This huge park has everything – tennis courts and basketball courts, a skatepark, playground, huge ponds, sports pitches, an aviary and enclosures for deer and goats.
The New River runs through the park and is teeming with wildlife and there are lovely wooded walks around parts of the park perimeter. Everyone is welcome in Clissold Park and there are some dedicated dog-free spaces. There’s also a gorgeous café.
A new splash pad water park for children is expected to open in the summer of 2022.
Clissold Park has held a prestigious Green Flag Award since 2006 and is at the centre of community life in Stoke Newington.
Joseph Beck - local hero
Joseph Beck is something of a local legend – he’s the reason Clissold Park exists!
When the 53-acre land the park now stands on was put up for sale for £95,000 (£11 million in today’s money), Mr Beck and his friend John Runtz launched a desperate campaign to save it.
Beck, an optical and microscope manufacturer, dreamed children would be able to: “take their first steps on the grass of Clissold Park and one day play under the sun.”
Their four-year campaign to urge locals and authorities to buy the land sparked furious rows. Some said the park was a ‘swamp’ and not worth saving.
The campaign led to the creation of The Clissold Park Preservation Committee – they brought a Private Bill to Parliament to enable adjoining parishes of Islington, Hackney and South Hornsey to help buy the land, together with a massive £72,500 donation from the Charity Commissioners and Metropolitan Board of Works.
The park was saved! Its official opening took place on July 24th, 1889 – tragically Mr Beck died of cancer of the tongue two years later.
Local historian Amir Dotan created a website telling Joseph’s story www.savingclissoldpark.com
Clissold House and the land surrounding it was built and landscaped in the 1790s for Quaker, city merchant and anti-slavery campaigner Jonathan Hoare. In those days Stoke Newington was a rural village with big houses and large gardens. It later passed on to the Crawshaw family (wealthy ironmongers from Yorkshire).
When the industrial revolution happened in the 1800s Stoke Newington was transformed – green space began to get swallowed up terraced houses and streets. By the 1860s the park was the last big open space and a campaign by local people saved the land from developers.
Today the house is home to the lovely Park Life Cafe offering breakfast, lunch and hot drinks. Local Buyers Club members save 10%.
Other rooms in the house are used regularly for community classes and events.