Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

Last month, the Gazette re­ported on a fire that gut­ted the in­for­ma­tion cen­tre at the park, off The Park­way, in Hayes.

The blaze se­ri­ously dam­aged an 18th cen­tury statue of a woman and Cupid, which used to stand by the River Crane.

Bob Bar­ton, sec­re­tary of Cran­ford Park Friends, said the fig­ure was be­lieved by some peo­ple to have in­spired the legend of the Grey Lady, who is ru­moured to haunt the 144-acre park.

“This is a ma­jor blow to the Cran­ford Park Friends group at a time we are at­tract­ing in­creas­ing num­bers of vol­un­teers, bring­ing the com­mu­nity to­gether and work­ing closely with Hilling­don coun­cil and Macmil­lan Can­cer Support,” Mr Bar­ton said.

It’s a very re­lax­ing place and pa­tients en­joy com­ing here once a month to work and meet with other peo­ple”

But the fire has not stopped more than 20 vol­un­teers, in­clud­ing pa­tients from Hilling­don Hos­pi­tal, con­tin­u­ing to look after the gar­den.

The walled gar­den is one of the few re­minders of the Earls of Berke­ley, whose es­tate con­sisted of the park and sur­round­ing land, now man­aged by Hilling­don Coun­cil.

Macmil­lan Can­cer Support, which opened an of­fice in the hos­pi­tal in Pield Heath Road ear­lier this year, has been work­ing with the friends group to or­gan­ise the vol­un­teer work.

Lor­raine Bar­ton, a Macmil­lan can­cer spe­cial­ist and one of the found­ing mem­bers of the park’s friends group, said: “It’s a very re­lax­ing place and pa­tients en­joy com­ing here once a month to work and meet with other peo­ple.

“It gets peo­ple out of their homes and ac­tive, which is im­por­tant when you are re­cov­er­ing.”

The walled gar­den’s fea­tures in­clude a small veg­etable and wild­flower plot, a nat­u­ral well and its own grapevine, which this year helped pro­duce 20 bot­tles of Cran­ford wine.

The Berke­leys were one of the coun­try’s rich­est fam­i­lies but the fam­ily home was sold in 1918 and later de­mol­ished.

As well as the walled gar­den, a few rem­nants of its op­u­lent past re­main, in­clud­ing sta­bles and a huge tiled cel­lar hid­den un­der­ground, which the Friends hope they will be able to re­store in the fu­ture with the help of the coun­cil and a Her­itage Lot­tery Fund grant.

Cran­ford Park Friends are on the look­out for vol­un­teers. For more in­for­ma­tion go to www. cran­ford­park­friends.org.

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