Clissold Park is a 22 hectares (54 acres) community park in Stoke Newington within the London Borough of Hackney (map; OS grid reference TQ325863). It includes a variety of mature trees and three stretches of water.
Site information and records: The Reservoirs Nature Society (TeRNS), Stoke Newington's wildlife group.
Much of Clissold Park was originally the grounds of a country villa built in the 1790s for a local Quaker banker, Jonathan Hoare, who planted the estate with a fine collection of trees. In 1811 the house passed into the ownership of the Crawshay family. In the 1820s, despite objections from her parents, Eliza Crawshay married the Reverend Augustus Clissold, and after the death of her parents they moved into the house and renamed it Clissold House.
In the 1880s the grounds of the house and the adjacent common land of Newington Common were threatened with development and the Metropolitan Board of Works was persuaded to buy the land and create a public park.
The park was created in 1889 by the newly formed London County Council. Like many other London parks it was managed and maintained by the LCC and then the Greater London Council until the GLC was abolished in 1986. It then passed into the hands of Hackney Council.
The two lakes at the north end of the park lie on the line of Hackney Brook and are the result of the production of clay bricks in the 18th century. The brook was subsequently diverted and became part of the Victorian sewer system. The lakes are named the Beckmere and the Runtzmere in honour of the park’s principal founders, Joseph Beck of the City of London and John Runtz of the Metropolitan Board of Work.
The house still exists and is a Grade II listed building. It now houses a cafeteria.
The L-shaped stretch of water in front of Clissold House was originally part of the New River, constructed in 1610 to bring clean water from Amwell in Hertfordshire to London (via a reservoir at Sadlers Wells). The river was diverted into pipes in the late 19th century, but the section in front of the house was retained as an ornamental feature.
The park includes sports fields, tree-lined footpaths, a deer enclosure, a bowling green and tennis courts. On the northern edge of the park are two lakes with islands. Near the middle of the park is an L-shaped ribbon of water.
Clissold Park is a small urban park, and the habitat reflects its limited breeding and resident species. Breeding birds include Goldcrest, Blackcap, Little Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Mallard, Great Spotted Woodpecker, (occasionally) Willow Warbler and Common Pochard, as well as the expected parkland / garden species. Ring-necked Parakeets, Green Woodpeckers, and Chiffchaffs are also present, Shovelers winter on the lakes, and a Collared Dove roost on Beckmere Island holds up to 20 birds.
Scarcer visitors in recent years include Common Sandpiper, Wheatear, Cetti's Warbler, Firecrest and Brambling. Early morning visits are recommended as the park is busy.
Contributed by The Reservoirs Nature Society (TeRNS), Stoke Newington's wildlife group.
The park’s nearest railway station is Stoke Newington, on the National Rail line from Liverpool Street to Cheshunt and Enfield. It is about 1km from the edge of the park. Slightly farther away are three Underground stations — Arsenal, Finsbury Park and Manor House. All are on the Piccadilly line and Finsbury Park is also served by the Victoria Line.
Buses 141, 341 and 393 pass along the edge of the park and routes 73, 106 and 476 pass nearby.
The park opens daily at 7.30am, closing at 9.30pm in summer and 4.30pm in winter. The park has a network of surfaced paths providing easy access for wheelchair users.
The park includes an organic nature garden, open on Mondays, a butterfly tunnel (closed at present), an aviary and a pond with a dipping platform. The park cafe offers a range of food from take-away snacks to three-course meals. Shops and pubs can be found close to the park.
This information has been cobbled together from various online sources by Andrew Haynes, who has not visited Clissold Park in 30 years but thinks that it deserves a page on this website. If you are familiar with the site, please correct, expand and/or update this information. Updated 2018 by Ernest Thomason.