Access to Nature

Understanding our relationship to nature (in the city) is a long and detailed social history of the development of cities and of local government.

The History of London Parks for instance are one particular 'lens' through which this multifarious epic can be read as a social and economic history.

The chronology of park development in the UK is punctuated with the date 1840, the opening of Derby Arboretum which was designed by John Claudius Loudon. Perhaps this is the best candidate for the UK's first public park.

The two likely candidates to qualify for the title of London's first park are Finsbury Park and Southwark Park. Both opened in 1869 but have different dates to the development of their first proposal, acquisition and layout. Technically Southwark opened first on the 19th June with Finsbury following on 7th August. Both were designed by Alexander McKenzie.

National Parks also help us conceptualise the schema of park 'creation' at different scales and topographical configurations.

Octavia Hill is a key figure in the general movement to understand the value of safeguarding landscape, built and natural heritage. This work led to the foundation of the National Trust.

Richard Jefferies is one of the first pioneers to completely pursue nature writing, and as such developed a whole genre very early.

Lt Col J J Sexby was the Chief Officer of Parks of the London County Council, a horticulturalist and garden designer. He is remembered as the most pivotal figure in the creation of many London parks.