Boscombe means a valley where spiky plants grow.
Boscombe Chine Gardens are located in a steep-sided valley known locally as a 'Chine'. The Chine runs roughly north west to south east where it reaches the coast at Boscombe Pier; a side valley joins the Chine from the west, about half way along its length.
Prior to the development of the site, the sides of the Chine formed part of the once extensive Dorset heathland, although vegetation was sparse towards the sea with exposed soft sandstone banks and cliffs.
The upper section of Boscombe Chine Gardens were first laid out between 1868-71 by Sir Henry Drummond Wolff, the local landowning MP, as 'pleasure grounds' for the adjoining properties.
Wolff's original design included:
A mineral spring existed at the southern (or lower end) of the Gardens until the 1920s, which gave the surrounding area the name 'Boscombe Spa'.
- Croquet Grounds with shelter
- A Rustic Bridge
- A Substantial Lodge (which stands in the northwest corner of the Gardens)
In the 1860's there was a building boom that transformed the picturesque village of Boscombe Spa into a fashionable coastal resort, famed for its aromatic pines, public promenades, and Italian and Elizabethan style villas.
The key period of Gardens' development occurred during the 1880's, when they were transformed into a public park under the direction of the Borough of Bournemouth Pleasure Grounds Committee.
In 1883-4, the western arm of the Chine was leased to the Bournemouth Improvement Commissioners by Sir George Meyrick, this included the area designed by Sir Henry Drummond Wolf back in 1868. Over several years the development of the gardens continued and included:
Despite a number of changes in the intervening years, the general layout of the Gardens remains largely intact.
The principal alterations to the original layout include:
- Channeling of the stream
- Building of the main paths
- Levelling, planting and turfing
- Construction of a model boating pond, tennis courts and tennis pavilion
- The disappearance of the Spa spring
- Replacement of public tennis courts with mini golf
- Filling in of the model boating pond
- Improvements to the northern boundary of the site (Christchurch Road)
- Replacement of the rustic bridge with a concrete structure
- Cliff stabilisation
- Road widening at the southern end opposite Boscombe Pier