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Clissold Park * Hackney
   
Summary: * on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens

Until the late C18th the area was mainly fields, bisected in the early C17th by a bend in the New River in the south-west with common land in the north. In the early 1790s, the land was leased to Jonathan Hoare, son of a prominent Quaker, who built a house called Paradise House and laid out the grounds, planting numerous trees. The daughter of a later owner married the curate of the parish church, Revd Clissold, and when they inherited the house it was re-named Clissold Place. Clissold Park was saved from development when it was purchased by the MBW in 1887 through a special Act of Parliament, and was laid out as a public park, which opened in 1889. It was the first urban park to have an animal enclosure, which was laid out in the 1890s.
Previous / Other name: Stoke Newington Park; Newington Park
Site location: Stoke Newington Church Street/ Green Lanes/Greenway Close
Postcode: N4 2EY > Google Map
Type of site: Public Park
Date(s): 1790s; 1880s
Designer(s): 1790s: Joseph Woods; 1880s
Listed structures: LBII*: Clissold House; LBII: boundary stone of 1790 near east gate of park.
Borough: Hackney
Site ownership: LB Hackney
Site management: Hackney Parks Service; Clissold Park User Group
Open to public? Yes
Opening times: 7.30am - 9.30pm (summer) / 4.30pm (winter). Butterfly Tunnel Tue & Thu summer: 12.30-2-30pm. Paddling Pool Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat/Sun & Bhols 11am-7pm
Special conditions:
Facilities: Café, toilets; children's play facilities, paddling pool (summer), tennis/netball courts, cricket/football/rounders' pitches, croquet, putting, fishing; bowling green; aviary, animal enclosure, butterfly tunnel
Events: Various including environmental education events, tree walks, school holiday events plus arts projects; junior tennis club. Occasional wild food walks take place in the park, led by Forage London - see www.foragelondon.co.uk for details of dates/cost.
Public transport: London Overground: Canonbury. Tube: Manor House (Piccadilly) then bus; Angel (Northern) then bus. Bus 4, 19, 73, 106, 141, 236, 341, 393, 476.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/10/2010
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.hackney.gov.uk/cp-community-park.htm; www.clissoldpark.com

Fuller information:

Site on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens, for Register Entry see https://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list

Until the late C18th what is now Clissold Park had been fields bisected in the early C17th by a bend in the New River in the south-west with common land in the north. In the early 1790s, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners who owned the land adjacent to St Mary's Old Church (q.v.), leased land to Jonathan Hoare, son of Samuel Hoare, a prominent Quaker merchant from Cork in Ireland who had moved with his family to Stoke Newington in the mid C18th. At that time Stoke Newington was renowned as a centre for those with non-conformist views. Jonathan Hoare had his mansion built on the site, reputedly by his nephew Joseph Woods, both an architect and a botanist, although his date of birth - 1776 - seems to preclude this. The house was originally called Paradise House after Paradise Row where the family had first lived in Stoke Newington, also known as Newington Park House, and not called Clissold House until the C19th. The lands around the house, which became known as Stoke Newington Park or Newington Park, were also laid out by Hoare with parkland around the New River in the south, and woodland in the north around two lakes made from Hackney Brook, which had been dug for clay pits for the interior bricks for the house. There were kitchen gardens to the north-east of the house and gardens between the house and the church to the east, and Church Street to the south. The eastern portion between the kitchen gardens and the eastern pond remained fields. During this period numerous trees were planted, some of them rare and exotic; Hackney was also known for its pioneering nurseries.

By the early C19th, Jonathan Hoare had got into financial difficulties and the owner of the estate was a Thomas Gudgeon, who sold it to a Mr Crawshay in 1811, resulting in it being known locally as Crawshay's Farm. Crawshay's daughter and the curate of the local parish church, Reverend Augustus Clissold, fell in love but were prevented from meeting, let alone marrying, until her father had died, such was the latter's antithesis to the clergy. Upon inheriting the house, the Clissolds re-named it Clissold Place; however, the estate reverted to the Crawshay family following the death of Revd. Clissold. By the mid C19th the wooded area had been reduced and an avenue had been planted from the north side of the house to the space between the two ponds. In 1884 and 1886, the then owner George Crawshay was prevented by three public petitions from selling the freehold portion of the estate around the house for building development. At that time The Commons Preservation Society was campaigning to save open spaces such as the ancient Newington Common, and in 1887 The Metropolitan Open Spaces Act was passed, strengthening the powers of London public authorities as regards open spaces. As a result of this and particularly through the efforts of two men, Joseph Beck of the Council of the City of London and John Runtz of the Metropolitan Board of Works (MBW), Clissold Park was finally purchased by the MBW in 1887 through a special Act of Parliament, with financial assistance from, among others, the Charity Commissioners and Stoke Newington Vestry.

It was laid out for public recreation and, nearly re-named Royal Albert Park, it was formally opened as Clissold Park on 24th July 1889 by the Earl of Roseberry, Chairman of the new London County Council, the successor to the MBW. In 1890 a drinking fountain in recognition of Beck and Runtz was erected by public subscription, sited on a slight mound. They are also celebrated in the names given to the two lakes to the north of the park: Runtzmere and Beckmere. Clissold Park was described by Lord Eversley of the Commons Preservation Society as 'one of the most beautifully laid out and planted parks', and W H Hudson, the C19th natural history writer whose memorial can be found in Hyde Park (q.v.) suggested that Stoke Newington might connect Clissold Park with the nearby Abney Park Cemetery (q.v.) 'to make them one park of not less than a hundred acres'. Clissold Park was the first urban park to have an animal enclosure, which was laid out in the 1890s and then expanded to its present size in 1910s. An octagonal bandstand was erected in the late C19th but was demolished in the late C20th to be replaced by a wooden stage on the east side of an area of tarmac. Other facilities added during the C20th include a children's paddling pool in the 1930s, and the bowling green. Clissold House, with its six-column Doric stone veranda, was used for refreshments from the late C19th and continues to be the Park café. On the north end of the house is a mural fountain put up by Rose Crawshay in 1893 in memory of 3 of her sisters who died as children. The main entrances leading up to the house were to the south east and remain entrances to the park, although the C18th lodge and stable block were demolished in the C19th. Near the site of the lodge an old boundary stone dated 1790 still stands, which used to demarcate Hornsey and Stoke Newington Parishes.

As part of a jointly funded initiative between LB Hackney and the Heritage Lottery Fund, £8.9m was invested to restore Clissold House and Park in 2010 and completed by summer 2011. The park won a Green Flag in 2010. From time to time it has been used for temporary arts projects, for example from 11-18 June 2000 it hosted 'Parklight', 6 artists' installations.

In 1996 Clissold Park became the site of Growing Communities' first urban market garden, now joined by those at Springfield Park (q.v.) and Allens Gardens (q.v.), which are now the project's main growing sites. Growing Communities is a community-led organisation based in Hackney. All three of the market gardens are certified by the Soil Association and were the first organically certified food growing land in London. The project specialises in salad leaves and is the only London box scheme to include organic salad grown in Hackney in its vegetable bags. They employ a part-time Grower and an Assistant Grower, who are assisted by two Apprentice Growers and a volunteer work team.

Sources consulted:

'Clissold Park', Abney Park Cemetery Trust, 1997; English Heritage Register listing (2000) & sources: E Cecil, London Parks and Gardens, 1907; Zoe Croad, Clissold House, Stoke Newington N16 (Hackney society Newsletter, Autumn 1989); Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 4: North (Penguin, 1998); J J Sexby, The Municipal Parks, Gardens and Open Spaces of London (1898)
Grid ref: TQ326864
Size in hectares: 21 (?22.1)
   
On EH National Register : Yes
EH grade: Grade II
Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:
Registered common or village green
on Commons Registration Act 1965:
No
Protected under London Squares
Preservation Act 1931:
No
 
The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
On Local List:
In Conservation Area: Yes
Conservation Area name: Clissold Park
Tree Preservation Order: Not known
Nature Conservation Area: Yes - Borough Importance I
Green Belt: No
Metropolitan Open Land: No
Special Policy Area: No
Other LA designation: Open Space; Green Link
   

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