Bradshaw says ‘..The Kennington Road, leading to Kennington Common and the southern suburbs, is a spacious well-inhabited thoroughfare, with some neat squares and terraces adjoining.’ We have visited some of the squares and terraces and today, a dull day in London, I visited Kennington Common.
Kennington Park Road, now the A23, originated as a Roman road, Stane Street, running from London Bridge to Chichester. The very early history of Kennington Common is not clear, but formal records started in 1600s. It was a site of public executions until c.1800, and meeting ground, a fair ground, and a site for sport and games – particularly cricket.
Kennington Park was converted from a Common to a Park with the Inclosure Act of 1852 and laid out by 1852-54 by James Pennethorne for the Department of Woods and Forest and opened to the public in 1854. The Park, the first public park in south London, covered 7.5 hectares and included Prince Albert’s Cottages (model working class housing displayed at the Great Exhibition), sunken gardens, lawns, and flower beds.
The Garden Society leaflet says that this tree opposite the Air Raid Memorial is an Indian Horse Chestnut Tree.
The new, formal flower garden will be opened this coming weekend – I was too early!
Like many parks there is a memorial to those who died in the two Great Wars of the 20th century. There is also a sunken garden, a memorial to a dreadful night on 20 October 1940 when the air raid shelter was hit by a bomb. The air raid shelters were actually on the south field of the park, not under the sunken garden.
The Pilgrimage of Life Fountain was created by George Tinworth, the sculptor at Doulton’s Lambeth factory, in 1872. It was damaged during WWII and this is all that now remains. (Photographs and article here.) The Slade Fountain was commissioned by Felix Slade in 1861 to provide fresh drinking water for local children.
And just outside the park, opposite Magee Road, was the Kennington Turnpike.