Park history

Clissold Park: A Short History

In the 1880s the grounds of Clissold House and the adjacent Newington Common were threatened with development, and two prominent campaigners, Joseph Beck of The City of London and John Runtz of The Metropolitan Board of Works (MBW) persuaded the Board of MBW to buy the land and create a public park.

On 24 July 1889, Clissold Park was opened by the newly formed London County Council (LCC). The two ponds in the park are named the Beckmere and the Runtzmere in honour of the two principal founders.

Clissold Mansion, a Grade II listed building, dates back to the 1790’s when it was built for Jonathan Hoare, a local Quaker. In 1811 the house passed into the ownership of the Crawshay family, one of whose daughters was courted by the Reverend Augustus Clissold, who on acquiring ownership of the estate after marriage, changed the name of the estate to Clissold Place.

The short stretch of water in front of Clissold House was once part of the New River, which ran from twenty miles outside of London to Roseberry Avenue, supplying drinking water to the capital. Other remnants of the New River can be seen in Canonbury.

Like many other great London parks it was managed and maintained by the LCC until the abolition of the GLC in 1986, when it passed into the hands of Hackney Council. The 54 acre park has a very wide range of tree species, and for many years the larger pond was used as a boating lake.

Clissold Park through the centuries

Over 100 images of Clissold Park and House from its origins as a private estate in the eighteenth century to the public park it became and 1889 and the much loved public space it is now.
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Major restoration of the park and house

2012 saw the completion of a major restoration and development project funded by Hackney Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

This included:

  • the restoration of Clissold Mansion and the Bowling Pavilion bringing both back into public use
  • reinstating a large section of the New River which had been filled in during the late 20th century
  • restoring various paths and vistas that had been lost including the original “slope” in front of the house
  • replacing and restoring fencing, gates and other ornamental features.

Visit our Park stories page for more about the remarkable history of Clissold Park