Inventory Site Record

Guy Street Park

Guy Street Park (Southwark)

Brief Description

The land here was open fields until the C18th when it was purchased by the Trustees of Guy's Hospital for use as a burial ground for deceased patients. It continued as a burial ground until the 1850s Burial Acts led to its closure. For a time it was leased to a local builder but in the 1890s part was purchased by Bermondsey Vestry for a much-needed public recreation ground, opening as Nelson Recreation Ground in 1899. Although it was refurbished after WWII war damage it became run down. It was renamed and refurbished after local residents set up Friends of Guy Street Park in 2001 following community consultation. It re-opened in 2003 with improved lighting, seating, play areas, a community garden and a community artwork that also provided illumination.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Guy's Hospital Burial Ground; Nelson Recreation Ground
Site location:
Guy Street/Snowsfield
Type of site:
Public Gardens
Open to public?
Opening times:
Special conditions:
Playground, multi-use play area
Public transport:
Rail/Tube (Northern, Jubilee): London Bridge

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.

Full Site Description

Nelson Recreation Ground was laid out with funding from the London County Council and other bodies and opened 30 March 1899. It was damaged in WWII but refurbished after the war. By the late C20th it had become run-down, and its shelter was derelict and unsafe due to lack of lighting. In 2000 local tenants' groups lobbied Southwark Council for its improvement and community consultation was carried out in 2001. In the same year local residents set up Friends of Guy Street Park and redeveloped the park with support from LB Southwark and The Pool of London Partnership. Works included an improved path layout, lighting, playground and sports provision, and a community garden.

Local resident artist Mark Haywood proposed a community artwork, the Lightbox Project, with the added benefit of lighting up the boundary between the park and adjacent NCP car park. As a result 5 back-lit advertising lightboxes have been installed on two floors of the car park with the intention of displaying a changing series of different works made by artists working with different target groups from the local community. In conjunction with this 3 London plane trees nearby are also lit up with a changing colour scheme to reflect the seasons.

The park was formally re-opened on 26 April 2003 at an event with community planting in the garden, community football, games and other events, and the lightboxes illuminated.

Sources consulted:

Friends of Guy Street Park website; Ron Woollacott, 'Southwark's Burying Places, Past and Present', Magdala Terrace Nunhead Local History publication, 2001

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
LB Southwark
Site management:
Parks; Friends of Guy Street Park
C18th; 1899; 2002/3
Listed structures:
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:
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Yes - Archaeological Priority Area
Other LA designation:

Guy Street Park

Photo: Colin Wing

Click photo to enlarge.

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