One of our favourite places of anywhere is Clissold Park.
It is a longer walk than usual, about 2 miles to get there, but it is one of the most magical parks in the land.
First, it’s huge at 55.8 acres, so the zoomies are epic. And it’s full of little neighbourhoods of ducks, and geese, and swans, and terrapins, and quails, and deer, and rabbits, and goats, and squirrels. And, of course, it includes parts of the New River, and we love the New River.
And for those of you who have trouble keeping the humans entertained, there is plenty
for them too, including a café in Clissold House that serves delicious coffee and cakes. Or you could just leave the humans in the butterfly house while you go off and do zoomies.
Clissold Park has a very wonderful history. It was originally a big estate for Jonathan Hoare who was an anti-slavery campaigner. His brother was Samuel Hoare, a very important man who was one of the founders of the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade in 1787.
Jonathan’s House was originally called Paradise House, not Clissold House. But he ran into financial difficulties and it changed hands a few times and ultimately landed with William Crawshay whose daughter Eliza was being courted by the Reverend Augustus Clissold. William wasn’t too fond of Augustus and did not want them to get married, but then he died in 1834 and so they got married and Augustus took over Paradise House as well. Augustus renamed it after himself, but the couple had no children and after he died in 1882 it went back to the Crawshay family and they decided to sell. Some people from the Church of England (called Ecclesiastical Commissioners) bought it, hoping to make some money by building lots of houses on all
the space. Luckily, two local politicians, Joseph Beck and John Runtz thought it should be turned into a public park. They founded the Clissold Park Preservation Committee and they managed to persuade the Metropolitan Board of Works to buy the park “for the recreation of the public for ever”. And the two lakes that you often see in our pictures are named after these two wonderful people – so they are called The Beckmere (to the west) and The Runtzmere (to the east).
Clissold house, where they serve all the lovely teas and coffees and cakes, is a Grade II listed building, which means it cannot be demolished or changed unless you have special permission. But in 1991 Clissold House was actually in such disrepair it was
put on the “Heritage at Risk Register” by English Heritage as being an at risk historic building. But in 2007 the park got a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to restore the house and all the gardens to their 18th-century former glory. I think they call it an English landscape garden … I think because it’s English and there is landscape. I’m told that English gardens contain Romantic elements … which seems to be true of Clissold because many many individuals have fallen in love with Huw there. And did you know that the English landscape garden is where the term “landscape gardener” comes from? No? Well, neither did I. And I am a gifted landscape gardener. Anyway, in 2012, when all the work was completed, Clissold House was taken off the list because it was now beautifully restored.
Clissold Park even has its own song, “Clissold Park”, by a London band called The Chap. The key information in the song is that every day the singer will go jogging in Clissold Park. Sometimes joggers run over me when I am sniffing in the wooded track. Maybe one of these joggers is from The Chap!
I don’t really understand jogging though. Apparently it is a kind of running slowly. This makes no sense whatsoever to me. Why jog when you can zoom?! Some people we know call it running. I think this is really just a re-branding because it still looks like jogging to me.
We don’t do much jogging. But we do have a workout routine that, more often than not, we always follow. We basically arrive, zoom around and around and around, and then check some messages at some of the key logs (the ones with all the likes and follows). And then we go to the water fountain (which was built in 1890 and dedicated to Joseph Beck and John Runtz) and get disappointed (it still hasn’t been fixed and it’s been broken for what seems like a year even though I’ve only been here since August!). And then Aubrey checks for the squirrel (they have a long-term friendship). And then we zoom around and around and around another green spot. And then we check all the hedges around one of the play parks (Human thinks we are looking for pee spots and squirrels, but we are actually checking for paparazzi). And then we go across the little bridge (we do not jump in the stream) and zoom around and around and around the main playing field. And then we cross another of the little roads in the park and go up to another one of the popular logs and check all the comments. And then we get to the second playing field and we zoom around and around and around. And then we visit our favourite tree and sniff and comment. And then we are at the lakes. Sometimes we turn left, and sometimes we turn right. More often than not we turn left because we love to run through the nature track inside the wilderness area. It is such an exciting place and there are plenty of logs for Aubrey to jump on. And most of the joggers smile at me before they run me over. And then we go around the second lake (Runtzmere) and that’s when we go into the Enchanted Forest. Now that is a truly wonderful place.
One time, in the Enchanted Forest, Aubrey went in and there were some children playing. And one of the children screamed, eek, it’s a ghost! But he was teasing his friends. Aubrey was in on the joke with him. And his friends went screaming out of the Forest. And Aubrey and his pal had a great laugh. They soon discovered that Aubrey is in fact a sheepdog and not a ghost dog.
And another time, in the Enchanted Forest, we were all in there with Human, playing, and Jeff and Huw and Human and I went out of the Forest into the open field. But Aubrey and Deputy were still in the Enchanted Forest. Then Aubrey came out and joined us. But still
no sign of Deputy. And then the bushes started rustling. And Jeff starting running backwards (he’s so brave), like one of those toy cars that winds up before zooming off. And he barked ferociously (really, really not). And then Deputy emerged! Jeff still barked at Deputy to make sure. But it turned out that Deputy hadn’t found the path out and was trying to find his way out of the Enchanted Forest action hero style, like The Rock in Welcome To The Jungle (really, really not). We all laughed at Deputy a lot. Except Jeff, who barked.
Clissold Park is so big and beautiful. But what I love about Clissold Park is the friendships. I have made so many new friends. It is just as the wonderful Joseph Beck said: “thousands and tens of thousands of our fellow beings will issue to enjoy the sweet breezes and lie under the shade of the old and handsome trees of Clissold Park. It will be on the soft grass that the little ones will romp and play and learn the charm of getting for a short time under the benignant influence of bright sunshine and fresh air.”
He could easily have been talking about me … and all my doggy pals. We come to Clissold in our thousands. Well, it feels like it anyway.
Dear Clissold, the most beautiful park in all my world.
Categories: Howard's Endz