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Harrogate Stray

Harrogate Stray

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The Stray’s famous cherry blossom is being feted in both The Telegraph and The Times again this year.

A derelict red telephone box being ‘uplifted’ from the Stray on Otley Road

18th March 2023   The site was then repaired and reseeded and returned to Stray land.

The iconic red telephone box, having been fully restored by the Stray Defence Association, was installed on West Park in Harrogate. It was officially unveiled on the 12th Mary 2023,  an event attended by members of the Stray Defence Association, Harrogate In Bloom and Harrogate Civic Society, the 90th anniversary of the Stray Defence Association, which was formed on May 12, 1933.

Judy D’Arcy Thompson, chairman of the Stray Defence Association, said:

“It is the Stray Defence Association’s hope that it will become a valued part of the West Park street scene and an intriguing and iconic information source for both local people and visitors to Harrogate.”

Harrogate Stray stands as an emblem of Harrogate’s natural splendour, spanning over 200 acres of verdant parkland that enriches the town’s lush green panorama. Its vast expanse not only enhances the town’s aesthetic appeal but also offers a haven for an array of recreational pursuits, from casual games to leisurely strolls, providing a sanctuary for relaxation amidst nature’s embrace. Adjacent to a diverse selection of culinary delights, this idyllic retreat ensures all your outdoor leisure needs are effortlessly catered to, just moments away from the bustling town center.

Beyond its scenic allure, the Stray serves as a hub of activity, boasting amenities such as football pitches for local teams and playing host to seasonal festivities like the biannual funfair and the breathtaking bonfire event come November. Protected by an Act of Parliament, which mandates the replacement of any encroached portion, the Stray’s integrity remains safeguarded, ensuring its perpetuity as a cherished public treasure at the heart of the town.

Historically entrenched, the Stray traces its origins to the illustrious Forest of Knaresborough, once a royal hunting ground under the tenure of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, in 1369. As Harrogate burgeoned within its confines, concerns over unlawful incursions prompted a survey commissioned by the Duchy of Lancaster in 1767, culminating in the Enclosure Act of 1770. Recognizing the intrinsic value of the unenclosed land, the subsequent Great Award of 1778 preserved two hundred acres for public access, facilitating the exploration of the land’s famed mineral springs.

This award also granted grazing rights, birthing the moniker “Stray,” synonymous with unenclosed lands across Yorkshire. In the absence of explicit management directives, the Harrogate Improvement Act of 1841 established a committee of Stray gate owners to oversee its governance, a role later assumed by the municipal borough following its inception in 1884. Subsequent legislation in 1893 mandated the corporation to maintain the Stray as a public open space, solidifying its status as a cherished communal asset.

Throughout its rich tapestry of history, the Stray has played host to myriad civic celebrations, from the exuberant Golden Jubilee revelries of Queen Victoria in 1887 to wartime precautions during World War II, underscoring its significance as a locus of communal gatherings and resilience. Today, enshrined by the Harrogate Stray Act of 1985, the Stray continues to serve as a testament to the enduring bond between nature, leisure, and community, perpetuating its legacy as a cherished cornerstone of Harrogate’s identity.

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