Finsbury Park is a 112 acre (45-hectare) public park in the London Borough of Haringey. Officially part of the London area of Harringay, it is also adjacent to Stroud Green, the Finsbury Park district and Manor House. It was one of the first of the great
Finsbury Park is a 112 acre (45-hectare) public park in the London Borough of Haringey. Officially part of the London area of Harringay, it is also adjacent to Stroud Green, the Finsbury Park district and Manor House. It was one of the first of the great London parks laid out in the Victorian era.
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The park provides a large green space in central north London. It has a mix of open ground, formal gardens, avenues of mature trees and an arboretum area with a mix of more unusual trees. There is also a lake, a children's play area, a cafe and an art exhibition space.
Sports facilities in the park include football pitches, a Bowling green (Finsbury Park Bowls Club), an athletics stadium, and tennis and basketball courts. Unusually for London, the park hosts two facilities for "American" sports: an American football field, home to the 2007 national champion London Blitz, and diamonds for softball and baseball, home to the 2007 national champion London Mets.
In recent years the park has been used for large public events such as Madstock, the Fleadh, Big Gay Out, Party in the Park and Rise: London United.
A £5 million Heritage Lottery Fund Award, made in 2003, enabled significant renovations including cleaning the lake, building a new cafe and children's playground and resurfacing and repairing the tennis courts.
Before the park
The park was landscaped on the northeastern extremity of what was originally a woodland area in the Manor or Prebend of Brownswood. It was part of a large expanse of woodland that was cut further and further back during the period of London's great expansion in the nineteenth century. Londoners have been using the area as a recreation ground for much longer. In the mid eighteenth century a tea rooms had opened on the knoll of land on which Finsbury Park is situated. Londoners would travel out to escape the smoke of the capital and enjoy the remains of the old Hornsey Wood. Around 1800 the tea rooms were developed into a larger building which became known as the Hornsey Wood House/Tavern. A lake was also built on the top of the knoll with water pumped up from the nearby New River. There was boating, a shooting and archery range, and probably cock fighting and other blood sports. The Hornsey Wood Tavern was destroyed in the process of making the area into a park, but the lake was enlarged. However, once the park had opened, a pub across the road from its eastern entrance along Seven Sisters Road called itself the Hornsey Wood Tavern after the original (the pub was later re-named the Alexandra Dining Room, but closed for business in April 2007. It was subsequently demolished.).
Creation of the park
During the early part of the second quarter of the nineteenth century, following developments in Paris, Londoners began to demand the creation of open spaces as an antidote to the ever-increasing urbanisation of London. In 1841 the people of Finsbury in the City of London petitioned for a park to alleviate conditions of the poor. The present-day site of Finsbury Park was one of four suggestions for the location of a park. Originally to be named Albert Park, the first plans were drawn up in 1850. Renamed Finsbury Park, plans for the park's creation were finally ratified by an Act of Parliament in 1857. Despite some considerable local opposition, the park was formally opened on Saturday 7th August 1869. Although the park's name was taken from the area where the nineteenth century benefactors who created it lived, Finsbury Park had earlier been part of an area that bore the name as part of the Finsbury division of the Ossultone Hundred.
Twentieth century to present
Through the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the park was a respectable and beautifully manicured space for people to relax and exercise. By the early twentieth century, it was also becoming a venue for political meetings including pacifist campaigns during the First World War. During World War II, it hosted anti-aircraft guns and was one of the gathering points for heavy armour prior to the D-Day invasions.
Despite decline during the 1970s, recent lottery funding has enabled something of a renaissance in the park's fortunes.
The park and music
The park became an established music venue. Notable events have included:
It was the site of a comeback concert by the Sex Pistols during their 1996 Filthy Lucre Tour.
In 1992 at the Madstock concert, Morrissey was heckled off stage by the crowd after performing his song "National Front Disco". Many fans took exception to the song as they believed that it had a pro-racism message, and Morrissey himself was seen on stage flailing a Union Jack, which is often used by far-right groups.
In spring 2007, Groove Armada filmed their music video for the song Song 4 Mutya featuring Mutya Buena at the park.
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