Book Review: The Story of Queen’s Park: Latest Magazine

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Latest Magazine
Mathew Hall
30 June 2009

Brighton Town Press have released another enlightening publication, entitled The Story of Queen’s Park

Unsurprisingly, this new book is concerned with the history of Queen’s Park and was inspired by a booklet which was written by the Friends of Queen’s Park in 1994. While this booklet was, and still is, informative, it was felt that it was perhaps time to bring the story of Queen’s Park up to date.

In addition to this, it also further examines the history of the park, starting from the moment John Armstrong first acquired the land in1824. Soon after this, Thomas Attree purchased the land, intending it to be used as a private garden for villas which would eventually encircle it. The first villa built was his own, and Charles Barry, who later designed the Houses of Parliament, was commissioned to design it. Unfortunately for Attree, only one other villa was built and so the scheme was abandoned. Despite this, the garden remained private, only accessible to those who were invited, although the public were occasionally given leave to enter on certain special occasions. It would not be until 1892 that the grounds were opened to the public all year round.

As with all Brighton Town Press books, The Story of Queen’s Park is not only concerned with the place itself, but also the people who lived there. In this case they were few in number but the book still discusses the Attree family in some detail.

The Story of Queen’s Park aims to put the design of Queen’s Park in the context of other parks from the same era, delving deeply into its history to identify the reasons for its creation and design. This is achieved not only through text but also through images, as the book is beautifully illustrated throughout, using etches, sketches, paintings and photographs to help visualise its transition through the years. One need only look at the alluring water colour on the front cover, which represents what could have been had Attree achieved his goal of villas surrounding the park, to realise the wealth of history contained within this wonderful tome.

The Story of Queen’s Park, Brighton Town Press, £9.99 from all good bookshops including Books for Amnesty, 15 Sydney Street, Brighton. Or order direct from Brighton Town Press, 10 Clermont Road, Brighton, BN1 6SG. Cheques for £11.99 (including postage and packing) payable to Brighton Town Press.

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