The Garden Guide

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

Walled Garden in Brockwell Park

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This delightful walled garden was the old kitchen-garden. Luckily, the fashion for the gardens of a past generation was growing at the time the Park was purchased, and the London County Council must be congratulated on the good taste displayed in dealing with it. The history of the acquisition of the ground is soon told. The desire for a park in this neighbourhood led those interested to try and arrange to buy Raleigh House in the Brixton Road, with some 10 acres of land, for about �40,000. Having got an Act of Parliament to allow this, Brockwell Park came into the market with a readymade park of 78 acres. The Act of 1888 was repealed, and eventually a sum of nearly �120,000 was spent on the purchase of Brockwell, which was opened to the public in 1892. Near the entrance gates, close to Herne Hill Railway Station, a drinking-fountain, with a graceful figure of "Perseverance" and portrait bust, has been erected to Mr. Thomas Lynn Bristowe, M.P. for Norwood, who was chiefly instrumental in obtaining the Park, and whose death occurred with tragic suddenness at the opening ceremony. It is quite a steep hill up to the house, which is of no great antiquity or beauty, having been built at the beginning of last century, when the older manor-house was pulled down, by Mr. Blades, the ancestor of the last owner. The view on all sides is extensive, and the timber is fine. There are good old oaks, as well as elms and limes; and it is satisfactory to see that, in the recent planting, limes have been given a place, and not only the overdone plane. As a contrast to the delightful formal garden, some pretty wild grouping has been carried out beside the artificial water. This series of ponds are an addition to the Park as originally purchased. It now measures 84 acres, and the extra piece contained water, which has been enlarged into a big bathing-pool and a so-called "Japanese garden." These ponds are well arranged; and although there are various kinds of ducks and geese and black swans, and concrete edges and wire netting are inevitable, they are not so aggressive as in many parks. In places tall plants have been put in behind the railings and allowed to hang over, to break the undue stiffness. In the late autumn purple Michaelmas daisies nearly touched the water, and the red berries of the Pyracantha overhung the ducks without apparent disagreement. The opening of Brockwell as a public Park has had the effect of banishing most of the rooks. There was a large rookery, but year by year the nests decrease. In 1896 there were thirty-five nests, the next year twenty, while in 1898 there were only eight or ten. Thus every season they are getting fewer, but still, in the spring of 1907, one pair of rooks were bold enough to build.