Danson Park lies between Welling and Bexleyheath in the London Borough of Bexley, Southeast London. At 78 hectares, it is the second largest public park in the London Borough of Bexley (the largest being Foots Cray Meadows at 100 hectares.) The landscape was designed and laid out by Nathaniel Richmond, assistant to Capability Brown from 1761 to 1763. At its centre is a picturesque 7.8 hectare lake to the south of Danson House. The Danson Stables public house is also located in the park. The Boathouse (function suite and restaurant) is near the lake. It is possible to walk around the park on a path, but a shorter route takes you across grass which can be a bit muddy in wet weather.
The main feature is the Mansion House. The name Danson wasn’t recorded until c.1762, when sugar merchant John Boyd commissioned the construction of a “crystalline villa”. The villa was designed by Robert Taylor, one of the architects of the Bank of England, and its grounds were landscaped in the style of Capability Brown. Danson House was originally flanked by free-standing pavilions, which were demolished around 1800, when the present stable block was built. In 1881 Alfred Bean – then owner of the Danson estate – began to develop the neighbouring suburb of Welling. Bean died in 1890 but his widow survived for another 31 years, whereupon the Danson estate was divided into lots and sold. Bexley council bought the mansion and 224 acres of parkland for £15,000 in 1924 and spent another £3,500 converting the park for public use. The remainder of the estate was sporadically developed for housing over a period of nearly 15 years with a variety of styles and sizes ranging from semi-detached bungalows to mock-Tudor mansions, plus a handful of modernist villas which can be seen along Danson Road. Post-war change in the Danson locality has mostly been limited to the improvement and enlargement of existing properties.
In the early years of the 21st century Danson House was restored from a state of near ruin by leaseholders English Heritage, while the stable block was converted to a pub and restaurant. The grade I listed mansion was then entrusted to the care of Bexley Heritage Trust, which organised exhibitions and a variety of events here. Dismally, the London Borough of Bexley revoked its grant to the heritage trust from the start of the 2016 financial year. The trust consequently felt obliged to withdraw from the management of Danson House (in order to concentrate on Hall Place and Gardens), with the council taking direct control and making the house the borough’s Register Office, while also opening it to the public on selected days.
The "English Garden" has been severely neglected and a shadow of its former self, once a well kept area in the 1950s and subsequent decades.
There is a unkempt rock garden and at the lowest end, a "bog garden" home to nature conservation - meaning its undisturbed most of the year and gets overgrown.
Keywords:Bexley, Danson, park, recreation, walk
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