London’s best local parks

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  • Clissold | Springfield | Battersea | Ravenscourt | Gladstone | Brockwell Finsbury | Victoria

    Feature_londonparks_CREDIT_Phil Fisk (12).jpg
    Gladstone Park

    Gladstone Park, NW2

    Gladstone Park, the recipient of a Green Flag Award, occupies 35 hectares (97 acres) of well-maintained, rising grassland with a beautiful avenue of trees, a quaint duck pond, a pretty walled garden, a lovely café and a smattering of wood carvings. A footbridge straddles a little-used freight railway that cuts through the park’s centre.

    Getting in

    10/10

    Gladstone Park is bordered by Kendall and Anson Roads to the south and Dollis Hill Lane to the north. Parking is relatively easy on Kendall Road but you may find it easier to take the tube to Dollis Hill and walk the short distance to the park. Because there are no gates, the park is open 24/7 and is dimly lit at night. Cycling is permitted.

    History

    7/10

    The park was named in 1907 after Sir William Gladstone (prime minister on three occasions between 1868 and 1894), who used the currently dilapidated mansion, Dollis Hill House, as a country retreat, presumably because it was well within striking distance of Parliament. The view in the early 1900s was so impressive that author Mark Twain, on a one-off visit to the house, is reported to have said: ‘I have never seen any place that was so satisfactorily situated, with its noble trees and stretch of country; and all within a biscuit’s throw of the metropolis of the world.’ In 1907, the park was bought by Brent Council, which maintains it to this day.Feature_londonparks_CREDIT_Phil Fisk (13).jpg

    Park life

    8/10

    The sports pitches are supplemented by a decent-sized changing room/lavatory facility, plus a café operated by the same people who run the delightful Karmarama Café at the top of the park. Karmarama is situated, along with a small gallery, in The Stables near the big house. If peace and quiet is your thing, head to the nearby Walled Garden, a sheltered area filled with stunning flowers and shrubs.Also at the top of the park is an under-used bowling green, ten tennis courts and a kids’ playground, while south of the railway track near the changing rooms is Gladstone Youth and Community Centre.

    Fun stuff

    7/10

    The fabulous Gladstonbury Festival takes place every June. Bands play on several stages throughout the day and there are dozens of stalls selling locally made items. Sideshows include a children’s funfair, open-mic slots, a tranquil ColourDome and the increasingly popular Woofstock Dog Show, an alternative to Crufts.
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    Landmarks

    5/10

    The remains of Grade II-listed Dollis Hill House are the only eyesore in the park. The house was frequented by Sir William Gladstone during the late 1800s, served as a hospital during World War I and was later a restaurant, before being burned down in two arson attacks in the 1990s. Since then, it has remained a mere shell of unsightly scaffolding and metal sheeting while the council decides what to do. It’s a sore point with locals, who would love to see it restored. There’s also Dudding Hill Junction, a picturesque wooden junction house that doesn’t appear to have changed in a century. Lastly, The Stables dates back to 1820 and is home to Brent’s only dedicated contemporary art gallery. Derek Adams

    Total:

    37/50

    Gladstone Park, Anson Rd/Dollis Hill Lane, NW2 (www.gladstonepark.co.uk/www.gpcc.ik.com). Dollis Hill tube. Open 24 hours.

    Clissold | Springfield | Battersea | Ravenscourt | Gladstone | Brockwell Finsbury | Victoria

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The fabulous Gladstonbury Festival takes place every June. Bands play on several stages throughout the day and there are dozens of stalls selling locally made items. Sideshows include a children’s funfair, open-mic slots, a tranquil ColourDome and the increasingly popular Woofstock Dog Show, an alternative to Crufts.Feature_londonparks_CREDIT_Phil Fisk (11).jpg The remains of Grade II-listed Dollis Hill House are the only eyesore in the park. The house was frequented by Sir William Gladstone during the late 1800s, served as a hospital during World War I and was later a restaurant, before being burned down in two arson attacks in the 1990s. Since then, it has remained a mere shell of unsightly scaffolding and metal sheeting while the council decides what to do. It’s a sore point with locals, who would love to see it restored. There’s also Dudding Hill Junction, a picturesque wooden junction house that doesn’t appear to have changed in a century. Lastly, The Stables dates back to 1820 and is home to Brent’s only dedicated contemporary art gallery. Clissold | Springfield | Battersea | Ravenscourt | Gladstone | Brockwell Finsbury | Victoria

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