Roundwood Park * (Brent)
* on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens
Roundwood Park opened in May 1895 on land which was once known as Hunger Hill Common Field, formerly part of the Roundwood House Estate. Roundwood House was built in c.1836 to the south of the present park; it was owned by the Furness family from 1856-1936. In 1892 c.13 hectares of estate lands were sold to Willesden Local Board for a public park, in response to public pressure as the area became built up. Its design included path layout, planting of thousands of trees and shrubs, a mock-Tudor lodge, children's gymnasium, greenhouses and a bandstand and flagstaff at the highest point; at the entrance were fine wrought-iron gates and railings.
- Site location:
- Harlesden Road/Longstone Avenue, Willesden
- What 3 Words:
- Type of site:
- Public Park
- Open to public?
- Opening times:
- 8am to dusk. Roundwood Lodge Café open all year round
- Special conditions:
- Playground, wildlife area and aviary, bowling green, Roundwood Lodge Café, toilets.
- Brent Fireworks Display, Shri Nidhi Hindu Festival, London Irish Festival, Brent Show
- Public transport:
- Tube: Dollis Hill (Jubilee). London Overground/Tube (Bakerloo): Willesden Junction. Bus: 52, 98, 206, 226, 297
- Research updated:
- Last minor changes:
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.brent.gov.uk
Full Site Description
Site on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens, for Register Entry see https://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list
Roundwood Park was opened by the Chairman of Middlesex County Council R D M Littler on 11 May 1895 on land that in the early C19th was known as Hunger Hill Common Field, formerly part of the Roundwood House Estate.
Roundwood House was built in c.1836 for James Denew and in 1838 was owned by Lord Decies whose son-in-law Lord Ernest (Brudenell) Bruce lived here in the 1850s. George Furness then bought the property in 1856, a civil engineer, builder and important member of the local community who owned much property in Willesden. He died in 1900 but his son George James continued to live here with his family until his death in 1936, during which time he expanded the house. In 1935 Willesden Urban District Council had compulsorily purchased the land between Roundwood Park and the House and in 1937 purchased the House, which was then demolished and its site used for an old people's home and youth centre. The house had stood south of the present park, north of the present Harlesden Lane. In 1886 c.10ha. of the estate lands to the north was offered for building but was purchased in 1888 by the Burial Board who established Willesden New Cemetery (q.v.). In June 1892 c.13 hectares of the estate lands were sold to Willesden Local Board for a public park, in response to public pressure as the area became built up. The cost of the land was £14,500 of which £500 was privately raised; a loan was secured to lay out the park, which began in October the following year costing a further £9,000 and designed by the Surveyor to the Local Board and later the District Council, Oliver Claude Robson. His work included provision of drainage, path layout, planting of 14,500 trees and shrubs, a fine mock-Tudor lodge house for the gardener built 1894, children's gymnasium now tarmaced sports pitch, greenhouses and a bandstand and flagstaff at the highest point. The extravagant wrought-iron gates and railings were provided by a local company, Messrs. Tickner & Partington.
At the park's opening the Chairman of the Parks Committee described it as 'a veritable Garden of Eden without the serpents'. The park entrance was set back from the main road behind a shallow D-shaped lawn, formed by straightening of old Harlesden Lane, with flowering cherries, willows, rose bed and lawns, within a low stone wall. Inside the gates is a brilliant display of bedding, complemented by superbly maintained shrub borders. The path from the entrance leads to a drinking fountain under what looks like a roof tree and weather vane; elsewhere in the park is a rockery dating from 1895, with ornamental evergreens and two ponds added in 1957. Two oak trees were planted in 1897 in honour of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. A refreshment chalet was built in 1897 surrounded by a veranda to enable refreshments to be taken outside in the 'continental custom'. This was replaced post WWII by a new café in 1958. The hilltop bandstand was regularly used for concerts as a result of which in c.1910 a new one was built south of the playground where there was more space for the audience. This was later replaced in 1959 by an Open Air Theatre, today surrounded by a circle of mature plane trees. The Bowling Green was added in 1923, constructed under Unemployment Relief Works and opened in 1924. In 1953 a model railway was temporarily set up for the Willesden Carnival by the Willesden and West London Society of Model Engineers, later becoming a permanent attraction until the 1970s. In 1955 the Willesden and District Caged Birds Society gained approval for an Aviary to be constructed which opened in 1956, and the fishpond near the lodge was provided at the instigation of the Willesden and District Aquarist Club in 1957.
The park has good specimen trees including a tulip tree, many London planes and hybrid poplars define the park's structure, standing in groups as well along the walks, and there are scattered poplar, oak and hawthorn. A new wrought iron cupola from the Olympia Garden Show 1994 was erected for the park's centenary in 1995. The ground rises to a hill called the Knowle in the north on the top of which there was once the bandstand now a viewing point, which overlooks Willesden New Cemetery and the two Jewish Cemeteries (q.q.v.). Other amenities include an Open air theatre, bowling green; modern aviary and cafeteria.
The Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England was established in 1984 and was commonly called English Heritage. In April 2015 it split into 2 separate entities, Historic England (HE), which continues to champion and protect the historic environment, and the English Heritage Trust, whose role is to look after the 400+ historic sites and monuments owned by the state. HE manages the National Heritage List for England (NHLE) that includes over 400,000 items ranging from prehistoric monuments to office blocks, battlefields and parks, which benefit from legal protection.
Cliff Wadsworth 'Roundwood Park, Notes on its History', Willesden Local History Society, 1997; L Snow, 'Willesden Past', 1994; The Builder v.68, 1895, p376, LB Brent Local History Archives - photographs and cuttings files; Victoria County History VII 1982 p192; Len Snow 'Brent, Wembley, Willesden and Kingsbury' (Phillimore, 1990). See also https://londongardenstrust.org/features/roundwood.htm: Hazelle Jackson, 'The History of Roundwood Park' in London Landscapes, No 5, Autumn 2003.
Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
- Grid ref:
- TQ222839 (522074,184073)
- Size in hectares:
- Site ownership:
- LB Brent
- Site management:
- Parks Service; Friends of Roundwood Park
- Oliver Claude Robson, Engineer and Surveyor to Willesden Local Board
- Listed structures:
- On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:
- NHLE grade:
- Grade II
- 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 - see note
- Green Belt:
- Metropolitan Open Land:
- Special Policy Area:
- Other LA designation:
- Public Open Space. Nature Conservation Area: two-thirds of park/northern section (with 3 abutting cemeteries)
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.