Historic Heritage

Our project will focus on the historic and natural heritage of Knights Hill Wood and Tivoli Park. The two small sites are next to each other separated only by Knights Hill road and both are owned and managed by the London Borough of Lambeth.

Brief history of sites
Knights Hill is named after the Knight family who owned land in this area in the 16th century.

Tivoli Park with its popular children’s playground, games court and a new water feature designed to control natural spring waters, has a rich and interesting history, and lies on land which once belonged to one of Lambeth’s most notable families. The name ‘Knight’s Hill’ is first recorded as far back as 1545 and the nearby road may date to the 16th Century.

Formerly called Knights Hill Recreation Ground, Tivoli Park historically has connections with the Maudslay engineering family who lived nearby and it was once part of the grounds of the Maudslays’ house. It was purchased with involvement of the MPGA and has been saved from being sold off a number of times. In 1914 this new public space had been laid out and opened and was re-named Tivoli Park in 2010.

Knights Hill Wood is a small yet extremely valuable pocket of woodland in Lambeth, and as such helps to support local wildlife. The site is classed as a Local Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (Local SINC). It’s also an important landscape feature and educational resource for local schools and groups. It contains a good supply of dead wood and stumps, and important habitat for a wide range of insects. This includes the larvae of the Stag Beetle, Britain’s largest beetle, which live in decomposing wood for up to seven years, before emerging as an adult beetle in the summer. Woodland insects and fungi, provide food for birds like woodpeckers, blackbirds, robins and wrens, and wild mammals like woodmice and shrews.

Some very impressive trees dominate the wood, and particularly notable is a large Weymouth pine (Pinus strobes) which dates from the days of Portobello House. In the 19th century, this was part of the grounds of Portobello House, the driveway from which divided to pass either side of the wood before reaching the road. After Portobello House was demolished, Cedar House flats were built on the site in 1949.

The area encircled by the driveway became quite wild and overgrown, and after development plans for the site were defeated in the 1980s by opposition from residents and the London Wildlife Trust, the Trust took over management of Knights Hill Wood in 1989. The Trust opened up a circular path and added a boundary hedge, as well as planting other species to improve the diversity. Management of Knights Hill Wood reverted to Lambeth Parks & Greenspaces in 2002. It is the intention to declare the wood as a Local Nature Reserve in the near future.

Park sign & 2 benches & bench plaques for Tivoli Park

As part of the project a park sign & 2 bench plaques will be designed & text written by volunteers with final design to be approved by Lambeth Council, Heritage Lottery Fund staff & Friends of Tivoli Park. The text for the park sign & 2 bench plaques will researched by volunteers looking at the history of both sites including research sessions at Lambeth Archives.

Heritage training for project volunteers

Intro to Lambeth Archives training (2 hours)

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