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Downhills Park and Downhills Recreation Ground Haringey
   
Summary: The park is on land that was once part of the large Mount Pleasant estate where in 1789 Downhills House was built, which had ornamental gardens on the south and a grove of trees towards the river. Part of Downhills Estate was leased to Broadwater Farm. The estate had numerous private owners, the last of whom sold it to the British Land Company who sold it on to Tottenham UDC in 1902, when the house was demolished. The public park was laid out on the former landscaped grounds although many fields were built over. Downhills Park opened in 1903 but was extended in 1904 with 4 acres purchased from the railway company. Early features included a rockery, Italian Garden, lake, thatched arbour, water-tower, conservatory, bandstand, model railway, keeper's lodge, elaborate stone terraces and fine hornbeam avenue. Although little of this survives, the Italian Gardens are still laid out with formal bedding, and the park has many fine trees. On the west side of the park is the more informal area of Downhills Recreation Ground.
Previous / Other name:
Site location: Downhills Park Road/West Green Road/Keston Road
Postcode: N17 > Google Map
Type of site: Public Park
Date(s): C19th; 1903
Designer(s): Not known
Listed structures:
Borough: Haringey
Site ownership: LB Haringey
Site management: Parks Service (West Green Neighbourhood) / Friends of Downhills Park
Open to public? Yes
Opening times: unrestricted
Special conditions:
Facilities: Football, playground, tennis courts, basketball, bowling green
Events:
Public transport: Tube: Seven Sisters (Victoria) then bus; Turnpike Lane (Piccadilly) then bus. Rail: Seven Sisters. Bus 67, 230, W4, 341.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/11/2011
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.haringey.gov.uk

Fuller information:

Downhills Park is on an irregularly shaped site surrounded by residential streets, enclosed by iron railings to the south, west, north and the northern half of the east boundary. The land was once part of the 290-acre Mount Pleasant estate where in 1789 the house was rebuilt on the site of an earlier house that dated from before 1728. The new 3-storey brick mansion was renamed Downhills (but also appears as Uplands) and was occupied by the banker, Rowland Stephenson. It had ornamental gardens on the south side and a grove of trees towards the Moselle river. Part of Downhills Estate was leased to Broadwater Farm, which was later built over in the 1970s for the housing estate of the same name. After Rowland Stephenson's death in 1808, the estate was in the ownership of Henry Hoare Townsend who initially offered the house with 81 acres, as well as Broadwater Farm with 119 acres, for sale by auction, but this was subsequently withdrawn and he lived in the house until 1826. The next occupant was the poet, the Revd. Chauncey Townsend, and in 1884 the developer William Hodson bought the house and lived here until 1890. In 1892 he leased the property to a Mrs Cummings for her school for young ladies. Hodson then sold Downhills to the British Land Company who sold it on to Tottenham Urban District Council in 1902, when the house was demolished.

The first 26 acres of the public park were laid out on the former landscaped grounds although many of the fields were built over. The retention of the land as public open space was largely due to local residents campaigning for the park, as the site had been earmarked for housing. The park was opened to the public on 6 August 1903. It was soon extended on the recommendation of the District Medical Officer following a smallpox epidemic, with 4 acres purchased from the Great Eastern Railway Company in 1904. Early C20th postcards show the park soon after it opened with features including a rockery, Italian Garden, lake, thatched arbour, water-tower, conservatory, bandstand, model railway, keeper's lodge, elaborate stone terraces and a famous hornbeam avenue. The park was the venue for various events, including concerts, flower shows and on 28 April 1934 a Giant Draughts Board, 'the first in the Metropolis', was opened by the Chair of Parks Committee.

Today very little of this formal layout survives. The Italian Gardens in the centre are still laid out with formal bedding but on a much smaller scale than the original, and only the base of the ornamental pool is retained, but as a planter. North of the tennis courts and bowling green are the remains of a terrace with stone balustrade, and some C20th specimen trees including cedar and sweet chestnut. To the west is a sloping belt of mature trees, the oldest being oaks and poplars from the C19th. A line of late C19th poplars runs along the boundary between the park proper and the recreation ground to the west, which is used for both organised sport and for more informal recreation throughout the year. A small area of rockwork survives near the north east entrance. There are mature Quercus ilex, ash and horse chestnuts and later C20th lime and hornbeam avenues. Downhills Park has won a Green Flag Award in consecutive years since 2006.

Sources consulted:

Fisk (1913) p 103; F Fisk 'History of the Ancient Parish of Tottenham' (1923) pp157, 297, 328; Robinson 1840, vol 1.pp 116-7; Andrew Crowe, 'The Parks and Woodlands of London' (Fourth Estate, 1987) p 299; Curtis pp 95-6
Grid ref: TQ324896
Size in hectares: 12.15
   
On EH National Register : No
EH grade:
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: Yes
In Conservation Area: No
Conservation Area name:
Tree Preservation Order: Not known
Nature Conservation Area: Yes - Local Importance
Green Belt: No
Metropolitan Open Land: Yes
Special Policy Area: Yes (part) - Southern tip of site falls within area of archaeological importance
Other LA designation:
   

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