Mountsfield Park in Lewisham is another surprise in my quest to visit all the parks and gardens in the Borough of Lewisham. Driving along the main roads gives one no idea of this wonderful park hidden behind the rows of Victorian housing. But step off the bus, and walk down a side road, and you are suddenly in a peaceful green space.
The History of Mountsfield Park
London Gardens Online gives a somewhat terse description of Mountsfield Park: ‘… Mountsfield House was built in 1845, as a wedding present by his father, for Henry Tibbats Stainton. It was bequeathed for a public park by his widow in 1903 and opened on 7 August 1905. At that time the property had c.2.5 hectares of parkland to the south of the house, and this became the core of Mountsfield Park… The park formerly included an open air theatre, an avenue from Brownshill Road, drinking fountain, and ponds, all of which have now disappeared…’.
Henry Tibbats Stainton was a significant entomologist who co-authored A Manual of British Butterflies and Moths. Unfortunately there are no photographs of his home, Mountsfield. The location of the house is shown on a map of 1877, below. Stainton’s tombs is in the graveyard of St Mary the Virgin in Lewisham.
Access to the Park
The map of 1877 clearly shows the entrance to Mountsfield from George Lane, and this is still an entrance to Mountsfield Park in Lewisham. There was another entrance from the area of Stainton Road. A lodge on Stainton Road was perhaps part of the establishment?
Today there also gates into the park from Ringstead Road, Brownhill Road, and Stainton Road. The gates into the park are locked at night.
Mountsfield Park today
Ideal Homes (an interesting site!) adds that ‘…Seven more acres were bought from the School Board for London and six from Trinity College. When Charlton Athletic gave up the football ground at the bottom of the hill that also was added to the park, which by 1923 had grown to 28 acres. The row of houses on the south side of George Lane was bombed during WWII and the land was bought from Trinity College. Finally in 1994 a major part of the Catford Boys School playing field was added…’.
Today Mountsfield Park in Lewisham covers 32 acres and it is the flagship park in the Borough of Lewisham.
There are trees all over the park, but they are particularly thick near the entrance from Ringstead Road where it feels like woodland. There are woodlands in Hilly Fields Park but it is a much smaller area. These wooded areas are beautiful spaces in the park in the autumn, and I saw a lot of squirrels enjoying themselves!
The Wild Garden
A small open space near the Ringstead Road gate develops and changes at its own pace. The wild garden shows how open green space can develop naturally, over time.
The Formal Garden
I don’t know if this was the formal garden in Mountsfield House, and in the autumn the area looks rather desolate. The brick columns seem incomplete and I wondered if they originally meant to support roses or other flowering climbers. And so far the box hedging has survived the box caterpillar, but there were certainly signs of damage.
The Community Garden
An orchard, compost heaps, fruit and vegetables are all in this very large community garden in the park. And of course there are benches for enjoying a little sit-down!
The Children’s Playground
I believe Mountsfield House stood on the top of the hill, looking down towards the Ravensbourne Valley. Today the children’s playground is on the same spot.
Amenities in the Park
There are plenty of opportunities for exercising in the park! Outdoor gear for adults, ball court, two tennis courts, children’s play area, and paved circuits for walking or running are spread through this park in Lewisham. There is a walking group in the park, and the open fields host team games.
Views in Mountsfield Park
This is an amazing open green space in South East London where I loved wandering and taking photographs!
The blogsite dedicated to Mountsfield Park presents much interesting information, including a professional report on the park. And Running Past is a reliable source, always, of well-researched information about Lewisham!
The size of Mountsfield Park in Lewisham is surprising! I thought I knew the area quite well, but I was wrong. This park is another wonderful green space in Lewisham. And so, during the week I returned a few times to enjoy the space and the last leaves on the trees.