|Alexandra Park and Palace *||Haringey|
* on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens
Alexandra Park is on the site of Tottenham Wood Farm. Early plans for a 'North London Palace of the People' date from 1856 but came to nothing. In 1863 the Alexandra Park Committee was formed to acquire and lay out the land for public recreation, and the exhibition building from the Great International Exhibition at South Kensington was purchased and re-erected. Alexandra Park opened in 1863.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/11/2008
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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.
Site on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens, for Register Entry see https://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list
Alexandra Park is on the site of Tottenham Wood Farm, an area of over 182 ha. described as 'undulating and well timbered with abundant springs and water' and with magnificent views. Early plans for a 'North London Palace of the People', inspired by Crystal Palace (1851), were proposed when the grandchildren of Thomas Rhodes inherited the farm in 1856. They drew up a scheme whereby two-thirds of the land would be sold for building to finance the creation of a public park. A layout by John Spencer of Bowood dated 1858 and another by Francis Fuller of 1860 came to nothing.
In 1863 the Alexandra Park Committee was formed to acquire and lay out the land for public recreation, and the exhibition building from the Great International Exhibition at South Kensington in 1862 was purchased and re-erected. In 1863 4.05 ha. of the grounds of the adjacent Grove estate were purchased and the 81 ha. Alexandra Park, designed by Alexander McKenzie, opened in July 1863. The original entrance from the north was a gate off the west end of Alexandra Park Road from where The Avenue, lined with chestnut trees, led through the park; the Palace was then in the centre of the park. The park was laid out with a pattern of informal walks leading down through lawns set with specimen trees, shrubs and informal bedding. In 1868 a race course was opened at the foot of the hill and operated until September 1970, the centre of which is now a cricket ground. Due to financial difficulties the Palace did not open until 1873, but burnt down after 16 days and, rebuilt to the designs of a Mr Johnson, it re-opened in 1875 when new features were also added to the park including a race track, cricket ground, ornamental lakes and a permanent fun fair. Alexandra Park Open Air Baths opened on 1 May 1875, located between the race course and the New River Reservoirs, and were still in use at least until 1907, probably closing in the 1920s or 30s.
Due to continuing financial problems, Parliamentary powers were obtained in 1877 to sell off 32.4 ha. of land north of the Palace for building, but Bills in the 1880s and 1890s to sell off the whole park were unsuccessful, although land to the east of the northern end of The Avenue was sold and Vallance and Elgin Roads were developed, as well as housing either side of The Avenue. What is now the boating lake was one of a series of ornamental pools formed by damming the stream that originally ran down the western boundary of the site, which was the setting for a water village; the rest of the lakes were lost as part of the sale of land in the late 1870s. A circus with seating for 3,000 people to the east of The Avenue was also lost when land was sold in the 1880s.
In 1901 Alexandra Palace and Park Trust was set up, to be administered by the local authorities, which required the Palace and Park to be 'available for the free use and recreation of the public forever', for which c.70ha. were purchased. In the 1920s a miniature golf course and other sports facilities were added to the park. In 1935 the BBC leased the eastern part of the Palace and made the first public transmissions in 1936. The railway station that had been built in the park to the north of the Palace with a branch line to Highgate and access to central London was closed in 1954. In 1967 Palace and Park came under the Greater London Council. In 1980 the Palace caught fire and was restored by London Borough of Haringey who took over the park from the GLC, and the Palace reopened in 1988 with indoor ice rink and banqueting, conference, exhibition and entertainment facilities. An Italian Garden had previously occupied the courtyard of the Palace between the Great Hall and the western conservatory, the fountain from which was moved after the 1980 fire to the oval hedge-enclosed rose garden to the east of the Palace and this remains today.
Although the park has undergone numerous alterations over the years the original path system is still traceable. Through a £3.5m Landscape Development project funded by Heritage Lottery Fund and LB Haringey the park has undergone a wide range of improvements to the play area, two cafés, skate park, pitch & putt course and general infrastructure. To the south-west of the Palace the Park continues as The Grove - see separate entry. Green Flag Award since 2008/9 and Green Heritage Award
EH Register sources: Illustrated London News, 16/7/1859; P Smith, Alexandra Palace and Park, Hornsey Historical Bulletin no. 24; S Brown, article 'the People's Palace: Alexandra Palace and its changing role in society'; Ken Gay, Lost Houses of Haringey, Haringey History Bulletin no. 29, 1988; B Elliott, Victorian Gardens, 1986. Alexandra Park Management Plan 2008-2018; Website: 'Lidos in London no longer open' compiled by Oliver Merrington and Andy Hoines, with additional details and photographs from Ian Gordon, www.lidos.org.uk