History and Heritage

True paradises are the paradises we have lost” 

Marcel Proust

 

Britain has a fine history and tradition in the public open space sector, and there is an amazing variety of heritage features of interest to be found throughout the world's green spaces, with a great deal of cross-fertilisation of styles.

 

The first parks were associated with housing developments or created as commercial pleasure gardens, funded by entrance charges, exhibitions and events and were the forerunners of today’s public parks.

 

Examples such as Vauxhall Gardens, London (1660s and relaunched 1732) Sydney Gardens in Bath ( opened in 1795 and a favourite of Jane Austen),  and Manchester’s Royal Botanical Gardens (opened in 1831) were among the country’s first parks and hosted major events and national exhibitions and events, albeit at a charge.

 

The Victorian parks movement -which arose from concern for poor public health and social unrest and demanded free recreational green space for everyone -established the model of public green space as we know it today.

 

Early public parks were provided as a healthy alternative to the inns, taverns and gambling dens of the time, but they were designed mainly for strolling and admiring floral and gardenesque features or listening to music based around the bandstand.

 

By the 1880's sports facilities such as bowling greens, cricket grounds, 'gymnasia' and swimming pools were introduced and evolved into the mixed facility/ multi-purpose parks and recreation grounds we know today.

 

From the 1970s onwards, new styles of park emerged, largely influenced by the growing concern for environmental issues- the country park, linear parks, ecology parks and community parks.

 

This long history of green spaces, with their huge range of heritage features has contributed enormously to the quality of life and local culture throughout the world.

 

These provide a wonderful living record of each community’s historic, cultural and artistic development