Fairground rides, five-a-side, a place to hide: London’s parks and open spaces celebrated by City archives’ exhibition

A new exhibition that highlights the essential role played by London’s parks and open spaces will open next week on the site of the capital’s Roman amphitheatre and end its two-month run at the ancient woodland of Epping Forest.

From playgrounds and picnics to concerts and Sunday football kickabouts, Green City: A Visual History of London’s Parks and Open Spaces will celebrate green spaces and the way in which Londoners have embraced and enjoyed the ‘great outdoors’ since the sixteenth century.

As well as providing an escape, a place to relax or exercise in, and a habitat for wildlife, plants, and trees, Green City will also acknowledge the hugely important role played by London’s parks and open spaces during ‘lockdown’ at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Curated by the City of London Corporation’s London Metropolitan Archives in Clerkenwell, the exhibition brings together 100 photographs and prints from its collections – from the 1560s to the 1980s - to provide a unique record of these beautiful and varied spaces.

Opening on 18 July in the Square Mile’s Guildhall Yard, Green City will move to Aldgate Square (1 - 14 August) and then, Hampstead Heath (15 - 31 August) before a two-week run at The View in Epping Forest’s Visitor Centre (1 - 18 September).

Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Culture, Heritage, and Libraries Committee, Wendy Hyde, said:

“It feels entirely appropriate that an exhibition that celebrates the great outdoors is being held outdoors and, in common with previous exhibitions curated by London Metropolitan Archives, I am sure that it will be engaging, informative, and beautifully presented.

“Over the centuries, our parks and open spaces have played a variety of roles and have become very important to us, never more so than over the last two years, so ‘Green City’ will prove to be a fitting tribute to them.”

The City of London Corporation’s Head of Digital Services at London Metropolitan Archives, Laurence Ward, said:

“The sheer number of images of parks and open spaces preserved in our archives demonstrates the importance of green space to Londoners, and we enjoyed rising to the challenge of selecting 100 of our best historical photographs and prints.

“These images offer us an extraordinary glimpse of our Tudor, Georgian, and Victorian ancestors and the role that green spaces played in their lives - as a place for sport, art, entertainment, work, and relaxation.”

The City of London Corporation, which owns and manages London Metropolitan Archives, has launched ‘Destination City’, which will transform the Square Mile’s leisure offer, creating a leading destination for UK and international visitors, workers, and residents to enjoy.

With a £2.5 million annual investment from the City Corporation, ‘Destination City’ will drive the Square Mile’s recovery from the pandemic and deliver an exciting events programme, including outdoor festivals featuring music, art, education, sport, and wellness. The first of three major events is planned for this autumn.


Notes for Editors: 

NB: Head of Digital Services at the City of London Corporation’s London Metropolitan Archives, Laurence Ward, is available for media interviews. Please contact Andrew Buckingham (see below) for further details.

Green City: A Visual History of London’s Parks and Open Spaces will be presented at the following four locations:

18 July - 31 July Guildhall Yard, off Gresham Street, EC2V 5AE

1 August - 14 August Aldgate Square, Aldgate High St, London EC3N 1AF

15 August - 31 August Hampstead Heath, South End Green entrance to the Heath, close to Hampstead Heath Overground station, NW3 2PY

1 September - 18 September The View, Epping Forest Visitor Centre, 6 Ranger's Rd, London E4 7QH

For further information, media interviews, and high-resolution images from Green City: A Visual History of London’s Parks and Open Spaces, please contact:

Andrew Buckingham, Media Officer (Arts, Culture, and Heritage), City of London Corporation / 07795 333060 /

About the City of London Corporation: 

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK.

About London Metropolitan Archives:

London Metropolitan Archives is a public research centre, which specialises in the history of London. It cares for, and provides access to, the historical archives of businesses, schools, hospitals, charities, and a wide range of other organisations from the London area. With over 100 km of books, maps, photographs, films and documents dating back to 1067 in our strong rooms, it is proud to provide access to one of the finest city archives in the world - you could call it the memory of London. Many of its finest London pictures, photographs, prints, maps and films are also available to use online. See the Images and Film page for further information. For all the latest information on London Metropolitan Archives, including free exhibitions, workshops and other events, please visit