Black Prince Road commemorates the fact that between 1350 & 1531 there was a palace built by Edward in the area. Later James I settled the manor on the Prince of Wales so that the DUCHY OF CORNWALL still provides Prince Charles with an income from property in Kennington. Some of these properties feature on this walk together with the site of the VAUXHALL PLEASURE GARDENS. New Spring Gardens opened on the site in 1661 and were initially free. When Jonathan Tyers took over in 1728 he added buildings and structural features and provided entertainment. The renamed gardens levied an admission charge but they were patronised by high society. The rehearsal for Handel's 'Music for the Royal Fireworks' was attended by 12,000 people. After Tyers death in 1767 they remained in the family and fireworks, ballooon ascents and tightrope walking events were staged. The gardens were sold to new owners in 1821 but from the 1840s there followed a period of closures and sales. They finally closed in 1859 following the building of the railway between Nine Elms & Waterloo and the rival Crystal Palace at Sydenham. The area was built over with housing, later cleared following bomb damage. The Lambeth riverfront changed dramatically with the construction of the Albert Embankment in 1866-70.
OVAL STATION is on the first tube railway in the world. The City & South London Railway was opened in November 1890 between Stockwell and King William Street. The idea of cable haulage was substituted by electric traction making it the first underground to be so powered and a hydraulic lift was provided. The locomotive pulled 3 small carriages fitted only with small high-level windows. This with the buttoned upholstery earned them the nickname 'padded cells'. Gatemen would call out the stations and open doors at the ends of the carriages onto the platforms. Later cars were modified but one has been restored to its original condition and can be seen in the Transport Museum in Covent Garden website
The LODGE in Kennington Park was designed by Henry Roberts as 'model dwelling houses for families' for the Great Exhibition, where they won a medal. The project was supported by Prince Albert who provided the funding. The building consisted of 4 flats each with a sitting room, 2 small & one large bedroom, kitchen, scullery & WC. It was constructed using hollow bricks and smooth internal walls that did not require plastering. It was estimated that they could be built for around £450 and the design was later used in Cowley Gardens, Stepney and Fenelon Place, Kensington. It was re-erected in its present location in 1852 to house two park attendants and a small museum. There is an inscription under the balcony.
On 15 October 1940 over 100 people were killed when a trench shelter in Kennington Park received a direct hit. There is a memorial to those killed in the park. [more info]
A number of attractions are within walking distance of the finish of the walk.
The GARDEN MUSEUM is housed in the former St Mary-at-Lambeth Church and was inspired by the Tradescant family of plant collectors. It includes indoor and outdoor displays together with a library, vegetarian cafe & shop and occasional special exhibitions. Admission charge. Open Tuesday - Sunday 10:30 -5. Tel 020 7401 8865. website
The IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM (reached via Lambeth Road) is housed in the former Bedlam Hospital and has permanent and changing exhibitions about Britain's wartime past. Open daily 10-6. Admission free but charge for some special exhibitions. Shop & cafe. Tel: 020 7416 5000. website. It is set in Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park which also has a Tibetan Peace Garden opened in 1999.
The FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE MUSEUM (reached via Lambeth Palace Road) is located in St Thomas' Hospital and is dedicated to her life and work. Open Mon -Fri 10-5 and Sats, Suns & BH Mons 11:30- 4:30. Admission charge. Tel 020 7620 0374. website
TATE BRITAIN (cross Lambeth Bridge & go left along Millbank) displays British art from 1500 to the present, including the Turner bequest, in changing and special exhibitions. Open daily 10-5:50. Admission to permanent collections free. Shop & cafe. Tel: 020 7887 8000. website
WESTMINSTER ABBEY (cross Lambeth Bridge & go right through Victoria Tower Gardens). There is a charge to visit the Abbey itself but the precincts can be explored [more info]. College Garden is open Tue - Thurs 10-6 April - Sept & 10-4 October - March. website
LONDON EYE and South Bank Attractions (reached via riverside walk). LONDON EYE operates daily 9:30am - 10pm but is closed for maintenance in January. Flights in the glass capsules last half an hour and from the top you can see 25 miles - on a clear day! Bookings can be made by telephone on 0870 5000 600 or on the website.
There is a book LAMBETH, KENNINGTON & CLAPHAM in the Britain in Old Photographs series by Jill Dudman.
The London Encyclopaedia has an account of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens.
Friends of Kennington Park [website]
A website has information on the area including local
LAMBETH ARCHIVES are housed at the Minet Library, 52 Knatchbull Road, SE5 9QY. Tel 020 7926 6076 for opening times and bookings (recommended). The Landmark digital imaging project is being undertaken to make the collection more accessable [website].
© london-footprints.co.uk 2012
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