Inventory Site Record

South Park Gardens * (Merton)

Brief Description

* on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens

The land in this area began to be developed for housing in the late 1880s. In 1889 Wimbledon UDC purchased the site for £19,000 and South Park Pleasure Grounds were laid out in 1899, opening in September 1901, the site by now partly surrounded by housing. The layout included perimeter shrubberies, serpentine paths, scattered trees, and sumptuously planted beds. A bandstand was erected in 1913. The gardens became neglected in later years but have now been restored to their former glory through an HLF grant and re-opened in June 2009.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
South Park Pleasure Grounds
Site location:
Dudley Road/King's Road/Trinity Road
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Public Gardens
Open to public?
Opening times:
8am (weekdays)/9am (weekends/Bank Hols) - dusk
Special conditions:
Public transport:
Rail/Tube: Wimbledon (District). Bus: 200
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.merton.gov.uk/environment/openspaces/parks; www.southparkgardens.org

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. 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.

As originally laid out, the Pleasure Grounds had a series of circular features that remain linked by asphalt paths, with a straight east/west path across the centre. Judging by early C20th postcards, the beds were sumptuously planted with roses and annual bedding plants and later photographs probably taken between the two world wars show extensive shrubberies, shrub and cut beds, trellis decorated with roses and a wooden bandstand. The bandstand had been erected in 1913 and took the place of a portable stand. It was an octagonal open-sided timber building on a brick base with a thatched roof, and was used for public concerts in the summer. It was demolished in 1959. A granite Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough now used as a planter remains, as does the marble drinking fountain of 1888, which was erected at Ellen Rearden's bequest in memory of her father, mother and sister. The four entrances have Victorian style wrought iron gates, which were erected in 1994 to replace the original ones that were removed in WWII along with the railings. Among fine trees in the gardens are a large cedar of Lebanon, evergreen oak and contorted beech.

By the 1990s, South Park Gardens had become increasingly neglected and subject to vandalism. New ornamental gates installed in 1992 did little to improve the situation and in 2001 the main entrance gates were stolen. This led to the establishment of the Friends of South Park Gardens in 2002, which since then has actively lobbied and raised funds for the maintenance and restoration of the gardens. A Heritage Lottery Fund grant was successfully applied for and South Park Gardens re-opened in June 2009, following restoration undertaken by Hortech Landscapes, the same contractors that undertook the refurbishment of Battersea Park and Southwark Park (q.q.v.). The first part of the HLF funded restoration took place in 2007, with the perimeter fencing replaced with replica railings to match those that originally surrounded the garden. The work has included much renewal of planting, restoration of the drinking fountain and horse trough, with the latter re-sited near its original position. New path surfaces, seating, park furniture and signage have been installed, and new features have been added, such as a mini-beast sanctuary in the north-east corner and a wild flower meadow around the cedar tree. Security has also been addressed to discourage access to the park at night.

Sources consulted:

See EH Register: Gillian Hawtin, 'Wimbledon', (1994) 1994, p174.

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ253707 (525350,170750)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
LB Merton
Site management:
Leisure and Culture Services; Friends of South Park
Listed structures:
LBII: Horse Trough; Drinking Fountain
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:
Conservation Area name:
South Park Gardens
Tree Preservation Order:
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:
Historic Parks and Gardens. Public Open Space

South Park Gardens *

South Park Gardens (Merton) - Photo: Colin Wing
Date taken: 05/03/21 14:36

Click a photo to enlarge.

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