History of Friends of Chances Park

The Friends came into being as a result of a few members of the local community who use the park regularly and felt that it was falling into disrepair. Over the last few years, the parks department have gone from having a local department situated in the centre grounds to having one for the City until now the jobs are put out to tender. This situation where cut backs have led to minimal maintenance. The local parks department have been supportive in trying to help with smaller projects, making sure the grass gets cut regularly, the local play area is kept reasonable and new trees have been planted. There just aren’t enough resources to restore things like the Ha-Ha or work on the drive. We decide in March 2003 to hold a public meeting to see if there was any interest in starting a group, we put up notices in the park, and about 30 people attended. Aims both short and long term were identified.

The people recognised how lucky we are to have this beautiful area, but felt it should be better looked after. The short term was to combat some of the day-to-day things such as litter, broken glass dog mess and vandalism. We have over a period of time we have made our group formal by having adopted our own constitution. Some progress has been made we have got more bins for litter and dog foul, trees have been thinned out, and one of the oaks protected and some work done on connecting paths, but it is still only maintained. The Community Policeman has joined our number along with youth workers and the local Community Support from the area which seem to have made quite a difference now we want to move on to our main objective which is to preserve the heritage features these to include the Ha-Ha also they thought the original paths and fencing round the garden and the preservations of the old Oaks etc. Working along side the Parks department and Community Centre the group feels it already has made a difference but it is a duty of care to save the heritage of OUR PARK for all the People of Morton when it was so graciously given to us.

History of Morton Manor

The original building dates from 1780 and was at that time a farmhouse.

The Ferguson’s bought Morton and surrounding land as family home 1809. Robert Ferguson who was for sometime M.P. for Carlisle. He was literary a scholar, and a personal friend of the poet, Longfellow, who stayed at Morton in 1865. Sir Fredrick Chance who’s Mother was a Ferguson, became owner in1875, the house was passed to Sir Robert Chance in 1920. Morton continued to be the family home until his death in 1960, though he presented it in 1944 to the City for development as a Community Centre.

The mansion house with its fine Georgian façade, and the spacious lawns and gardens (landscaped by Gilpin) and surrounding Parkland provides an ideal setting for Community activities. The Manor house at Morton with lawns and flower gardens and parkland where left to the City Council for the people of Carlisle for a Community Centre to mark his family’s long association to Carlisle.

One of the unique features of this park is its Ha-Ha, which serves as a fence without impairing the view, or preventing animals to cross into the garden from parkland. I know of only one other example in the whole of Cumbria. The grounds are also known for their many native and exotic varieties of trees.