Gillian Darley

No Running, No Cycling, No Ball Games…

A Walk in the Park: The Life and Times of a People’s Institution

By

Jonathan Cape 373pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

A walk in the park with Travis Elborough is fast-paced and richly peopled. This book is the story of the communal and the individual, of the transgressor and the good citizen, of earth, turf and concrete. It is, he confesses, ‘underscored by my foibles and preoccupations’. And what could be more agreeable?

After a quick preamble dealing with autocrats and royalty, villages obliterated for deer hunts, naughty Thames-side pleasure gardens and Edwardian cod spiritualism at Versailles, Elborough settles down in the long 19th century. He unashamedly lingers over heroic figures, none of whom was more prolific or given to multitasking, both on the page and on the ground, than John Claudius Loudon, whose first effort at designing a park occurred in Gravesend. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Her favourite design included a body in the shape of a horse, with a steam engine inside ... The passenger would t… ,
    • Sign up to our email newsletter below! Get free articles, highlights from the archive, and chances to win theatre… ,
    • RT : Founded in 1979, is a trusted independent source for reviews of new books across a variety of genres. A… ,
    • RT : Here we are - "Shelf Indulgence" by Ed Potten, a wonderful read, well worth your time: @Lit_Review,
    • 'Like going to a party hoping to get away as quickly as politeness allowed and at 4am finding myself still engrosse… ,
    • 'Neville never shed his sense of being the junior, and perhaps least-deserving Chamberlain.' From the archive, Mic… ,
    • 'The erecting and immediate destruction of a series of straw men rather detracts from what is for the most part an… ,