Mayow Park in Sydenham is another park which developed from an old country mansion, like the Forster Memorial Park, and Sayes Court, and yet another delightful green space in South East London. It is popular with local residents and has an extremely good cafe as well!
History of Mayow Park
‘…Mayow Park opened in June 1878 as Sydenham Recreation Ground and is Lewisham’s second oldest public open space after Blackheath…’.London Gardens Online
In May 1875 Rev William Taylor Jones wrote a plea for a ‘people’s recreation ground’ which was published in the Sydenham, Forest Hill and Penge Gazette. He regretted that “all available land in our neighbourhood is being taken for building purposes” and young people “meet and loiter about the roads, congregate at every street corner, becoming a moral pest and a nuisance”. Furthermore, the poor had nothing but “the streets, the music hall, the penny gaff or the public house for their evening’s resort”. A group of local people contributed money and the local council agreed to establish a recreation ground (a park would only have been ornamental) in perpetuity. Mayow Wynell Adams sold 17.5 acres of land for the recreation ground at below market value – do read this excellent blog for full information.
The Mayow family
A London wine merchant built The Old House in Sydenham in 1715. This stood in c.110 acres and was the largest property in Sydenham. The Mayow family bought The Old House in 1787 and subsequently increased their landholding in the area. Sadly the home was demolished in 1902 to develop new housing. The Park is named after Mayow Wynell Adams who is also remembered in the lych gate at nearby St Bartholomew’s Church.
Mayow Park today
…The design of the park is little altered since it was laid out although tennis courts have been added on the south side…’.London Gardens Online, date unknown
A large, grassy open field which is slightly sunken dominates the centre of the park. Trees and curving paths surround the field and there is a meadow on one side. There are various facilities for exercise and play around the park. The management locks the park is overnight, but there are gates into the park in all four corners for easy access during opening times. (Opening times on the Lewisham Council website are more accurate than LGO.) This park, like all the green spaces in Lewisham, is managed by Glendale Management whose yellow vans and workforce are highly visible and very active.
‘…Among the trees are pedunculate oak that pre-date the 1870s layout…. [These are] the finest collection of such trees in Lewisham aside from Beckenham Place Park (q.v.). They indicate old field boundaries of the former Perry Vale Farm. …’.London Gardens Online (date unknown)
More than anything else this park has memorable trees. Old oak trees are majestic but there are also horse chestnut, hornbeam, silver birch, beech, poplar and lime trees, and several conifers. A magnificent Cedar of Lebanon is similar to the one in Round Hill and there is a beautiful Dawn Redwood.
The drinking fountain
This drinking fountain commemorates the opening of the Park in 1878 and recognises the hard work of the Reverend Jones in the establishment of the park.
Children’s play area
The children’s play area is large and quite well-equipped. On all of my visits there have been lots of children and their parents in the area.
Two tennis courts, a ‘Trim Trail’ and outdoor gym gear provide ample opportunities for exercice. Two tennis courts are popular, there is a cricket pitch in the central grassy area which also provides a soccer pitch and can be used for schools’ sports days. There is also a Bowls Green which at this time is converted to an outdoor theatre, and looked more like a ‘Bowling Brown’! In addition, the tarmacked circular path allows for strolling, speedwalking and even a pesky bike or two! Dog walkers are numerous and after all this exertion you can refresh yourself in the Brown and Green Cafe!
Mayow Park and gardening
Mayow Park in Sydenham in South East London is another of the many green spaces in the Capital, prized and well used by Londoners. Do visit, and linger for a coffee, or just to enjoy the quiet, and afterwards you could pop along to Baxter’s Fields….