The Garden Guide

Book: London Parks and Gardens, 1907
Chapter: Chapter 7 Municipal Parks in South London

History of Battersea Park

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Battersea, or "Patricesy," as it is written in Domesday, was a manor belonging to the Abbey of Westminster until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The name is most probably derived from the fact that it was lands of St. Peter's Abbey "by the water." Later on it came into the St. John family, and Henry St. John, Lord Bolingbroke, was born and died in Battersea. After his death it was purchased by Earl Spencer, in whose family it remains. Part of the fields were Lammas Lands, for which the parish was duly compensated. The gloomy wildness of the fields gave rise to superstitions, and a haunted house, from which groans proceeded and mysterious lights were seen at night, at one time scared the neighbourhood, and enticed the adventurous. The only historical incident, connected with the fields, is the duel fought there in 1829 between the Duke of Wellington and the Marquess of Winchelsea; the latter having personally attacked the Duke during the debates on the Catholic Emancipation Bill. The Duke aimed his shot through his adversary's hat, who then fired in the air, and the affair of honour was thus settled. Battersea Fields were approached, in those days, by the old wooden Battersea Bridge which had superseded the ferry; the only means of communication till 1772. The present bridges at either corner of the Park have both been built since the Park was formed.