Londonâs best local parks
Ravenscourt Park, W6Ravenscourt is less a traditional park, more a secret garden. While larger than your average private acreage, it has a refreshing local feel and is suitably off the beaten track. Nestling between the messy bustle of Hammersmith and the quiet splendour of Chiswick, it’s a hidden oasis of rural tranquility. Even in the height of summer it remains blissfully calm, part of the reason being that west London is awash with big-name parks – Hyde and Holland being the main attractions.
9/10All the entrances are wide and Tarmac-ed, making the space popular with cyclists and disabled visitors. Its compact size means you’re never far from an exit – although only the one near Hamlet Gardens has an ice-cream van outside it. Ravenscourt Park tube is close by.
9/10The first mention of Ravenscourt Park was in the thirteenth century; documents record the existence of a manor house surrounded by a moat fed by Stamford Brook.
Originally known as Paddenswick Manor, it acquired its current name in 1747 when the estate was sold to Thomas Corbett, then secretary to the Admiralty. Eager to make his mark, he named it after the raven on his coat of arms. Paddenswick Road, which runs along its north-east border, is a reminder of the original name. The park was a private estate for five centuries – among its medieval tenants was Edward III’s mistress, Alice Perrers – before it finally fell into public hands in 1888.
Disaster struck during World War II. Ravenscourt House was devastated by an incendiary bomb in 1941 and only the stable block remains. It’s now home to a charming tea house.
7/10The Walled Garden is a hidden gem. Tucked away in the north-east corner, it exudes a Zen-like charm and is the perfect place to wile away an afternoon. If staring at plants isn’t your thing, then there are passable tennis courts, a bowling lawn and a putting green. Kids are well catered for with a paddling pool, a nature trail and a seriously fun adventure playground (adults are often spotted commandeering the rope slide). Lavatories are fairly basic.
Fun stuff7/10Bonfire night is the biggest date in the diary. Vast crowds gather to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ over spectacular pyrotechnics that bathe the park in an ethereal glow. Space for 8,000 spectators at the bargain price of around a fiver each, makes it one of the capital’s finest displays.The equally popular, but less spectacular, Carter’s Steam Fair rolls into the park most years. Children take centre stage in August with the annual PlayDay. A more highbrow note is struck in late summer with an evening of alfresco opera. Rounding off the summer season is the London Freewheel in September, a mass bike ride which attracts around 40,000 two-wheelers. Ravenscourt is one of four starting points (www.londonfreewheel.com).
6/10Aside from the tea house, the buildings of note lie on the fringes. Thanks to its green and pleasant part of London, Ravenscourt has been a popular hospital location but little remains of the original sixteenth-century leper hospice. For many, the most interesting building is The Raven pub, famed for its gastro grub, cosy ambiance and perfectly mixed Pimm’s. Serena Kutchinsky
Ravenscourt Park, Paddenswick Rd, W6 (www.lbhf.gov.uk). Ravenscourt Park tube.
Clissold | Springfield | Battersea | Ravenscourt | Gladstone | Brockwell Finsbury | Victoria
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Aside from the tea house, the buildings of note lie on the fringes. Thanks to its green and pleasant part of London, Ravenscourt has been a popular hospital location but little remains of the original sixteenth-century leper hospice. For many, the most interesting building is The Raven pub, famed for its gastro grub, cosy ambiance and perfectly mixed Pimm’s. Clissold | Springfield | Battersea | Ravenscourt | Gladstone | Brockwell Finsbury | Victoria