Every month CabbieBlog hopes to show
you a little gem of a building that you might have passed without noticing, in the past
they have ranged from a modernist car park; a penguin pool; to a Hanoverian
In 1840 thirty-thousand local residents petitioned Queen Victoria for the formation of a Royal Park to improve the environment and their quality of life.
The Queen assented and Victoria Park known as ‘Memorial to the Sovereign’, which the Queen visited personally in 1873, was laid out in 1845-50. Due to this public pressure Victoria Park was one of three new parks proposed by a central government initiative to serve the burgeoning population in what was then the suburbs.
Located within a poor working class area this, one of the largest of London’s parks, was soon renamed ‘The People’s Park’ and now has one of the highest visitor numbers in all of London’s parks with up to 12 million visiting a year.
Hard as it may be to imagine it today, Hackney was once a rural village and until the early 19th century at least, was known for its gardens and as a place where the rich built homes away from the city’s dirty conditions. Samuel Pepys mentions in his diary:
Mr. Creed dined with me, and thence after dinner by coach with my wife only to take the ayre, it being very warm and pleasant, to Bowe and Old Ford; and thence to Hackney. There ‘light, and played at shuffle-board, eat cream and good churies; and so with good refreshment home.
At its north-eastern end at Hackney Wick is Molesworth Gate, and near it stands Molesworth Lodge built by park architect James Penneyhorne in 1852, but today it looks derelict. Molesworth Lodge was constructed as part of the original park layout as were Morpeth, St. Agnes and Crown Gate Lodges. Molesworth Lodge is Grade II listed.
This quintessential Victorian building in stock brick with its diapered diamond-pattern black bricks with stone dressings; high pitched roof with finials; its features include a few clusters of diagonal chimneys and several windows with lozenge glazing. Much of this reflecting its neighbours in the richer De Beauvoir Square built at about the same time.
Picture: Molesworth Lodge, Victoria Park by Julian Osley CC BY-SA 2.0)