Inventory Site Record

Sunray Gardens

Sunray Gardens (Southwark)

Brief Description

Sunray Gardens is a remnant of the landscaped grounds of Casina, a late C18th house on The Dulwich Estate. The grounds were designed by Humphry Repton, including a large lake that survives as the sole remnant from the earlier landscape. By 1920 Casina was empty and the Estate released the land to Camberwell Borough Council for much needed social housing. A clause in the plans for the new estate enabled an area of open space to be preserved for recreational purposes and the area around the lake was chosen and laid out, initially called Casino Open Space, renamed Sunray Gardens in 1923.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Casina
Site location:
Casino Avenue/Red Post Road/Elmwood Road
Postcode:
SE24
Type of site:
Public Park
Borough:
Southwark
Open to public?
Yes
Opening times:
7.30am - sunset
Special conditions:
Facilities:
Playground, multi-use games area
Events:
Public transport:
Rail: North Dulwich then bus. Bus: 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.southwark.gov.uk/parks

Full Site Description

The location of these public gardens by Casino Avenue is a reminder of their history. They are the remains of the once extensive landscape of Casina, the house built by John Nash in 1796 for Warren Hastings' lawyer Richard Shawe, who was later buried in the Old Burial Ground in Dulwich Village (q.v.). The estate was leased to Shawe and was part of the endowment of Alleyn's College of God's Gift, now The Dulwich Estate. The landscape of Casina was designed by Humphry Repton, but most of it lies under the Sunray Estate on the south slopes of Herne Hill, which is one of the most celebrated estates of the 'Homes for Heroes' campaign following WWI. Other residents of the Casina estate included Joseph Buonaparte, Napoleon's brother, and from 1875 it was the home of William Stone, MP for Portsmouth, a garden enthusiast who allowed the Surrey Horticultural Society Flower Show to take place in the grounds.

By 1920 Casina was empty and The Dulwich Estate released the land to Camberwell Borough Council for much needed social housing. A clause in the plans for the new estate enabled an area of open space to be preserved for recreational purposes and the area around the lake was chosen and laid out, initially called Casino Open Space, renamed Sunray Gardens in 1923. The fields were let out for grazing and the lake was at first let out before becoming a public park. Sunray Gardens is now the only surviving remnant of the Repton landscape. The house, demolished in 1906, had been close to the frontage of the main road, now Herne Hill/Denmark Hill, with gardens in its immediate vicinity and the land sloping south-eastwards towards a lake at the bottom of the hill, which was planted with a variety of trees and shrubs. Repton had intended to extend the lake to neighbouring properties but this was never carried out. It was originally used for fishing and animals grazed in the meadows.

Some changes were made to Repton's lake when it was transformed into the public park. These included being made more shallow and given shelving banks after a small girl fell in, luckily rescued by a local postman; at one end it was infilled for the creation of a playground. The park today has mature trees and grass, but the dominant feature is the lake that occupies a quarter of the site. The Friends of Sunray Gardens was formed in 1997 to preserve the park and Sunray Gardens was refurbished in 2001.

Sources consulted:

Carter; Summerson. Andrew Duncan, 'Walking Village London', New Holland, 1997; John Archer, Bob Britton, Robert Burley, Tony Hare, Ian Yarham, 'Nature Conservation in Southwark' Ecology Handbook 12, London Ecology Unit, 1989

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ326747
Size in hectares:
1.581
Site ownership:
LB Southwark
Site management:
Parks; Friends of Sunray Gardens
Date(s):
1796; 1923
Designer(s):
Humphry Repton
Listed structures:
None
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

No
Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

No
Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:

No

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:
No
In Conservation Area:
No
Tree Preservation Order:
Not known
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Borough Importance II
Green Belt:
No
Metropolitan Open Land:
No
Special Policy Area:
No
Other LA designation:
Local Park, Tier Two

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