|Tower Gardens Recreation Ground, White Hart Lane Estate||Haringey|
Tower Gardens Recreation Ground formed an important part of the pre WW1 phase of the LCC's 'cottage estate' at White Hart Lane. A gift of £10,000 from Lord Montagu enabled the estate to be developed at a lower density with space reserved for the public garden. Enclosed by brick walls, Tower Gardens was laid out to a formal design, with perimeter trees and shrubs and a perimeter walk with a balustrade from which curved steps led down to the central grass area. The formal layout was later superseded by more informal landscaping, with a playground at the west end.
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The White Hart Lane Estate was one of several early LCC cottage estates built under the Housing of the Working Classes Act 1890, and was initially designed to house 33,000 people. The decision to purchase the 225 acre site was taken in 1901 at which time this area was largely fields on the edges of London. The LCC initially purchased 179 acres, and by 1910 48 acres had been laid out. The southern part of the estate between Tower Gardens and Risley Avenue was developed c.1905-15 to designs by W E Riley, the LCC's architect, and is also known as Tower Gardens Garden Suburb.
The provision of the public open space that is now known as Tower Gardens Recreation Ground and the generous private gardens on the estate was made possible through the gift of Sir Samuel Montagu (1832-1911), a wealthy banker and philanthropist. He was raised to the peerage as Baron Swaythling in 1907, having become a Baronet in 1894, and was Liberal MP for Whitechapel from 1885-1900. He was also a key instigator in the formation of the Federation of Synagogues in 1887, an umbrella organisation for the many small Orthodox congregations in East London. Equally concerned about the need to alleviate overcrowding in his constituency and keen to encourage families to move to the suburbs, Montagu had initially proposed the building of a housing scheme of some 700 dwellings on a 25-acre site in Edmonton, which were to have low rents and to include small gardens, with preference to be given to dwellers in Whitechapel. He offered this project to Edmonton UDC and the LCC, but when it was rejected in 1899 Montagu then donated £10,000 towards the LCC's new White Hart Lane Estate in Tottenham.
The public gardens at Tower Gardens were laid out to a formal design and had an impressive neo-Georgian entrance. Enclosed by brick walls, there was a perimeter border for trees and shrubs, and a perimeter walk with a brick balustrade from which four sets of curved steps, one on each side, led down to the central grass recreation area. There were also seats, a fountain and a drinking fountain. In later years the formal design has been entirely obliterated and the gardens are now dominated by the playground at the west end. Although the ornamental iron gates and brick piers topped by stone balls remain, there is no sign of the fountain or drinking fountain. The ground has been re-landscaped into undulations with informal shrub planting and a series of interconnecting circular raised beds near a flagpole just inside the entrance. The perimeter trees on the north, east and west sides are alternate London plane and lime trees, and may date from the original planting.
English Heritage Primary Research File HAR 14; Robert Thorne, 'The White Hart Lane Estate: An LCC Venture in Suburban Development', London Journal, summer 1986 pp 80-88