King's College London
Exhibitions & Conferences
The Duke of Wellington

The Venue: Battersea Fields

Battersea Park guide for the Festival of Britain, 1951Battersea Park guide for the Festival of Britain, 1951Battersea Fields was a marshy, low-lying wasteland traversed by streams and dykes situated beside the river on the site of the present Park.

Its relative isolation and windswept countenance made it an ideal meeting place for Londoners to settle scores or fight duels. Along its edges were market gardens growing vegetables and most famously, on higher ground, lavender.

The area was also the haunt of thieves and the scene of an illegal Sunday fair and numerous gypsy encampments, while the notorious Red House, a hostelry dating from Elizabethan times, was the scene of drunken brawls and illegal gambling.

During the 1840s, its unsavoury reputation and interest from property developers attracted by the potential for building on its margins, led to proposals to civilise this dishevelled and untamed corner of Surrey.

Landscaping of the Park took place in the early 1850s and Queen Victoria opened it in 1858.

The Park was home to the Festival of Britain Pleasure Gardens in 1951 and today remains a popular place of recreation.

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