The park is on an ancient site, originally called Palingswick Manor. Alice Perrers, Edward II's mistress, lived here in the 14th century. A new manor house was built in 1650 and sold in 1747 to Thomas Corbett, who changed the name to Ravenscourt (a pun on his name - corbeau is French for 'raven'). In 1812 the manor was owned by George Scott, the builder who developed St Peter's Square, and the garden laid out by leading landscaper Humphry Repton. The house and 30 acres were bought by the Metropolitan Board of Works in 1887, and laid out by JJ Sexby as a park, which opened to the public in 1888. There are many remnants of older planting throughout the park, including plane and cedar.
The walled garden, which in summer is full of climbing roses and colourful perennials in a formal circular layout, is tended by a group of volunteers, in partnership with the park staff.