The Garden History Grapevine, in association with the Gardens Trust, are running 2 new courses on the History of Public Parks.  In April and May there will be a series of 5 study days on individual London parks  and  then in the autumn a 12 week course on more general park history.    As usual the classes will be small [max size 16] with lively illustrated lectures, opportunities for discussion and further personal reading & research suggestions if you wish.screenshot


You may think you know these places quite well but we guarantee you’ll learn a lot more!

Each day will start with a classroom based session on the park, its history and planting  at the IHR from 10.30-1.00. Coffee/tea and light refreshments are available in the IHR Common Room but only after 10.30. The small coffee stall in South Block of Senate House [at the opposite end of the entrance hall to the IHR] is open earlier and you’re welcome to bring a drink into the class with you.

After lunch [not provided, so bring a picnic or get something  en route or when you arrive at the park itself – but be warned there are no facilities at Brompton, The Hill or Wanstead] there will be a guided tour of the park.

Monday 3rd April – Kensington Gardens – Letta Jones

Monday 10th April – Brompton Cemetery – Letta Jones

Monday 24th April – The Hill & The Pergola, Hampstead Heath – Letta Jones

Monday 8th May –  Wanstead and Valentines – Stephen Smith

Monday 22nd May – The Gardens of the City of London – Stephen Smith

Transport is not provided but all the sites are easily accessible by public transport and full directions will be given. The afternoon visit will go ahead whatever the weather – so come prepared!

Each study day will be £34 but although each is ‘contained’ and not necessarily dependent on the others, we are offering them initially at a group discount price of £145, a saving of £25 over the £170 cost of 5 individual tickets. Individual tickets will not be available until March 13th, and then only if we have not sold all 16 places.


HISTORY OF PUBLIC PARKS – 12 weeks  19th Sept- 5th Dec

This will look at the history of places deliberately designed as parks or other public open spaces.  From the earliest parks in London and cities like Exeter laid out in the early 17thc, to the development of the square and the rise of the municipal park via the Prince Regent’s attempts to become a property magnate, the term ends with an exploration of the seaside park. In the spring term of 2018 we will continue the same theme, particularly investigating those places which have been converted from private gardens or estates into public parks, and also looking at the rise and decline of municipal parks departments etc.

Normal class meetings will be on Tuesday mornings from 10.30-1.00,  but 4 of them are all day. [2 have lectures in the morning and a visit in the afternoon while 2 are all day visits out of London].  The course fee is £245 [plus Eventbrite’s booking fee] but please note that that does not include transport or admission fees for the visits. The course tutors will be Letta Jones, M.A., Stephen Smith, M.A., and Dr David Marsh.


19 Sept – An overview of the history of parks and public open spaces in Britain – David

26 Sept – The open spaces and parks of early modern London – David

3 Oct – Walking tour of some of the surviving open spaces of early modern London – David

10 Oct – morning: The Rise of the Garden Square –

afternoon: VISIT to Brunswick and Mecklenburgh Squares – Stephen

17 Oct – The History of Regents Park – Letta

24 Oct –  VISIT to Regents Park – Letta

31 Oct –  John Claudius Loudon and the “invention” of the Public Park – Stephen

7 Nov – Derby Arboretum – ALL DAY Visit – Stephen

14 Nov – morning: The Victorian Public Park

afternoon VISIT to Battersea Park – Letta

21 Nov – Visit to Crystal Palace – Letta

28 Nov – Seaside Parks  – Stephen

5 Dec –  ALL DAY visit to Folkestone – Stephen


If you require further information about any of these courses then please email the organizers direct either via Eventbrite or

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