Sunday 31 January 2016

Around the Queen's Sconce

"Sconce Park" is an odd sort of name for a park, is it not? There is no such named-place around here, and sadly, my childhood fancy that it had something to do with Scones proved to be wrong, although you can get them at Rumbles cafe.

No, "Sconce" is derived from the Dutch "Schanz" meaning "Fort" and that is indeed what it was, back in the Civil War in 1646 where it overlooked the combined besieging forces of Sydenham Poyntz and his Parliamentarians, alongside their Scottish allies. They were parked at Sandhill Sconce, on the other side of the Trent and Devon, a musket shot away and a site now underneath a traveller site.

On the other side of town, the King's Sconce watched over the enemy based at Winthorpe village; this is a feature now lost under development on the North-East edge of town, near the river. Not to be outdone, the Scot's built their own Edinburgh Sconce, larger than the King and Queen's constructions put together.

In my childhood it was always a slightly threatening structure, where I was once hit by an elder child in some sort of case of mistaken identifty. It's structure was unprotected, and its steep ramparts, designed to absorb the impact of cannon fire, a real struggle to climb especially among the thorny, grasping gorse bushes. The route up was over a sandy climb, and the centre was always squelchily muddy.

The park never felt quite safe, and rough kids abounded with their 1982 World Cup issue footballs. At night, unspeakable things went on, their rubbery remains left for young children to find.

Now, after a splendid refurb programme, the park and The Sconce are far nicer places, two nature reserves combining with this historical artefact and a cafe to make for a pleasant place to visit.

Hopefully my pictures will give you an idea of the scale and shape of the space, a sort of pinch waisted square with arrowhead bastions at each corner for the cannons. A few years ago, "Two Men in a Trench" filmed here, firing a two pounder cannon at wicker and earth barriers on the football pitches beyond.

I would have easily been in their range, visible atop the fortress on a bright day.


All text and images copyright CreamCrackeredNature 31.01.16


  1. And in my world, "sconce" is a type of light fixture. Now I know more. Loved your description of its pre-refurb days. It looks like they did a nice job of it.

  2. Interesting post Simon - looks a great place to visit. They look as though they have made a good job of the refurbishment :)

  3. Such a fascinating site!
    Great photos - thank you for sharing!

  4. Such a fascinating site!
    Great photos - thank you for sharing!

  5. I'm glad you all enjoyed having a look round the place! I haven't quite done it justice I fear.

  6. Looks like a interesting place...
    Amanda xx

  7. Beautiful photos here Simon, love those views and the green grass! - Tasha

  8. It is amazing Si, I lived so much of my life (over thirty years) so close to where you live and yet you rarely put on photographs of anywhere I have seen. I must have led a quiet life in those days I think.

    1. I ought to do a trail through town to show you how its changed, perhaps