The village is very proud of its playing field, which is sited at the junction of Port Lane and Shipton Road. It was given to the County Council by George Samways of Innsacre House in 1937 as his contribution to the "King George V Memorial Fund". The deeds stipulate it being for the use of the children of Shipton Gorge to provide a place where they can play safely. There were a large number of playing fields throughout England given to this fund and many, including ours, are still known as King George's Field.
At the time of its gift, the field was being used as allotments and it was not until 1947 that it was re-seeded as a playing field. In 1952 the stone gate-posts were built and each one has a marvellous plaque depicting a coat of arms built into it. These gate posts were re-built in 2000 as they had started to lean due to their age and the plaques were reinstated in them as before. The field itself was not officially declared open until 1961 and it was then that the swings and slide were installed. In 1963 the present barrier-type metal gates replaced the old wooden ones and a see-saw was erected, this being later removed in 1976.
Over the years various additions and improvements have taken place, mainly funded by the Parish Council with grants from the National Playing Fields Association and Dorset County Council, along with a great deal of local fund raising within the village. A climbing frame was installed in 1975, a roundabout in 1978, safety surfacing in 1988, a stone shed in 1991 and a practice basketball court in 1996.
The field itself has been maintained for many years by different residents who are paid a nominal sum as a token for all their hard work.
The day to day running of the field and the on-going maintenance programme is organised by the Parish Council's Playing Field Committee and funded by the Council in conjunction with grant aid wherever possible.
The 1989 Village Appraisal stated that the Parish Council had resolved at that time to form a Charitable Trust in order to broaden the base of involvement and responsibility for the field and to relieve some of the physical burden which had always fallen onto a few people. However, it was subsequently discovered that all the King George V Playing Fields were already designated as Charitable Trusts with the Parish Council in our case being the sole trustee. The land is owned and held in trust by Dorset County Council who charge a nominal peppercorn rent to the Parish Council.
Further improvements to the field are ongoing and are carried out when funds are available to ensure that the equipment and facilities continue to provide a safe play and recreational area for all.
Since its official opening in 1961, the regulations governing the safety of play equipment and fields have changed enormously. This has meant that many of the older pieces of play equipment would fail these modern standards if installed today and so regular maintenance is essential and a programme of equipment renewal has also been put in place. The Parish Council regards the safety of the whole facility as being of paramount importance. The play equipment and general condition of the field is checked and recorded weekly by a member of the Parish Council, working on a rota basis. A safety inspection is carried out by RoSPA every year and its recommendations and proposals followed.
As you would expect, the field is particularly well used by children, especially during the school holidays, but parents, grandparents and other adults also enjoy the facilities and the view across the fields.