Sussex Place in the background of the Regent's Park Lake. Paul Rabbitt / Amberley Publishing /

By Liana Jacob

BRITAIN’S MOST magnificent parks and their designers have been showcased in a new book illustrating their history.

The colour photographs show the stunning architectures of Sussex Place and Regent’s Park in London.

The Avenue Gardens, Regent’s Park. Paul Rabbitt / Amberley Publishing /


Other vintage photographs show Victoria Park in Portsmouth, designed by Alexander McKenzie, which was officially opened on May 25, 1878. By 1898, the park had 32 cricket pitches and 37 lawn tennis courts.

Further images reveal the original view of Gloucester Gate and St Katherine’s Hospital, London in 1829.

A portrait of the Scottish botanist, garden designer and cemetery designer, John Claudius Loudon, is also shown.

Victoria Park, Portsmouth, designed by Alexander McKenzie. Paul Rabbitt / Amberley Publishing /


The photographs are part of a book, Great Parks, Great Designers by landscape architect, Paul Rabbitts. It is published by Amberley Publishing.

“The history of public parks has been well documented over recent years, with the advent of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s ‘Urban Parks Programme’ and ‘Parks for People’ funded restoration works,” Paul said.

“Yet, surprisingly, very little is known about many of them. Certainly, Joseph Paxton, John Nash and James Pennethorne are well-documented, as are later park designers, including Thomas H Mawson, but not much is known about many others. This book is an attempt to fill this gap of knowledge.”

Crystal Palace Park, in its heyday. Paul Rabbitt / Amberley Publishing /


Between 1809 and 1832, John Nash was commissioned by Prince Regent, otherwise known as King George VI, to develop Regent’s Park in London, which was also appropriated by Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

“The most important influence on landscape design at the beginning of the nineteenth century was Humphry Repton,” Paul said.

“His theories were to influence John Nash in his revised designs for Regent’s Park, and his ideas were developed further well into the nineteenth century by John Claudius Loudon.

“Many of Repton’s principles were influential in early public park design, inclusing these those concerning picturesque beauty, variety, novelty, contrast, appropriation and animation.”

The Wellington Arch. Paul Rabbitt / Amberley Publishing /


Great Parks, Great Designers is published by Amberley Publishing and is available here: