Ruskin Park

It was, astonishingly, sunny and pleasant on Sunday so the wife and I decided to make the most of it with a walk to Dulwich, visiting the park and the village. That’s not Camberwell so I won’t bore you with that, but on the way back we decided to take a little trip around Ruskin Park.

The park was named in honour of the Victorian poet/painter/artist/critic John Ruskin who lived nearby until the expansion of the railways spoiled his view and he left in a huff. The site of his old house is where the Champion Hill Estate now sits.

I think he would probably be a little disappointed with his tribute; when it was opened in 1907 I’m sure it was lovely, but in the years since it’s become a little… let’s say, scruffy. We entered via the upper gate on Denmark Hill and first impressions were good; well-kept grass, lots of flowers, a few random architectural remains. But the further we walked, the more run down it became. There’s an overgrown bowling green, the bandstand is surrounded by aluminium fencing, the ground alternates between overgrown grass and patches of scrub. Unimpressive.

There were facilities which may have been impressive 15 years ago; a large football pitch (gravel, unfortunately, which explains why a large group preferred to play on the park with jumpers for goalposts), a few tennis courts and a childrens play area — a small square of overgrown grass with a tree stump in the middle. The entrance board also claimed there was a pond, but either we didn’t pass it or it was so covered in algae that it just looked like grass.

It’s a shame that it’s been left to run down, because the park is a good size and had a big crowd of people in it. A little investment would go a long way there. There were a couple of posters up for a group called Friends of Ruskin Park [Update: That’s what I thought they were called, but seems I was mistaken] who are campaigning for improvements. Good luck to them.

On the way home we dropped into The Phoenix so I could have a Leffe. The Sunday roast in there looks great, but I’ve been stung by their food before. Maybe I’ll try it, in the spirit of scientific adventure.

Author: Peter

Long-time resident of Camberwell, author of this blog since July 2004.

66 thoughts on “Ruskin Park”

  1. Lambeth Council parks people will tell you: 0207 926 9000.

    Ths smaller pool in Myatts Fields park was full the other day — that is a really nice place these days.

  2. knew this area Ruskin Park House 1991 to 1997 — good and bad memories met Jack Jones here ver kindly person and wife fascinating for me as had been involved in politics previously and church when I met Tony Benn. Unfortunately this interesting busy period with my music etc coincided with passing of Mum and Dad 1995 and 1996 Christmas time both and also the great divorce after 12 years having had a stroke this year in January wonderful care at St. Thomas where Roger junior was born 1990 I remember the times there commmittee meetings etc glad to hear via Sue Colley and Glenn that Jack Jones is still alive. I am now very much a South Bank Resident Old Vic and Young as locals with Church and Music and a new beautiful lady who I met in December 1999

  3. that potico 170 denmark hill is all that remains of the house where Capt james wilson lived in the early 1800’s ‚he wa the capt of the very first missonary ship to sail round the world ” the duff” , and yes that is it’s name , nothing to do with the beer in the simpsons .
    i have letters from his daughter Elizabeth wilson dated 1820 to 1830 , she is writing to the man she married in 1826 and they had children , she moved to brighton and died in 1878
    her grandfather was richard holbert who’s tomb is still near the site of the chapel he founded in york street , now browning street walworth

  4. What a great read! I wish I could get in touch with all those who had lived at Ruskin park House. My family (the Stephens) moved into B block in about 1953. Whenever I dream of home it’s always Ruskin park House. Such a friendly place. There was a great residents committee, a Christmas party for all the children each year, a seaside trip in the summer, and even a drama club. I particularly remember Mr Barnard the first head porter, and Elsie my favourite cleaner who always gave the kids sweets, plus the fabulous conker trees on the middle lawn. I lived at 191 and then 54. I also adored Ruskin Park, full of squirrels and a variety of wild birds. Happy days.

  5. Ruskin Park- oh I do love the place, I have been living in Camberwell for 3 months and i must say its really great. especially that in Poland we dont have too many parks 🙁 the park is amazing especially for jogging in the morning:)

  6. I live in Ruskin Park House and really love the building and the location but the already pricey service charge is due to go up by 45% over the next year. I know shocking eh? If there are any other residents out there who want to meet up to discuss this and try to do something about it please start blogging.….……

  7. Emily @59

    We are due for some hot weather over the next couple of days so you can almost be sure that someone will be filling the paddling pool in Ruskin Park early tomorrow morning…

  8. So glad to hear that Ruskin Park has had some recent maintenance to bring back some of its old beauty. There used to be a very nice part, near the tea rooms … oh, I wonder if THEY are still there … which was a true flower garden, laid out in a really tranquil way, with walkways covered in trellises with various kinds of ornamental creeping plant over them providing shelter from the sun. There used to be a robin there that my brother and I would feed when we were kids, he would seem to be waiting for us. I remember feeling really guilty and mortified when we just couldn’t bring outselves to go out during a blizzard to feed him. I think we assumed that he was totally dependent on us and would starve to death!

    Haven’t been there in years now, perhaps because I’m livng about 100 miles north of Sydney, Australia.

  9. Just trying to spread the word…

    The Secret Life of Ruskin Park

    Monday 11 August to Friday 15 August 2008 — 10.30am — 12.30pm each day

    Environmental Drama Workshop Residency

    Come and join Purple Broccoli Theatre for a series of workshops — connecting to nature, playing drama games, story making and creating characters. Recommended for children aged 7 — 10. Places are limited so to book a space please email bandstands@​lambeth.​gov.​uk or call the events service on 020 7926 1017. FREE EVENT

  10. We’re thinking of moving to the Ruskin Park area — would you recommend it for family with a baby? We’ll be looking for good nurseries near the park or denmark hill station and a good dr’s surgery so any recommendations extremely welcome.

  11. This could be a long shot — I’m tracing my family tree and have found that my grandfathers brother lived at 24 Ruskin Park House, and from my records moved there about 1960, his name was Victor Ramsay. I’m just wondering if any of you that have come on here saying you lived there around that time may have remembered him or his wife Dorothy — he’d have been about 62 then.

    You can mail me at juliagould@​mail.​com


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