Sydenham Wells Park in SE London

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

Sydenham Wells Park today (Google maps)
Sydenham Wells Park in SE London
Information board at the park

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 and other ornamental trees and shrubs… 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.

Sydenham Wells Park in SE London near Longton Avenue
Park near Longton Avenue
Conifers and stately trees in the SW corner of Sydenham Wells Park in SE London
Conifers and stately trees in the SW corner of the park
Pin oak tree in Sydenham Wells Park in SE London
Old pin oak tree
Alder tree and nuts in Sydenham Wells Park in SE London
Alder tree and nuts

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.

Pond in Sydenham Wells Park in SE London
Pond in the park
Dry rill in Sydenham Wells Park
Dry rill
Sensory garden and sculpted fountain

Sports facilities

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.


Wild area

‘…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.

Further information:

History of Sydenham and more here; Adam’s Rill in Sydenham Wells Park; the Wells in the Park; Improving the Park

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