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Coronation Gardens is on a site that was part of the lands of the old manor of Ruckholt, first recorded in c.1284 as Rocholte Hall, and later associated with the family of Sir Michael Hickes who was secretary to Queen Elizabeth I's leading courtier, William Cecil, Lord Burleigh. Hickes came to the manor in 1594 through his wife Elizabeth's inheritance and is known to have laid out gardens, including a bowling green; he would have known of Tudor garden style through his association with the Cecils and with Sir Francis Bacon whose essay 'On Gardening' was very influential at the time. There is a monument to the Hickes family in St Mary's Church in Leyton (q.v.). During most of the Victorian era this area of Leyton, and in all likelihood the Coronation Gardens site, was largely watercress beds.
In 1897 Leyton Council negotiated to purchase a rectangular site for a recreation ground from the estate of Earl Cowley, the then owners. Its laying out as a park, however, took some years to complete. In 1897 it was proposed that a drinking fountain be erected in the recreation ground to commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee but plans were not finally submitted until 1899; this was in situ by May 1901, provided by Messrs. Doulton of Lambeth at a cost of £140. Later the same year a landscape gardener, W J Stuckey was commissioned to design and prepare plans for an ornamental layout, and agreement was also given to secure costings for a bandstand. Finally in January 1903 the Local Government Board sanctioned the loan of £1,000 to enable the recreation ground to be laid out with gravel walks, grass plots and shrubberies, modelled on East Ham's Central Park (q.v.) with formal bedding displays that survive in a simplified form. It was also stipulated that the work should as far as possible provide employment for local people and as a consequence 50 - 60 unemployed men were taken on, and a Foreman Gardener appointed to supervise the works. The Metropolitan Public Gardens Association provided 12 seats, and the new park was formally opened on 23rd May 1903 by the Chair of the Open Spaces Committee, followed by a programme of music. The go-ahead for a bandstand was given in 1904 and Messrs. W Macfarlane & Co's Design No. 287 was erected at a cost of £450, an octagonal structure of cast iron and wood, with a further £60 for the surrounding rockwork. The park was a popular venue for events, with band concerts held on Thursdays and alternate Sundays.
Although during World War II the park closed earlier than previously, it continued to provide entertainment for the morale of local people and in 1943 and 1944 CEMA presented Shakespeare here. The ARP post still stands in the park, near the bandstand. On 23rd September 1922 the Lord Lieutenant of Essex unveiled a War Memorial Fountain near the entrance from the High Road and in October 1945 a garden of remembrance with a memorial tablet in Cornish granite was unveiled. Major peace celebrations were held in the park in June 1946. A Cypress oak was planted on 12th May 1957 between the garden of remembrance and hedged off from the rose gardens onto Oliver Road to mark the Jubilee of Scouting and the centenary of the birth of its founder, Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell. During the 1950s and '60s Coronation Gardens and the Coronation Gardens Extension (q.v.), which was created in the 1920s, continued to be the venue for a wide range of entertainment, including the Leyton Show, as well as popular and traditional music.
By the late 1970s the bandstand was in poor repair but it has recently been restored, as has the fountain, which was restored in c.2000. Coronation Gardens remain enclosed by C19th iron railings, with the centrally sited bandstand and the original layout of intersecting figure-of-eight and perimeter paths, now asphalted, survive. The remembrance garden at the eastern end has a curved brick pergola amongst formal beds of different shapes, and at the western end is the restored fountain and terraced area with seats. The park's perimeter beds have shrubs and trees, with the central area laid out with grass, mature trees including London planes, and there is now a maze in the park. The park has won the Green Flag Award, most recently in 2011.
Nigel Sadler,' A Brief History of the Site & Park', LB Waltham Forest Vestry House Museum (no date); Victoria County History of Essex; Arthur Mee 'The King's England: London North of the Thames except the City and Westminster', (Hodder & Stoughton, 1972).