CALDER STORY: Family Summers at Calderstones Park

With football pitches and tennis courts, the playground, botanical gardens to explore and ducks to be fed at the lake, Calderstones Park has been a pull for families in the local area and from across the city since it first opened to the public in 1905. And with the recent additions of The Storybarn and The Reader Café and Ice Cream Parlour, families can spend an enjoyable day in the park come rain or as has been the case over the past few weeks, shine.  

The recent heatwave has seen a hubbub of life around Calderstones, especially for the glorious weather at The Big Reader Picnic earlier this month, and now the school holidays are in full swing the queues at The Reader Ice Cream Parlour are only going to get longer! 

We love hearing stories about the generations of families who have passed their school holidays picnicking on the grass, playing football and in bygone days, boating on the lake. 

Earlier this year, Sheila De Groot from Gateacre told us her family memories of Calderstones Park: 

“I think the Reader in the park is brilliant. I have taken my grandson to the Storybarn and we’ll sit and have an ice cream from the parlour. I walk my two dogs here as well.  

I wasn’t from this area originally – I lived in Woolton for a while and I had my children so I’d come here regularly. I taught my children to ride their bikes here. My son actually fell into…there’s a bit of a moat isn’t there? I remember he was cycling along and I was like ‘watch out!’ and my son just riding right into it. I just thought ‘Oh my god!’.  

I bring my son’s son here now, he’s not old enough yet but I’ll teach him to ride his bike here most probably. It’s a lovely park. I’ve been coming for quite a long time.”  

Sheila’s story reminded us of a few other recollections that have been shared with us over the past few years. One memory, shared as part of the Calderstones Open Day we held in the Mansion House back in 2013 read: 2018-07-26 12_02_45-Marketing and Communications - Makin Memories Memory Wall.jpg - All Documents

“This half term my daughter who is 8yrs old has learned how to ride her bike, so today we are making memories of this by riding around the park and having some great outdoor fun! Calderstones has always been wonderful fun since I was a child, out and about playing in nature and now we do the same here with our children. Nature, picnics, bike rides and laughs.”

In 2015, we also spoke to Audrey Moulton who grew up in Wavertree and regularly walked to the park as a child. She recalled the lake, feeding the ducks, “they seemed to have been there forever” and sitting on the back of a boat with her sister while her day would row, “I was sorry when they stopped doing that“.  


Do you have a story to tell?

Did you attend this performance? Or have you seen any other performances in the Park? Perhaps you attended a wedding at the Mansion House or used to visit the park as a child. We want to hear your stories.

To get in touch and be part of the story email comms@thereader.org.uk

Can you help?

The refurbishment of Calderstones is a massive project and we need a lot of help! Do you have skills you can share? There’s lots of ways to get involved:

CALDER STORY: Love’s Labour’s Lost in Calderstones Park

Stories are at the heart of our project to create The International Centre for Shared Reading at Calderstones Mansion House. A tradition we will continue once the refurbishment works are complete is sharing stories on the Garden Theatre’s stage.

Calderstones Mansion House has a rich history of theatre, with some of our own locally-grown actors treading the boards here over the years. In 1952, a performance of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost on the Garden Theatre stage, starred an actor named Gerard Makinson, otherwise known as Gerard Hely during the height of his acting career.

Local to the area, Gerard starred in movies and television shows between the 1950s and 1980s, including playing Prince Murat in BBC’s adaptation of Tolstoy’s War and Peace as well as appearing in locally-linked shows Z Cars and The Liver Birds.

Although Gerard sadly passed away in 2013, his family members have kept up a connection with Calderstones, through visiting the park regularly and even taking part in a Shared Reading group. We are very grateful to his niece and nephew, Paul and Rachel Hemmings, for sharing these brilliant pictures of Gerard along with a programme from the performance.

Shakespeare’s plays have been performed publicly since they were first penned and there is a long history of performances on parkland specifically, with official Shakespeare in the Park festivals originating in 1950’s New York and occurring all over the world to this day. Indeed, The Reader hosted Shakespeare performances of by The Globe Theatre’s touring company in the park between 2013 to 2015.

Love’s Labour’s Lost is one of Shakespeare earliest comedies, written around 1594 – it follows the attempts of the King of Navarre and his young noble companions to swear off the company of women for three years, choosing to study and fast instead. Their resolve is however tested by the untimely arrival of the Princess of France and her ladies.

To celebrate the 66th anniversary of this performance in the park, we will be reading excerpts from Love’s Labour’s Lost at our Calderstones Shared Reading groups over the next week and celebrating this classic comedy play that includes the marvellous word ‘honorificabilitudinitatibus’ – the longest word in the English language featuring only alternating consonants and vowels!

Read on to experience the King’s articulate right hand man, Berowne, wax lyrical about the importance of Love.

“But love, first learnèd in a lady’s eyes,
Lives not alone immurèd in the brain,
But, with the motion of all elements,
Courses as swift as thought in every power,
And gives to every power a double power,
Above their functions and their offices.
It adds a precious seeing to the eye;
A lover’s eyes will gaze an eagle blind;
A lover’s ears will hear the lowest sound,
When the suspicious head of theft is stopped:
Love’s feeling is more soft and sensible

Than are the tender horns of cockled snails:
Love’s tongue proves dainty Baccus gross in taste.
For valour, is not love a Hercules,
Still climbing trees in the Hesperides?
Subtle as Sphinx; as sweet and musical
As bright Apollo’s lute, strung with his hair;
And when Love speaks, the voice of all the gods
Makes heaven drowsy with the harmony.
Never durst poet touch a pen to write
Until his ink were tempered with Love’s sighs.”

William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost


Do you have a story to tell?

Did you attend this performance? Or have you seen any other performances in the Park? Perhaps you attended a wedding at the Mansion House or used to visit the park as a child. We want to hear your stories.

To get in touch and be part of the story email comms@thereader.org.uk

Can you help?

The refurbishment of Calderstones is a massive project and we need a lot of help! Do you have skills you can share? There’s lots of ways to get involved: