mote House was demolished, and a new mansion constructed, designed by Daniel Asher Alexander. At the same time the River Len was dammed to form a lake. Eventually the family gathered enough funds to expand the property and the park reached the size it is today, approximately 180 hectares. The Great Bridge was demolished and the lake itself expanded to around 30 acres.
In 1895 the estate was sold to Marcus Samuel, 1st Viscount Bearsted. The estate had included the Mote Cricket Club since 1857, and Viscount Bearsted expanded the facility, building a pavilion between 1908 and 1910.
In 1929 Walter Samuel, 2nd Viscount Bearsted, sold the majority of the estate to Maidstone Borough Council (then the Maidstone Corporation) and converted the house to an orphanage. The family still retains an interest in the park today.
Between 1932 and 1941, Mote House (known then as “The Mote”) was home to the Caldecott Community (now the Caldecott Foundation), a nursery organisation that had relocated to Maidstone from its original home in London following the First World War.
In 1941, war forced the Caldecott Community to evacuate to Hyde House (in Dorset). Mote House was commandeered by the British Armed Forces who used the kitchen garden as a headquarters and training facility during the Second World War. The Mote / Mote House was subsequently used as offices for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food before becoming a Cheshire Homes care home for the disabled. After lying empty for a number of years it was redeveloped (along with its outbuildings) as retirement apartments and cottages.
The park itself was remodelled following its purchase in the 1930s and now contains a number of recreation facilities. It was also used as a venue for the annual Kent County Show between 1946 and 1963. Being central to the town, much of the population was able to walk to and from the Show which was held in mid-July each year. The park is registered at Grade II on the English Heritage Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.
In 2011, it was announced that the parkland would undergo a major conservation and improvement project. In February 2011, scrubland was due to be cleared and 140 new parkland trees planted including alder, birch, hornbeam, sweet chestnut, beech, oak, redwood and lime. Historic views like that between the Volunteers Pavilion and Mote will be reinstated by the removing poorer quality trees. Kent Wildlife Trust is collaborating on the project to ensure the ecology of the park is protected. The project was completed in the summer of 2012.
In 2013 the park was awarded a Green Flag Award recognising high standards in park maintenance and management.