Ruskin Park

Ruskin Park is a Green Flag Award winning park in the Denmark Hill area of London and located in between Denmark Hill and Loughborough Junction rail stations. The nearest tube station is Brixton which is roughly two miles away and is served by the Victoria line. The park’s Green Flag Award certifies that the park is clean, safe, and sustainably maintained. As well as being one of the largest green spaces for miles around the park also contains tennis and games courts, a paddling pool, children’s play area and an early twentieth century wooden band stand. It is landscaped to include a wide variety of trees and ponds as well as formal gardens. Its opening hours are from 7am each morning until about fifteen minutes before sunset when it usually shuts.

The history of the park began in the early part of the twentieth century when developers began to consider buying up the land in the area and building on it. A local resident campaigned to raise funds to purchase the 24 acres on which the park now stands, soliciting funds from the surrounding London boroughs and local residents. At the time when the land was first bought it was the site of a number of large seventeenth-century houses and their ample grounds. These were soon cleared away leaving only the portico of one of the houses which still stands in the park as a memorial to earlier times. After the area had been landscaped by noted park designer J.J. Sexby it was opened to the public in 1907, and later enlarged by 12 acres in 1910.

The park takes its name from the illustrious Victorian art critic and social reformer John Ruskin who had lived in various houses in the Denmark Hill area and had written in glowing terms about the pleasantness of the countryside in the area. The name takes part of its poignancy from the fact that Ruskin eventually left, citing the fact that development was spoiling his view. Other famous residents of the area have included Felix Mendelssohn, the German composer of the Early Romantic period who wrote a piano song called “Spring Song”, otherwise known as “Camberwell Green”, about the local area.

The park is well known for being located right next to two of London’s most important hospitals, King’s College Hospital and Maudsley hospital, providing a welcome retreat for patients and staff. During World War I it was annexed by the King’s College Hospital and tents were erected to home recovering soldiers. It is also popular as a cut-through with commuters who use Denmark Hill rail station. As such it is well known throughout the borough as a pleasant place to spend the afternoon or to go jogging in the early mornings. Although south of the Thames the park is also relatively close to central London and it is said that on a clear day it is possible to read the time from the Big Ben clock face from the highest point on Denmark Hill.