Clarence Park History

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Clarence Park- History
 

History

The story of Clarence Park begins in 1892 when the land in which the park is set was owned by no less than 5 individuals and split into two separate areas. The larger of the two areas was owned by the Right Honourable Earl John Spencer.  Earl Spencer conveyed his land to Sir John Blundell in 1892 for the sum of 1,381 Pounds, 17 Shillings and 6 pence. The second, smaller half was jointly owned by James Samuel Fearnley, Mary Susannah Fearnley, Eliza Sanders and Frederic Sanders. They also conveyed their land to Sir John Blundell in 1892 for the sum of 4,000 pounds.Clarence Park Water fountain

The park as a whole was laid out in early 1894, and comprised 16 acres of municipal sports ground and a 9 acre public park and pleasure ground. The benefactor, Sir John Maple, the founder of Maple's furniture store, paid for the land donation, the laying out, planting and construction of the buildings. The City Surveyor, Mr G Ford, designed the layout of the park.  Sir John Blundell conveyed the park to the City of St Albans as Trustee on 23rd July 1894, and the park was opened on the same day by the Duke of Cambridge. The event was accompanied by great celebrations in the city of St Albans. Lady Maple wanted to make her own contribution to the project, and donated a striking water fountain, which can still be seen today.

Clarence Park 2b

 

The importance of the park's heritage was recognised in 1997 when the Heritage Lottery Fund approved a grant to restore many of the original buildings and features in the park. The major building in the park is the impressive Cricket Pavilion, cricket being a favourite sport of Sir John Maple. Works to this building were outside the lottery grant, but the council continues to invest in its upkeep and maintenance, and commissioned a condition survey in 2004 to inform the way forward.
The replacement of the bandstand was the highlight of the Heritage Lottery Fund project, the original having been missing for years after the wooden thatched construction was burnt to the ground.

During the past 114 years the planting has matured but the layout remains virtually unchanged. The park-keeper's lodge, the pavilion, the granite drinking fountain - presented by Lady Blundell Maple - and the three timber kiosks all survive; only the bandstand has been lost.
The high, close-boarded fence that enclosed the sports ground has been replaced by an oak picket fence. The maturing trees and planting have made the sports ground a continuation of the amenities of the pleasure gardens.

The context of the park has changed from a greenfield sports ground to a mature suburban open space, surrounded by Edwardian villas.

Successive councils have been responsible for the care and upkeep of the park since its opening, and have been successful in retaining the layout and buildings. As a result, the park is well used by the local population. The council has designated the park as part of the city's Conservation Area, with the intent that its special character should be preserved and enhanced.

Date of last review: 07 June 2018