Inventory Site Record

Newington Gardens

Newington Gardens (Southwark)

Brief Description

Newington Gardens is on the site of Horsemonger Lane Gaol and the Surrey County Sessions House, where executions took place until the mid C19th. After the gaol closed in 1878, the building was demolished and the site was used as a playground, although the external walls remained. A portion of the land was maintained as a public playground by Newington Vestry, laid out by the MPGA and opened by Mrs Gladstone on 5 May 1884. In 1890 the LCC took over the Sessions House and the associated property, and enlarged the recreation ground between 1892 and 1919 providing a children's gymnasium, garden with bandstand, toilets and seating. The park has been restored in recent years, and has shrubberies and a number of mature trees.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Gaol Park, Newington Recreation Ground
Site location:
Harper Road/Bath Terrace
Type of site:
Public Park
Open to public?
Opening times:
Special conditions:
playground, tennis courts, football
Public transport:
Tube: Borough (Northern), Elephant & Castle (Northern, Bakerloo). Bus: 35, 40, 343.

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/04/2002
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Full Site Description

The Surrey County Sessions House was designed by George Gwilt the Elder, following an Act of 1791, at which time Horsemonger Lane Gaol was the largest in Surrey. The connection between the Sessions House and the County of Surrey was broken in 1888 with the passing of the Local Government Act. Public executions took place here and Dickens visited on 13 November 1849 and subsequently campaigned against public hanging. The Gaol closed in 1878 and the ground was allowed to be used as playground after the building was demolished although external walls and gatehouse remained, as a result of which it was known locally as Gaol Park. The County of London Sessions Court replaced the Surrey County Sessions House in 1914-21 and was extended in 1954-58 for the LCC.

Sources consulted:

'The London County Council and what it does for London: London Parks and Open Spaces' (Hodder & Stoughton, 1924); Southwark Listed Buildings data

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
LB Southwark
Site management:
1884; 1892-1919
Listed structures:
LBII: County of London Sessions Court
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 Zone
Other LA designation:
Local Park, Tier Two. Strategic Views Backdrop Consultation Zone (part)

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