Walks: Peasholm Park and the Willow Pattern story

Peasholm Park, Scarborough.
Peasholm Park, Scarborough.

Whether you’re a resident of Scarborough, or a visitor on holiday here, I’m sure Peasholm Park will rank as one of your finest attractions. You may have seen it many times, but with a circular walk detailing features en route, this makes it more interesting. Read the story of ‘Koong-se and Chang’ first, and then with questions in mind, begin your search for all the answers. Some information boards may help too.

Here is the legend of the Willow Pattern. The design of Peasholm Island was inspired by the scene depicted on Willow Pattern china.

Once there lived a wealthy Mandarin. His beautiful daughter was Koong-se. He also had a secretary named Chang. Chang and Koong-se fell in love, and met secretly beneath a weeping willow tree.

The Mandarin was furious. His secretary could never be worthy of his daughter. He banished Chang forever.

Soon afterwards, the Mandarin told Koong-se she was now betrothed to a rich warrior duke named Ta-jin. Koong-se missed Chang so much.

One day she found a tiny boat made out of half a coconut shell on the water. In it was a note from Chang. She sent a message back telling him of her forthcoming marriage.

To celebrate the betrothal, Ta-jin took a box of precious jewels for his future wife. Koong-se was in despair.

She thought Chang would have rescued her by now, but Chang was on his way. Disguised as a servant, he passed unseen to Koong-se’s room. They decided to run away together immediately.

Taking Koong-se’s new jewels with them, the couple crept past the guests who by now were in a drunken sleep. However, the Mandarin suddenly awoke and saw them! With a loud cry he began to chase them across the bridge.

This is the scene shown on the Willow Pattern plate. Koong-se is first on the bridge. Behind her is Chang with the jewels.

Last is the Mandarin with a whip in his hand. The couple escaped by boat to a distant island. They lived happily together in a beautiful pagoda.

However, the Mandarin and Ta-jin wanted Chang dead. They planned to use the taking of the jewels as an excuse for killing him. Eventually spies tracked the couple down and prepared to murder Chang. Koong-se set fire to their home so they would die together.

The gods granted the loving couple immortality. Their souls soared into the sky as two doves. Just like doves they were forever free, and symbolised eternal love.

Now you know the story, try and imagine it coming to life as you walk around the park and island which it inspired.

Finally, try and answer these questions.

1) In which year was Peasholm Park opened?

2) Peasholm Park was one of the first public parks to use what kind of lighting?

3) Who was the man who designed and built Peasholm Park in the early 1900s?

4) In what year was the original pagoda on Peasholm Island built?

5) Where did the inspiration for Peasholm Park’s oriental theme come from?

6) In the legend of Willow Pattern, what did Chang use to send a message to Koong-se?

7) Have you seen any black swans? Can you name three other types of birds you’ve seen in the park?

8) Where can you make a wish in the park?

9) Can you find any Temple Lions protecting Peasholm Park?

10) Which deity keeps an eye over Peasholm Lake from in front of the cafe?

Refreshment: Peasholm Park Cafe and Buttercup Kiosk.

Terrain: Good, easy walking throughout.

NB Don’t forget to cross the bridge to the Oriental Garden on the Island.