The Garden Guide

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

Layout and facilities in Vauxhall Park

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The land of the present Park was purchased in May 1889 (As Vauxhall is not included in Lieut.-Col. Sexby's exhaustive book, the following details are not very accessible. It was bought from Mr. Cobeldick for �43,500. Made up by Lambeth Vestry.......�11,746 17 6 " Charity Commissioners . . . 12,500 0 0 " London County Council. . . 11,746 17 6 " Donations and other sources . 7,506 5 0 �43,500 0 0 The fencing and laying out was done by the Kyrle Society. The Park was opened by the present King and Queen, July 7, 1890.). Then it was covered by houses standing in their own grounds. The largest of these was Carroun or Caroone House, which had been built by Sir Noel de Caron, who was Ambassador of the Netherlands for thirty-three years, during the reigns of Elizabeth and James I.-the others, a row of eight with gardens, were known as "The Lawn." In front of them was a long pond, said to have been fed by the Effra River. This stream, which rose in Norwood and flowed into the Thames at Vauxhall, has, like most of the other streams of London, become a sewer, and the pond is no more. In one of these houses (51 South Lambeth Road) Mr. Henry Fawcett resided, and when the houses were pulled down to form the Park his was left, the intention being to make it into some memorial of him. It was found to be too much out of repair to retain, and had to be pulled down. With the sum which the sale of materials from the old house realised, it was proposed to erect a memorial drinking-fountain. This idea bore fruit, as Sir Henry Doulton sold one to the vestry for less than one-third of its value, and moreover gave a further memorial to the courageous blind Postmaster-General of a portrait statue by Tinworth, with appropriate allegorical figures. This fine group recording the connection of Henry Fawcett with the place is the most conspicuous feature of the Park. The trees are growing up, and an abundance of seats and dry walks made it an enjoyable if not beautiful garden. The swings and gymnasiums are numerous and large, but what gives most pleasure is the sand-garden for little children. For hours and hours these small mites are happily occupied digging and making clean mud pies, while their elders sit by and work. It is touching to see the miniature castles and carefully patted puddings at the close of a busy baby's day. In the summer, when the sand is too dry to bind, some of the infants bring small bottles, which they manage to get filled at the drinking-fountain, and water their little handfuls of sand. These children's sand-gardens, common in parks in the United States, are a delightful invention for the safe amusement of these small folk, and the delight caused by this one, which was only made in 1905, shows how greatly they are appreciated. Many of the parks and some of the commons now have their "sea-side" or "sand-pit," and probably not only do they give immense pleasure, but they act as a safety-valve for small mischievous urchins, who otherwise could not resist trespassing on flower-beds. The grass in this, as in all the parks, has to be enclosed at times, to let it recover, the tramp of many feet. The wattled hurdles which are often used in the London Parks for this purpose, have quite a rustic appearance. They are like those which appear in all the agricultural scenes depicted in fifteenth century MSS. It is much to be hoped that no modern invention in metal will be found to take their place.