Hornfair Park in Charlton

Hornfair Park in Charlton was originally part of Charlton Manor. The LCC bought land from the Lords of the Manor, the Maryon-Wilson family, for housing in 1926. In the end the Parks Department used the land to create Charlton Playing Fields in 1936. Charlton Lido opened three years later in 1939. The park was renamed Hornfair Park in 1948 in memory of the fair.  

A brief history

In 1268 Henry III granted a three-day fair to Bermondsey Abbey around Trinity Sunday, and the Abbey owned Charlton Manor at that time. Could this have been the origin of Horn Fair? In the 17th century the date was moved to 18 October, St Luke’s Day.

There is also another, more racy story uncorroborated which is that one of the kings of England when residing at Eltham Palace enjoyed an intimate encounter with a miller’s wife while out hunting. The miller interrupted the encounter and to pacify him the king ceded land from the hamlet to Cuckold’s Point to him. Cuckold’s Point is the ‘horn’ of land opposite the Isle of Dogs.

The Home Secretary closed down the fair in 1872 because of the riotous, even criminal behaviour of fair goers including the cadets from Woowich.

The sports facilities

The sporting and exercise facilities in Hornfair Park are generous.

Paddling pool in Hornfair Park in Charlton
Children’s paddling pool
Hornfair Park in Charlton
Charlton Lido, gym and cafe

The gardens in Hornfair Park in Charlton

The garden is a sad sight: the few roses which are flowering are pretty but they are sparse and neglected. The lavender surrounding the circular sunken garden is pretty in the height of summer. Of course everything is distressed this summer, and there is no fountain.

HOrnfair Park formal garden
Formal garden in Hornfair Park
Hornfair Park
An apple tree in one corner of the formal garden

The path leading from the garden to the playing fields is also a sad sight, and poorly planted. Surely this area would be suited to really tough, drought-resistant plants or grasses? Or plant of those perennials or wildflowers which have survived this difficult year. Is it time to rethink the planting schemes in these formal gardens?

There is a small area of wildness in the far north east corner of the park where yarrow seems to be thriving in the grass and is very attractive.

The Avenue

Along one side of the park is an avenue of mature trees – poplars and oaks.

Hornfair Park
Avenue in Hornfair Park

Old Blue Cross Pet Cemetery

The Old Blue Cross Pet Cemetery is alongside the park and accessed from Shooters Hill Road. It is now closed to burials and is a memorial to the close relationship people enjoy with their beloved pets. There are over 200 gravestones here but the garden has been replace with paving to simplify maintenance.

Hornfair Park in Charlton is mainly a well-equipped recreation ground with the potential to also have interesting garden and wildflower areas.

One comment

  1. Hi Candy, thank you for the wonderful write-up and photos of the hidden treasure that is Hornfair Park. I am one of the local Councillors and we are currently in the process of putting to together a funding application for the park. Would it be possible to use some of your lovely photos in our bid? Cllr Lakshan Saldin (Charlton Hornfair)

I'd love to hear from you!

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