London Visit: I’m lucky to live near Clissold Park which is a lovely green space in North London. It was opened in 1889 after being saved as much needed community space by Joseph Beck and John Runtz. The 22.57 hectares / 55.8 acres of lovely Green Flag parkland includes mature trees, ponds, animal enclosures, tennis courts and a brilliant play area. Situated in Stoke Newington (London Borough of Hackney), this park attracts the locals who visit in their droves as soon as the shows it’s face in the summer. If you’re looking for a North London park or free things to do in London, make sure you visit Clissold Park.
Clissold Park Amenities
This is a small and very manageable family friendly park which has some splendid amenities. Children are well catered for which in turn keeps the parents happy. In the morning you’ll see joggers running around the perimeter and dog owners giving their pets some exercise. Mid-morning is when the mums visit with their kids. At the weekends it’s a mix of professional couples, creative types living in the vicinity and parents with their children. The park closes at night; the opening hours vary according to day light as it gets dark the park will close. You’ll see the opening hours on the notice boars on entry to the park so make a mental note of these. I’ll talk you through the amenities to give you an idea of what this pretty park has to offer.
Play Area: The kids play area is quite large. It gets rammed at the weekend thanks to the climbing frames, swings, big slide on a hill and extensive playing equipment. With a bouncy floor, the kids can run around and let off steam. There are a few benches for the adults to sit and drink their take-away coffee. If you look out for Clissold House, the play area is located to one side.
Paddling Pool: A sizeable paddling pool is located within the park. It’s usually open from late May until September from 11am until 7pm. On Monday and Thursday, it’s closed for cleaning. The pool is shallow and designed for splashing around in. It’s certainly loved by toddlers who seem to have so much fun.
Animals and Birds: View the goats and fallow deer roaming around the enclosures who will often come right up close to the fence. There are also some chickens clucking about and a cute chicken coop around the corner. Situated close by is also a bird aviary and small butterfly dome (usually open July until September although currently closed).
Sports: There is an outdoor table tennis table located near the play area which I have played several games on. Tennis courts are available for hire. There is a bowling green located in the park with a pavilion and outdoor classroom. Check out the notice board which you will find on the concrete area outside Clissold House towards the bowling green location.
Memorial Fountain: There is a lovely fountain which celebrates Joseph Beck and John Runtz who were instrumental in campaigning for this land to be used as a public park. You’ll see dogs lapping up water from the bottom of the fountains while their owners can use the top drinking fountains. Pretty flower beds surround this monument with benches facing. This is my favourite part of the park.
Ponds: There are two wildlife ponds (or lakes) close to each other. These are named after Joseph Beck (Beckmere) and John Runtz (Runtzmere). You will spot ducks and swans enjoying the water and even terrapins. You will also see remains of the New River and Capital Rings waterways in the park.
Clissold House: This Grade II listed house (formerly Paradise House) was recently refurbished. It’s a grand house which dates back to the 1790s. It was built for Jonathan Hoare, a local Quaker, philanthropist and anti-slavery campaigner. It benefits from a terrace in the front which is covered and here you will find tables and chairs for alfresco refreshments. You can eat at the cafe which sells basic dishes such as cooked breakfasts, croissants and pain au chocolate between 8.30-12. Lunch is served from 12pm which is along the lines of soups, pizzas, salads, jacket potatoes and toasted sandwiches. You can also order Union coffee, scones and a selection of cakes. Rooms in Clissold House are available to rent for events like weddings. The toilets are in a block outside Clissold House so if you use the restaurant visit the toilets beforehand.
To the side of the House in the grounds you’ll find a hatch serving food with seating in the beautiful garden. They also serve soft ice cream with chocolate flakes which is always delicious. You can enjoy your coffee or cold drinks and slice of cake outside with a view of St Mary’s New Church.
Activities: There are quite a few activities going on in the park covering yoga to explorations of nature and wildlife. Festivals and fairs are hosted in the park. Check out the notice boards in Clissold House and around the park for information and the websites listed at the end of this article. There is also a small amount of land is used for growing organic herbs and veg located near the animal enclosure and bird aviary. This is open to the public usually one day a week. The board on the door says you can look around on Mondays. This project is run by Growing Communities, a local social enterprise. They grow salad leaves for organic box schemes and run the Stoke Newington Farmer’s Market on Sundays.
Near Clissold Park
You can reach Clissold Park by travelling to Stoke Newington station and walking along Stoke Newington Church Street. You will pass by some lovely independent shops, eateries and pubs. Look out for the Gothic spire of St Mary’s New Church which is opposite the park. Read my Stoke Newington Guide for more information.
Alternatively, travel to Arsenal or Finsbury Park and walk from there. Go via Mountgrove Road where there are a few cute independent shops and eateries to check out. Or you can get off at Manor House and walk down Green Lanes, look out for the big Castle which is a climbing centre and located close by is the park. Behind the castle you’ll find the West Reservoir, East Reservoir and Woodberry Wetlands which is a Nature Reserve. Read my feature about the Woodberry Wetlands for more information.
Not far is Newington Green which is a small patch of green space surrounded by cafes and eateries which is worth a visit if you want some food. A couple of places I’d recommend are Tattoria Sapori for pizza and Newington Table for weekend brunch.
Clissold Park Further Reading
To find out more about the park, history and activities it’s a good idea to take a look at these websites.
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: Homegirl London.
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