I arrived in Vauxhall earlier than expected. Usually it is a very busy part of South London, but today it was uncharacteristically quiet. It was a ‘Bank Holiday Monday’ and most people were probably still enjoying their beds.
But in the world of freelance filming, bank holidays don’t really exist – so here I was, early for work in a new part of town.
Green space in London
I had noticed on the map that there was a small park nearby and I decided to pay it a quick visit. London has many large and famous parks, such as Hyde Park or Green Park.
But in this built-up corner of South London, I wasn’t expecting this little green space to be particularly impressive. So it really was a wonderful surprise wandering into Vauxhall Park.
I had imagined it would be merely functional; an easy-to-manage open space for joggers and dog walkers, with perhaps a few urban trees.
Instead, as I entered the gates onto a wide path, I was greeted by landscaped gardens and a flurry of cherry blossom littering park benches like confetti.
Variety of uses and features
Shrubs and well-established evergreen and deciduous trees have been planted in harmony – beautifully placed to provide colour and shape throughout the changing seasons.
It is clear that this little park has been designed with everyone’s needs in mind, with plenty of space for joggers and dog walkers; as well as quiet dog-free zones filled with floral borders.
Vauxhall park in London is rich in history. A Victorian park which was originally built and designed with families in mind.
It is an elegant public park with a large playground, tennis and basketball courts, plus a café. It is set among some impressive landscaping.
The Park is on land that was once occupied by large houses including one that was occupied by Henry Fawcett, an eminent academic, statesman and economist, and his wife Millicent, who was one of the leaders of the Suffragist Movement.
After Henry Fawcett’s death, when the area was threatened with development, Millicent Fawcett campaigned with the Kyrle Society, Octavia Hill (an influential social reformer and a co-founder of the National Trust) along with local residents, including Mark Beaufoy to fulfil Henry’s wish that a park was created here for local people.
Fanny Rollo Wilkinson, who was one of the first female British landscape architects, was commissioned to lay out the site. Vauxhall Park was first opened by HRH The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, on 7th July 1890.
The park still holds true to its original ideals and features. more recent additions include a café, multi-use games court and an orchard.
For families with children there is an adventure playground and even a pretty model village surrounded by colourful tulips and primroses.
The Lavender Garden was first created in 2003 to mark the centenary of the Vauxhall Motor Company whose original factory was nearby.
This is perhaps the most surprising aspect of the park, the small but perfectly-formed lavender garden! Even though it was too early in the year for any flowers when I visited, the familiar scent of the lavender leaves filled the air.
Local residents tend to this lavender garden and there is a ‘Community Harvest’ at the end of each summer.
The ‘Friends of Vauxhall Park’ post updates on the notice board and they actively assist in gardening and the general upkeep of the flower beds.
Vauxhall Park really is a wonderful hidden gem that is clearly valued by the local community. Beneath the canopy of trees is a hidden oasis – perfect for escaping the concrete jungle and relieving the stresses of urban life.