Sydenham Wells Park in SE London covers 8 hectares and is a beautiful garden on a sloping hillside. Like many of the green spaces in this area it has a history!
History of the Park
‘…Sydenham Wells Park is near the former site of mineral springs that were discovered in the C17th, becoming a popular spa whose numerous visitors included King George III. The spa’s success led to the building of larger houses, and wealthy people began to settle in the area. The opening of Crystal Park encouraged further influx. Sydenham Wells Park opened as a public park in 1901 following a campaign to save the land from being built over by housing development. The park was laid out with broad paths, ornamental plantations and a miniature watercourse designed in imitation of the River Rhone as well as a wide variety of sports facilities…’.London Gardens Online, April 2012
Sydenham Wells Park today
The park today retains ornamental trees and shrubs; the water feature and rill planted with Juniper and other shrubs; wooden shelter and kiosk beside the bowling green; a 1960s paddling pool system; serpentine paths; rhododendron, hornbeam, bedding displays… the rill that runs through an area of lawn planted with willow … some pedunculate oak that may be relics of the Great North Wood….London Gardens Online (LGO), April 2012
Trees and shrubs
This grand tree and curving paths are near the park entrance on Longton Avenue. The path encircles the park and continues from here past the children’s play area.
Water feature and rill
LGO talks of a ‘water feature’ but I am not sure what is meant by this. There is a large pond, and a dry rill leading from that. There is also a sculptured fountain in the sensory garden, but this was also dry when I visited. The sensory garden is a nice idea but I found it unimpressive – perhaps it had been overwhelmed by all the hot weather.
The park is well-equipped for exercise for everyone from small children to adults. Every time I visited people were enjoying the facilities, apart from the bowling green.
Children’s play area
There is a special play area for children under 5 years old which looks very nice. When I visited on a sunny day it was filled with sealing youngsters and indulgent parents!
Flowers in the park
This park is about wide open spaces, exercise facilities, and trees, rather than flower beds. However there were several colourful areas.
‘…In 1995 the gardens of 2 Victorian houses were added to the park, creating a ‘wild’ area on the western edge with bark-chip footpaths…’.LGO
The park looks very landscaped and sculpted and so the wild area on one side is a surprise, and a real pleasure. On a hot day it is cool and secluded and you can forget that you are actually in a major capital city.
Sydenham Wells Park in SE London is a glorious open park, with wonderful trees, which richly repays walking at any time of the year. It is close to Mayow Park and Baxter’s Fields and also on the Green Chain Walk through SE London.