Ruskin Park * (Lambeth)
* on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens
Ruskin Park is an Edwardian park named for John Ruskin who lived nearby. The land was originally the gardens of several large houses that were purchased in 1906 by the LCC. The park opened in 1907; an extension to the south was acquired in 1909 and opened in 1910. The park contains an architectural fragment from one of the houses demolished for the park, converted as a shelter, and many features remain from the early layout by the LCC's Head of Parks Lt Col J J Sexby, including the Old English Garden, oval pond, bowling green, bandstand and mature trees.
- Previous / Other name:
- Dane House
- Site location:
- Denmark Hill/Fernden Road/Finsen Road/Herne Hill Road
- SE5 8EL
- Type of site:
- Public Park
- Open to public?
- Opening times:
- 7am - 15 minutes before sunset
- Special conditions:
- Children's play area (dog free), paddling pool, sports facilities, toilets. Tree Trail/Nature Trail,
- Public transport:
- Rail: Denmark Hill, Loughborough Junction. Bus: 35, 42, 45, 68, 345, 468, P4
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/04/2012
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.lambeth.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
Ruskin Park is named after the artist, writer and social campaigner John Ruskin who lived nearby for most of his life. The Ruskin family including 4-year old John moved to Denmark Hill in 1823, and the family house was 163 Denmark Hill on the opposite side of Denmark Hill where the Denmark Hill estate now is. The land for the park was the grounds of several houses, only one of which in part retained, and the original 10-hectare site was first considered for purchase by the LCC in 1904. The site was eventually bought for £48,000, with £25,000 from the LCC and the balance from private subscriptions and other bodies including metropolitan borough councils of Camberwell, Lambeth and Southwark. The first section of the park, which opened on 2 February 1907, was laid out by the LCC’s Chief Parks Officer Lieut. Col J J Sexby and included an Old English Garden, oval duck pond with central nesting island, bowling green, fine trees and walks. A late C18th entrance colonnade and flanking walls, which was retained from 170 Denmark Hill, one of the demolished houses, provided a shelter near one of the entrances to the park. To the east of this was a shrubbery, later replaced by a paved rose garden in the mid C20th. Another of the houses demolished when the park was laid out was Dane House, 168 Denmark Hill, which was visited by the composer Felix Mendelssohn in 1842, where he composed his 'Spring Song'. A terracotta sundial decorated with Tudor roses was erected in the park commemorating his visit. A former C19th coach house survives, and was later used for staff. A fine wisteria-covered pergola on the south east side of the bowling green dating from the 1907 layout is thought to be on the line of one of the boundary walls between two of the houses. Although bowling and tennis courts were provided, the undulating ground was little suited for other sports, and in 1909 a further 5 hectares of adjacent meadow was purchased. This was levelled for cricket and football, and a 900 yard running track was laid out. A shelter and toilets were built near the entrance and the extension was opened in February 1910. A wooden bandstand with a tiled roof appears to date from later than 1909, sited within a circle of trees, some of which survive. The bandstand was restored in 2006
Most boundaries have belts of trees with denser plantations and shrubbery to the north-east. The main northern area is divided by a chestnut walk between two areas of lawn. The oval pond in the north-east quarter has shrubbery, planes and weeping willows, to the west of which is the bandstand and to the south the bowling green with clipped yew hedge and mixed borders. Fine trees east of the pond and bowling green include deodar, cedar of Lebanon, thorn, copper beech, holm oak, whitebeam and sycamore. The southern area of the park is separated by lines of lime and ash and has grass and sports areas.
The Friends of Ruskin Park was formed to ensure the park is conserved, and their efforts led to Ruskin Park's first Green Flag Award in 2009. Among the works undertaken by the Friends has been a new pond on the north side, in partnership with Froglife, and improvements to the ornamental pond near the bandstand. The sum of £21,000 has been raised from Western Riverside Environment Fund to convert the old bowling green into a new garden, which should be completed in time for the Summer Fair in 2012. Another project led by Embrace Cooperation Ltd working with the Friends, Lambeth Council and local groups is focussing on the park's historic and natural heritage., and will include an oral history among other activities.
EH Register: E Cecil 'London Parks and Gardens' 1907; Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 2: South (Penguin) 1999. Marie Draper 'Lambeth's Open Spaces, An historical account', LB Lambeth 1979; Ian Yarham, Michael Waite, Andrew Simpson, Niall Machin, 'Nature Conservation in Lambeth', Ecology Handbook 26 (London Ecology Unit), 1994; Hazelle Jackson, ‘Lt-Col. J.J. Sexby - Father of London’s Municipal Parks - An Appreciation’ in The London Gardener, vol. 11, 2005-06. See also https://londongardenstrust.org/features/ruskin2006.htm: Hazelle Jackson, 'A Brief History of Ruskin Park', London Landscapes, No.12, Spring 2006.
Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
- Grid ref:
- Size in hectares:
- Site ownership:
- LB Lambeth
- Site management:
- Environment Directorate, Parks and Greenspaces Unit (Team Lambeth). Ruskin Park Management Advisory Committee; Friends of Ruskin Park
- Lieut. Col J J Sexby
- Listed structures:
- LBII: Colonnade; Sundial; Coach house
- 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:
- Nature Conservation Area:
- Yes - Borough Importance II
- Green Belt:
- Metropolitan Open Land:
- Special Policy Area:
- Other LA designation:
- Historic Parks and Gardens. Park
Ruskin Park - Bandstand - Photo: Colin Wing
Date taken: 23/06/20 09:39
Click photo to enlarge.