London’s parks and open spaces played a hugely important role in the lives of Londoners during the recent years of lockdown. They provided an escape; a place to breathe and relax, to exercise and play.
There’s now an open-air exhibition of photographs and prints showing off the evolution of London’s parks since the sixteenth century, including festivals, gardening and promenading; from playgrounds to allotments, bruising Sunday football to grazing flocks of sheep.
Based on images from the London Metropolitan Archives, the exhibition is a series of display boards with explanation texts and lots of fascinating drawings.
A handful that caught my attention, included the view of Grosvenor Square surrounded by low-rise houses and is about to undergo a big revamp. The image of Greenwich Park says it shows the railway, but as the railway is in a tunnel, I presume it’s an early example of a developer trying to overcome objections by showing what difference their project will make to an area.
Some of the photos are marvellously Edwardian, with ladies in heavy long skirts shooting arrows or having picnics, while the men are shown working in the market gardens.
There are a lot of display boards, and all four-sided, so you can spend quite a bit of time at the exhibition, although personally, I would have prefered a slightly larger text to make it a bit easier to read.
This free outdoor exhibition will tour the City and London’s open spaces this summer as follows:
- 30th & 31st July – Guildhall Yard, off Gresham Street
- 1st August 14th August – Aldgate Square, Aldgate High Street
- 15th to 31st August – Hampstead Heath, South End Green entrance to the Heath, close to Hampstead Heath Overground station
- 1st to 18th September – The View, Epping Forest Visitor Centre, Ranger’s Road