You’re probably all aware that Battersea Park is this year’s location for the great pants extravaganza AKA Pants in the Park, but did you know that this venerable green space is over 154 years old? We didn’t either (thank you Wikipedia) and in doing a bit of research into the area we managed to find a number of other fascinating facts about how this 200 acre park began.
In the early half of the 1800s, Battersea Park was known as Battersea fields and was a proper hot spot for duelling. The Duke of Wellington (who was PM at the time) took to Battersea fields in 1929 to sort out a bit of bother with a chap called the Earl of Winchilsea, who had openly dissed him. The Duke, having spilt enough blood in the Napoleonic wars to last a lifetime, aimed wide and the Earl aimed high, saving both their honour and their lives.
In 1846 Parliament passed an act to form a Royal Park in the area of Battersea fields and 320 acres was bought for the princely sum of £200,000, which is about £4.7 million in today’s money. Coincidently, £4.7 million will now buy you this nice little four bedroom number on the river next to Battersea Park (please let us know if you are interested in this property, our Major Donor Manager will be in contact very, very quickly).
|Yours for a snip under £5 million. Bargain.|
In the 1800s, architects and planners were the equivalent of modern day pop stars. Rather than hearing about the latest exploits of No Direction or Harry Styles (yawn) the talk of the town would have been about Joseph Paxton and John Nash’s latest work. With this in mind, it’s no surprise it took an age (over 10 years) to work out not just the look of the park but who was actually going to design it (this was before X-Factor, so such choices weren’t easy). Eventually James Pennethorne and John Gibson scribbled a few ideas on the back of a beer mat and Battersea Park began to take shape.
The north bank of the Thames was very densely populated, so having a 200 acre park on your back doorstep seemed like a great idea to everyone who lived there. There was one small problem though: the Thames. In the 1800s there really weren’t many bridges linking the crowded North to the villages of South London, so Londoner’s would have had to trudge all the way down to Battersea bridge, schlep up to Regent bridge (now Vauxhall bridge) or risk a ferry over the
open sewer Thames. Thankfully the town planners of
the day had foreseen this problem and had started work on building Chelsea
bridge as soon as Battersea Park was planned, and the two opened to the public
Battersea Park was an instant success when it opened, and although it’s been through a number of changes it’s still as popular as ever in 2012. Battersea Park now boasts a children’s zoo, a boating lake and a host of fantastic sporting facilities. The 5k route for Pants in the Park will take in many sites of this fascinating and beautiful park. We’ll see you there on Saturday!