Gladstone Park (Brent)
The core of Gladstone Park was formed from parkland of Dollis Hill House, once an extensive estate. The house that remains in the park today was built in 1825. Owned by the Earl of Aberdeen in the late C19th, the Liberal Leader William Gladstone was often a guest here. In 1898 the house and land south of Dollis Hill Lane were acquired by Willesden Rural District Council and laid out as Gladstone Park, opened by the Earl of Aberdeen in 1901. Many fine parkland trees remain from the earlier landscape and around the house, retained features include the lake and walled garden. Additional features included an open air pool opened in 1903, now a bowling green, flower beds and a formal terraced garden. A Holocaust Memorial by the artist Fred Kormis was erected c.1970 in the north-west.
- Site location:
- Mulgrave Road/Kendal Road/Dollis Hill Lane/Parkside, Dollis Hill
- What 3 Words:
- Type of site:
- Public Park
- Open to public?
- Opening times:
- unrestricted (Walled Garden locked at dusk)
- Special conditions:
- Playground, tennis courts, sports ground, car park. Café, toilets; The Stables Arts Centre and Gallery
- Fun Day and other events
- Public transport:
- Tube: Dollis Hill (Jubilee). Rail: Kendal Road. Bus: 16, 182, 226, 232.
- Research updated:
- Last minor changes:
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.brent.gov.uk
Full Site Description
The area of Willesden remained rural until the late C19th. The core of Gladstone Park was formed from parkland of Dollis Hill House. Originally the estate lands were more extensive and a large C17th house, rebuilt in 1800, was used as Dollis Hill Farm until the early C20th when it was demolished. Dollis Hill House, now much altered, was a smaller house built south of Dollis Hill Lane in 1825, which was occupied in the late C19th by the Earl of Aberdeen and was a favourite residence of the Liberal leader and Prime Minster, Sir William Gladstone when he was a guest of the Earl between 1882-96. In 1897 Sir Hugh Gilzean-Reid bought the estate, which he then sold in 1898.
The house and land south of Dollis Hill Lane was acquired by Willesden Rural District Council for £50,000 and laid out as Gladstone Park; it was opened by the Earl of Aberdeen in May 1901. The original parkland, on rising ground to the north around the house retains distinct landscape planting of oaks, with one or two old thorns; it is overlaid with plane-lined walks and the perimeter is planted with limes and planes. On 18 July 1903 Lord Gladstone opened Gladstone Park Open Air Pool, 'a large kidney shaped pool with a 75ft straight stretch', which was built at a cost of £2,569 6s 5d. It appears to have been open until the 1980s but later became the site of a bowling green.
Around the house, retained features include the lake and walled garden on the north boundary; additional features include flower beds, formal terraced garden with rose beds to north. Dollis Hill House was used as a hospital during WWI. The park has fine views to south and west renowned in the C19th, and Mark Twain, who lived in the area briefly in 1900 described it as 'divinely beautiful and peaceful'. The railway was built through the south part of the park and a small station established in the early C20th. During WWWII there were large gun emplacements put there to attack incoming German aircraft and later to combat the so-called Doodlebugs and then the V2 rockets, one of which fell into the grounds of Gladstone Park Primary School. The railway through the park carried many thousands of troops returning to Britain at the end of the war.
A number of earlier features have since gone including a rustic bandstand and kiosk, open air swimming pool and the English Garden within the walled garden is much simplified. In the north-west part of the park is a monument dedicated to prisoners of war and the victims of concentration camps in WWII by sculptor Fred Kormis (1887-1986). The Memorial was installed in 1970 and is especially poignant as Kormis was himself held prisoner of war. The Stables on Dollis Hill Lane have become an Arts Centre and Gallery. In the late 1980s, Gladstone Park Steering Group was set up to involve local people in the future plans for the park, and various improvements have been undertaken: poop-scoop scheme, enlargement and cleaning of the pond area, repair of the walled garden, tree planting and replanting those lost in storms, fencing, re-surfacing tennis courts, a picnic area created on the old swimming pool site, enlargement of children's play area as 'Fort Gladstone' and nesting boxes installed, in addition to running events in the park. A wildlife area has been created on the south-facing slope below the pond.
In 2003/04, Gladstone Park underwent a Heritage Lottery Funded refurbishment programme and as a result many of the features and facilities have been restored, including the walled garden, tennis courts and bowling green. Elizabeth Banks Associates was engaged to undertake restoration works of hedgerows and avenues. The Walled Garden won a London in Bloom award in 2005. As part of the HLF project Land Use Consultants restored the Fred Kormis Memorial, which had been vandalised in 2003.
Harriet Jordan 'Public Parks 1885-1914' (AA dissertation 1992); Gardener's Chronicle 1899, v.25, 320; 'Gladstone Park, Its History and its Memoirs of Gladstone' (nd, local history library publication, LB Brent); The Municipal Journal no 434 vol x, 24 May 1901; Victoria County History; Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 3: North West' (Penguin, 1999 ed); Len Snow, 'Brent - Wembley, Willesden and Kingsbury', (Phillimore, 1990); Website 'Lidos in London no longer open' compiled by Oliver Merrington and Andy Hoines with additional detail and photographs from Ian Gordon, www.lidos.org.uk; Fred Kormis Memorial Restored by Land Use Consultants as part of the HLF-funded Restoration of Gladstone Park in Brent: https://londongardenstrust.org/features/gladstone.pdf.
Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
- Grid ref:
- TQ222860 (522431,185799)
- Size in hectares:
- Site ownership:
- LB Brent
- Site management:
- Parks Service; Gladstone Park Steering Group & Consultative Committee
- Listed structures:
- LBII: Dollis Hill House
- On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:
- Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:
- Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:
Local Authority Data
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:
- Tree Preservation Order:
- Not known
- Nature Conservation Area:
- Yes - Borough Importance II
- Green Belt:
- Metropolitan Open Land:
- Special Policy Area:
- Other LA designation:
- Public Open Space
Gladstone Park, March 2001. Photo: S Williams
Click a photo to enlarge.
Please note the Inventory and its content are provided for your general information only and are subject to change. It is your responsibility to check the accuracy.