Historical timeline of Kennington Park
Kennington Park has a long and interesting history, see below for selected snippets since its first mention in 1600.
The Friends of Kennington Park celebrate their 20th anniversary. Sunday morning Junior Park run starts. Second Kennington Park Festival on 10 July. The park is a Green Flag winner, first awarded in 2011, and has accreditation as a Green Heritage site. In July the dog area on the NLE site re-opens after six years. A very hot, dry summer.
Covid lockdown from 5 January, playground open, keep fit equipment closed. Paths flooded by heavy rainfall. Work on surveying the skateboard bowl. Park retained Green Flag and London in Bloom Awards. Kennington Park Festival in late August. September the Northern Line Extension to Battersea opens. October Memorial service for 81st anniversary of World War Two shelter incident. History Hut celebrating the rich history of the park opened by Florence Eshalomi MP.
South field still recovering from event damage in autumn 2019. The Coronavirus lockdowns result in a huge increase in park usage. FOKP become a Charity. New Toy train in the children's playground.
Lambeth Council consultation about events in parks. Construction of the headhouse building in the north of the park for the Northern Line Extension starts. Re-furbished Cafe re-opens. Toad trail statue. FOKP a signatory of the newly launched London National Park City. Awarded the Green Flag (for the 9th time) and London in Bloom Gold for the Flower Garden and Silver Gilt for the park. 2700 spring bulbs planted. Mural on park extension by Hanworth House.
On Tuesday 10 April 2018 the HLF sponsored Kennington Chartist Project, supported by the Friends of Kennington Park, commemorated the 170th anniversary of the Chartists monster rally on Kennington Common. There was a programme of events, walks, talks, art; research with a well attended event on Saturday 7 July. Awarded a Green Flag again; London in Bloom silver gilt for the park and gold award for the Flower Garden. Scheduled to be appinted a Centenary Field by Fields in Trust and Lambeth Council.
Apple trees planted on the Green Link. War memorial awarded Grade 2 listing. New raised lavender bed on the Green Link. Monthly volunteer gardening sessions from March. Commemorative stone unveiled for Kennington Victoria Cross winner Corporal George Jarratt, Royal Fusiliers, killed in action 3 May 1917. New flower bed outside the Bee Urban garden. Green Flag awarded again and a Silver Gilt award for both the park and the flower garden, awarded by London in Bloom. Twenty new trees planted.
Start of the Northern Line Extension work, the northern end of the park fenced off and the dog walking area moved. The first year of the restored Flower Garden, monthly volunteer gardening sessions and events. New container for the football teams installed on the park extension, funded by Sport England. Green Flag awarded for fifth year.
The midnight path is restored, widened and straightened to make safer for residents cutting through the park. The restored flower garden is re-opened, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. A sundial is is designed and created for the new flower garden by a student from the local City & Guild college of Art.
Kennington Park receives a grant of £374,600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore the flower garden, with additional funding from Lambeth Council and volunteer hours, the total investment is £500,000. Re-dedication of the park war memorial, 90 years after it was unveiled.
Table tennis arrives in the park when two tables are installed thanks to funding from Sport England.
Widespread consultation identifies priorities for the development of a Ten Year Masterplan A first stage bid to Heritage Lottery Fund for renovation of the Flower Garden is successful Friends group celebrate its 10th anniversary Kennington Park retains its Green Flag status.
Kennington Park is awarded the Green Flag. This is a national award that recognises the best green spaces in the country.
Over 60 people gather to remember the 70th anniversary of the air raid shelter tragedy.
Money raised by the Friends pays for a Nature Trail aimed at helping local youngsters learn more about biodiversity. It opens with a series of workshops with local schools.
After the Friends raise £240,000, the new playground opens with more challenging equipment and a wildlife area. Kennington United Cricket Club receives accreditation and becomes an official cricket club. Commemoration of the 160th anniversary of the Chartist Rally on Kennington Common.
The park hosts a rally and service to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery. The Rastafarian Temple on St Agnes Place is closed down following claims of drug dealing. The site is demolished shortly after
The Friends begin raising funds for a new playground. The play equipment from the old playground on Camberwell New Road is moved to the site of the redundant tennis courts. A new ball court area is laid out on the old playground site. The Astroturf pitch and tennis courts are renovated and resurfaced. New floodlights and changing facilities are installed. A Green Link between the park and the extension is planted and opened. The Friends raise money for and install a Fitness Trail. The Friends group raise the funds for a memorial to the victims of the bombing of the air raid shelter. Over 100 people attend the unveiling.
Squatters in St Agnes Place are evicted and the houses demolished.
The 150th anniversary of the park opening in 1854 is celebrated with a day of activities including, sports competitions, dog show, music and dancing.
Tree planting charity Trees for London (later Trees for Cities) move into Prince Consort Lodge.
‘Art in the Park’ – a day of artwork, performance and installations in the park. Local people hold a public meeting amid concerns about the decline of the park’s fabric and an increase in crime. The Friends of Kennington Park are founded as a result. Kennington United Cricket Club, an initiative to promote cricket among young people in inner city areas, play a friendly match on the extension. The café re-opens after many years of closure.
The park hosts Lambeth Council's last public firework display in Kennington.
Local people commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Chartist rally banners, music, stocks. Lambeth has an exhibition on the Chartists at the Minet and Durning Libraries.
Lido demolished and the area covered by tennis/netball courts.
Anti Poll Tax Federation march starts in the park.
Lido closes. Despite a campaign by local people to get it reopened, Lambeth council claim the number of people using the pool doesn’t justify the expense of restoring it.
CND Festival in the park featuring the Mighty Lemon Drops.
Kennington Park hosts Gay Pride for the first time. Pride 86 featured the Communards and the Beverley Sisters.
For the first time since its enclosure, the park is used for a political gathering by Lambeth Fight Back Campaign.
Public fire work displays begin. People line up along the Midnight Path to watch the pyrotechnics. Opening of the Skateboard bowl designed by Lorne Edwards.
Bob Marley, in London to record landmark album Exodus visits the Rastafarian temple on St Agnes Place and plays football in Kennington Park.
Squatters move into the houses on St Agnes Place, preventing their demolition. Student protest held in the park.
The Charlie Chaplin Adventure Playground opens.
Responsibility for parks is transferred from Greater London Council to local boroughs. Lambeth Library Services held outdoor story telling sessions in the park.
Following a Public Enquiry into plans to demolish houses on St Agnes Place, a Compulsory Purchase Order is granted. The plan is to unite the park and the extension into one.
A scene from the spy film The Ipcress File starring Michael Caine was shot in the park. It shows the park bandstand (now the concrete area in front of Prince Consort Lodge) where the Irish Guards are playing a concert, rows of chairs are laid out in front of the raised stage. The bandstand burnt down several years later.
Depot for park’s maintenance equipment and staff built behind the café. The Aldermaston CND March assembled at Kennington Park and followed the Chartist route to Westminster.
Nearly 10 acres of land are acquired for what will become the One o’ Clock Club and the park extension.
Construction begins on new children’s playroom, toilets and playground
Adventure Playground opens.
The centenary of the Act that created Kennington Park is marked with a cricket match featuring players wearing Victorian costume.
An old photograph shows a decorated Christmas tree outside Prince Consort Lodge.
18 acres of land to the east is earmarked for an extension to the park.
A 24ft high Norwegian Spruce is put up and illuminated for Christmas near Prince Consort Lodge. The tradition continues for several years.
Members of the ILP (Independent Labour Party) gather in the park to commemorate the centenary of the 1848 Chartist rally
Air raid shelter trenches filled in.
Nearby Horns Tavern was badly damaged by a wartime bomb on 16 August 1944. It was later demolished and an office block built on the site in 1965..
A trench -style air raid shelter on the south field takes a direct hit on October 15th. Over 100 people are killed making it Lambeth’s worst World War II incident. As part of the Grow for Victory scheme, there are allotments in the park.
Dig for Victory campaign turns the park’s north field into allotments
Park Keeper’s Lodge built at corner of Kennington Park Place and St Agnes Place. A trench air raid shelter is dug out in the park’s south field.
Kennington Park Lido, asphalt playing area and Old English Flower Garden open. The garden was in the style of gardens designed by Lt Col J J Sexby, Head of LCC Parks, with a pergola and symmetrical scheme of roses, borders and bedding.
Oak shelter with seats erected close to the Slade Fountain.
The War Memorial at the Kennington Park Place gate is unveiled.
Park extended by 2 hectares due to the demolition of Kennington Terrace. This was later the site of the formal flower garden.
An average of 2,600 people attend the performances on the bandstand.
An outdoor gymnasium for use only by children opens on the site of the current Fitness Trail.
A timber bandstand opens on the current site of the basket ball court. After a long campaign by local people, the council agrees to keep open the path running from Kennington Park Road to St Agnes Place.
A small group of people from the Browning Settlement in Walworth visited the park to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1848 Chartist rally.
The park café opens. Designed by the council’s architect’s department, it is one of the earliest refreshment houses still in use.
A sundial is installed in the sunken flower beds close to Prince Consort Lodge.
A census of people entering London County Council’s parks on Whit Monday finds 40,001 visited Kennington Park, making it the second most intensively used of all LCC parks.
Men’s toilet block opens.
Women’s toilets open.
Refreshment house demolished. Kennington Park’s management transferred to London County Council.
Half a hectare of land added to the north-east corner of the park.
London Parks and Works Act transfers maintenance of parks to the Metropolitan Board of Works. Opposite the park the Horns Tavern is built with an assembly room that holds 1000 people.
A fountain is erected in the flower beds between what is now the children’s playground and the basket ball court. On the top is a sculpture called The Pilgrimage of Life by George Tinworth, resident sculptor at Doulton’s Lambeth factory. Damaged in WW2 and moved to a gate on Kennington Road. The sculptures on the top have disappeared.
Kennington Park becomes the first park to have its management put out to tender to private contractors.
An iron urinal with four compartments is installed at the St Agnes Place entrance but is removed to the current playground site in 1875.
Local resident Felix Slade commissions a drinking fountain for the park. It is placed at the end of the path leading from Camberwell New Road, where it still stands.
The first purpose built refreshment house opens. It is situated half way between the Slade fountain and the perimeter fence alongside Kennington Road The flower beds alongside Kennington Park Road are laid out, making Kennington park one of the first to have masses of flowers accessible to the public without having to pay an entry fee, such as at Kew Gardens. Open air gymnasium opens on the site of today’s playground. Demand is so great that scuffles break out and a constable is appointed just to oversee the gym.
The park’s first refreshment outlet opens – the Lodge keeper’s wife is given permission to sell ginger beer, lemonade, soda water, biscuits, fruit and sweetmeats from a window at the rear of the Lodge.
John Gibson, whose work in creating the shrubberies, sub-tropical garden and flower beds in Battersea Park had been widely praised, is instructed to take charge of Kennington Park.
Kennington Park opens. It is the first public park in south London. There is no official opening ceremony, perhaps because of the recent declaration of war with Russia.
Model houses are moved from Hyde Park to Kennington Common and opened to the public. The houses are the only part of the park accessible by the public Cost of turning the Common into a park is estimated at £3,620. Local people and the Duchy of Cornwall pledge £1,000. The new toll house at Kennington was opened nearby.
The Act to ‘enclose and lay out Kennington Common…as Pleasure Grounds for the Recreation of the Public, is received by Royal Assent.’ Gates and railings appear around the Common.
The Great Exhibition opens in Hyde Park. One of the most popular exhibits are the model houses built at the command and expense of Prince Albert in his capacity as President of the Society for Improving the Condition of the Labouring Classes. By the standards of the day, the building offered spacious and efficient accommodation at low cost. Notices placed in the press advertising the intended Act of Parliament to permit the improvement of the Common and the extinction of the common rights.
13 March Chartist rally. 10 April huge Chartist rally on the Common prior to a march on Parliament. They were calling for major electoral reforms:- votes for all men, equal electoral districts, abolition of the property requirement for MPs, pay for MPs, annual General Elections and secret ballots. The government prevents the march and deploys thousands of soldiers and special constables under the command of the Duke of Wellington. By 1928 all but one of the demands had been implemented.
Chartist meeting in August, press reports that up to 400 people wounded
Easter Monday. Trade Unionists celebrate the return of the Tolpuddle Martyrs. Chartist meetings held on the Common in May and August.
A government committee proposes that ‘if (by agreement with the Commoners) a handsome public walk could be properly laid out and planted round the edge of the Common, it would much conduce to the health and comfort of the neighbouring population, and very little diminish the value of the herbage.’ Nothing was done.
First Reform Act. Kennington Common becomes the site for election hustings.
Some posts and rails put up around Kennington Common
St Mark’s church was built on the old gallows corner of Kennington Common, one of four ‘Waterloo’ churches built in south London following the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. Each was named after one of the four gospel writers: St Mark’s, Kennington; St John’s, Waterloo; St Luke’s, Norwood and St Matthew’s, Brixton. St Mark's cost £16,093 4s 3d, and was opened by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The last execution at the Kennington Common gallows, Mr Badger a fraudster
A rally was held on Kennington Common and an effigy of the Duke of Brunswick was burned. Troops prevented the planting of a Tree of Liberty on the Common.
Kennington Common appears on Rocque’s map of London. It shows pasture land surrounded by undeveloped land and small village settlements separated by agricultural land. Vauxhall Creek, part of the River Effra, runs along the south west boundary from Brixton Road. On 30 July nine members of the Jacobites and Manchester Regiment were executed at the Kennington Common gallows.
John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, addressed a crowd of thousands on the Common.
London Cricket Club versus Sevenoaks. The first match to be played inside an enclosed ground. Methodists John Wesley and George Whitefield preach to thousands on Kennington Common.
London Cricket Club versus Dartford. The first recorded cricket match on the Common. London Cricket Club was one of the best cricket clubs and played most of its matches on Kennington Common.
The first mention of Kennington Common in official records.