West Park, with East Park, Hoglands and Houndwell, is one of the town’s Central Parks. These parks are ancient in origin and were originally the town fields, areas of land on which people grew crops in summer and grazed animals in winter. They were known as Lammas lands because crops had to be harvested on Lammas Day, 1 August. West Park and East Park were originally known as East and West Marlands, deriving their name from the leper hospital of St Mary Magdalene, which stood in this vicinity from the 12th to 14th centuries.

Under the 1844 Marsh Improvement Act the council was empowered to drain and develop another area of common land, the Saltmarsh (the area around the Terminus Station). In return for the loss of common rights, the council agreed to turn the other Lammas lands into public spaces for the use of the town’s inhabitants. Work began in the 1850s; a survey of 1856/57 shows the layout of the paths through the parks, and apart from a few minor alterations they have not been changed since. The statue to Isaac Watts was erected in the park in 1861 and since then its alternative name has been Watts' Park.


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