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The following is from the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. For the most up-to-date Register entry, please visit the The National Heritage List for England (NHLE):

www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/

A public park laid out by Alexander McKenzie and opened in 1863. 

DESCRIPTION

LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING

Alexandra Park, c 76ha, lies to the north of Hornsey, north-east of Muswell Hill and to the west of Wood Green. The site is surrounded by dense housing except to the east where the boundary is formed by the railway line. The Palace stands on a natural platform with extensive views over London to the south. The land falls steeply from the platform to the south-east and north-east.

ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES

The main entrance to the park from the north is at the south end of The Avenue and leads directly to the terrace on the north side of Alexandra Palace. As first laid out, the park was entered via the gate off the west end of Alexandra Park Road, and The Avenue, lined with chestnuts, led through the park.

A second entrance is situated at the south end of Bedford Road at the north-east corner of the site. From here a drive leads south-west across the site to the north-east corner of the Palace platform.

There are also entrances from the north off Alexandra Park Road; into the west side of the park from the south end of Grove Avenue; and north from the junction of Muswell Hill and Priory Road, into the south end of the park. The entrance from Duke's Avenue, under the railway arch, was opened in 1906, mainly to provide access from Muswell Hill to the new tram terminus.

PRINCIPAL BUILDING

The original Alexandra Palace was the exhibition building from the Great International Exhibition of 1862 which was re-erected in Alexandra Park and opened in 1873. It burnt down sixteen days after the opening but was rebuilt by Meeson and Johnson and re-opened in 1875. The building was again destroyed by fire in 1980. Alexandra Palace (listed grade II) was restored and re-opened in 1988 and now provides facilities for exhibitions, conferences, and an ice-rink.

The Palace stands on a natural platform c 76m above the level of the railway to the east, from where there are extensive views. Originally at the centre of the park, due to subsequent housing development the Palace now stands towards the west side of the site.

GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS

The Palace forms the focus of the park. To the south-east, the ground slopes steeply down towards the southern boundary. When laid out, this was set with a pattern of informal walks leading down through lawns set with specimen trees, shrubs, and informal bedding. The arrangement has since been simplified. Due east of the Palace, a miniature golf course was added in the 1920s, one of several sports facilities put in at this time. On the upper slopes of the park north of this is an oval, hedge-enclosed rose garden at the centre of which is a fountain, moved here following the fire in 1980 from its original site in the Italian Garden which occupied the courtyard of the Palace between the Great Hall and the western conservatory. On the level ground at the foot of the hill is a race course (opened in 1868), the centre of which is now used as a cricket ground. Between the rose garden and the east entrance is the site of the Banqueting Hall and former diving pavilion and tank.

To the north of the Palace is a substantial terrace, c 300m long by c 50m wide, supported by Italianate arcades. This covered the new railway station (closed in 1954) from which a branch line ran to Highgate, giving a through-connection to King Cross and City termini. Beyond the northern end of this feature a substantial area of hard standing has been put in, used for events and car parking.

The main feature in the northern part of the park is the irregular boating lake which lies immediately north of the Palace. This was one of a series of ornamental pools formed by the damming of the stream which originally ran down the western boundary of the site. Originally it formed the setting for a water village, constructed on piles within it. The rest of the lakes were lost as part of the sale of land in the late 1870s. Until the 1880s a permanent circus, with provision for seating an audience of 3000, was situated to the east of The Avenue. The land was sold for housing and developed in the 1880s.

To the south-west of the Palace, the Park continues beyond Grove Avenue as an area known as The Grove, linking the site to Muswell Hill station. A miniature Japanese village, exhibited at the Vienna Exhibition of 1873, was re-erected in this area, placed in its own miniature landscape laid out by a Japanese gardener. It was burnt down in 1897, to be replaced, in the 1920s, by tennis courts. In 1911, a chalet was built in The Grove to accompany the bandstand which had already been put up. In the 1920s, a new avenue was planted and an area was made for dancing.

Although the site has been subject to a number of alterations, the arrangement of the original path system can still be traced in most areas of the park.

REFERENCES

The Times, 12 November 1858

Illustrated London News, 16 July 1859

Haringey History Bulletin, no.29 (1988)

B Elliott, Victorian Gardens (1986)

Maps

OS 6" to 1 mile:

1st edition published 1873

2nd edition published 1894-6

3rd edition published 1920

 

Description written: March 1999

Register Inspector: CB

Edited: May 2000

 

Owner: Haringey Council

Civic Centre, High Road, Wood Green, London

Site designation(s)

The National Heritage List for England: Register of Parks and Gardens Grade II Reference GD 2265

Principal building:

Palace Created 1873 to 1875

The exhibition building from the Great International Exhibition of 1862 was being taken down at South Kensington, and this was brought to the site and re-erected. It was opened in 1873, but caught fire and was re-built and re-opened in 1875.

Environment

Terrain: The Palace stands on a natural platform with extensive views over London to the south. The land falls steeply from the platform to the south-east and north-east.

External web site link: http://www.alexandrapalace.com

External web site link: http://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1001253

External web site link: http://www.londongardensonline.org.uk/gardens-online-record.asp?ID=HGY002