Finsbury Park

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Finsbury Park is a 110-acre (46-hectare) public park in the London Borough of Haringey.[1] Within the ward of the London neighbourhood of Harringay, Finsbury Park is in the area for centuries covered by the historic parish of Hornsey, succeeded by the Municipal Borough of Hornsey which are now, as with the Finsbury division of Middlesex from which it takes its name, generally associated with narrower areas beyond the park's boundaries. It was one of the first of the great London parks laid out in the Victorian era and served the whole of the Finsbury division which early developed into suburban and urban areas (based on the then discontinued Ossulstone hundred).


Avenue of mature trees, Finsbury Park

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.

The Parkland Walk, a linear park, starts here, and provides a pleasant, traffic free, pedestrian and cycle route with much of the feel of a country walk, that links the park with Crouch Hill Park, Crouch End, and Highgate tube station.

Sports facilities in the park include football pitches, a bowling green,[2] 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, 2009, 2010 and 2011 national champions London Blitz, and diamonds for softball and baseball, home to the 2007 and 2008 national champions the 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.

As a result of spending cuts following the 2008 economic crisis, a management plan for the park was published to cover the 2013 - 2016 period.[3]

London districts (large neighbourhoods) bordering the park are:

Electorally it is the Harringay ward.[4]


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 called Hornsey Wood that was cut further and further back for use as grazing land during the Middle Ages. In the mid-18th century a tea room had opened on the knoll of land on which Finsbury Park is situated. Londoners would travel north to escape the smoke of the capital and enjoy the last 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. 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. This pub was later renamed the Alexandra Dining Room and closed for business in April 2007. It was subsequently demolished.

Creation of the park

Sunset in Finsbury Park

During the early part of the second quarter of the 19th 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 7 August 1869. Although the park's name was taken from the area where the 19th 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.

20th century to present

The City from Finsbury Park

Through the late 19th century and early 20th century the park was a respectable and beautifully manicured space for people to relax and exercise. By the early 20th century, it was also becoming a venue for political meetings including pacifist campaigns during the First World War. During the Second World War, it hosted anti-aircraft guns and was one of the gathering points for heavy armour prior to the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944.

Despite decline during the 1970s, recent lottery funding has enabled something of a renaissance in the park's fortunes. It is now a very pleasant north London park, containing tennis courts, a running track, an occasional art gallery, a softball field and many open spaces for various leisure activities. It is also one of the most diverse places in London, with many different communities making use of the facilities.


The park and music

The park became an established music venue. Notable events have included:

  • 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.[citation needed]
  • 1993, 12 June: Bob Dylan kicked off his 1993 European Tour, with a performance at the park.
Mackenzie Garden, Finsbury Park

Friends of Finsbury Park

A summer evening in Finsbury Park

The Friends of Finsbury Park, founded in 1986, published a history of the park and organise a range of environmental and arts activities in the park. They have produced a Vision for Finsbury Park supported by many local people and community groups.[7]

Nearest tube and railway stations


  1. Finsbury Park Management Plan 2007 – 2011
  2. Finsbury Park Bowls Club
  3. Finsbury Park Management Plan 2013 - 2014
  4. Ward boundaries classify the park as being within Harringay Ward - Haringey Council Map showing the ward boundaries.
  5. Much of this section owes thanks to Hayes, Hugh (2001), A Park for Finsbury, Friends of Finsbury Park, ISBN 0-9540637-0-8<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. The Gorge website
  7. Friends of Finsbury Park Facebook page

External links