Queen Mary's Park

Past and Present

Queen Mary's Past

Past - Queen Mary's HospitalWhere it all began

Queen Mary's Past

Present - Queen Mary's ParkA quiet place to relax or play


For those of you that are not aware Queen Mary's Park stands on the grounds of what was one of the largest hospitals in the Europe. Purchased by what was then the Metropolitan Asylums Board (MAB) the 136 acre site in 1896. It was then known as the ‘Southern Hospital’.

Queen Mary & Princess Mary
Buildings were constructed for this by 1908 but in September of that year the MAB was also given responsibilities to looking after the care of ‘sick, convalescent or debilitated children’.

The Children’s Infirmary opened in 1909, with 1000 beds and a staff of 300. The young patients were accommodated in single storey buildings.

In 1914, following the accession of King George the Fifth and Queen Mary to the throne, and the visit of the new King & Queen to the hospital, the Queen agreed to be its patron. So in 1915 the hospital was renamed the Queen Mary’s Hospital for Children. Shown in the photograph is Queen Mary (1867-1953), grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II.

Ward blocks or ‘cottages’, were arranged in 24 pairs of U-shaped single-storey buildings, arranged in three echelons. Each group of four cottages was accompanied by a staff house.
Queen Mary's Hospital Map
Two blocks for surgical cases were at the south of the site. MAB also established its first Nursing Training School at the Infirmary. The administrative block was at the north of the site, near the entrance, together with the porter’s lodge, staff accommodation, kitchens and laundry.

In 1926 it began to admit children with rheumatic fever, a common disease at the time which caused joint pains and structural heart disease. The Hospital was extended during 1928-1930 at the cost of £207,600 (around £35m in today’s money). Two new ward blocks and four staff blocks were added, as well as a block with a kitchen and dining room. By then 350 children were being treated for rheumatic diseases, as well as 500 children with non-pulmonary tuberculosis (TB), that is, of the bones and joints (mainly affecting the spine, hip and knee), and abdominal and other organs.
Queen Mary's Hospital 1914

During WW2 the Hospital was one of the most heavily bombed in London, perhaps due to its location and possibly as it looked quite like a military base. It was decided to evacuate the children in 1944 because of the new threats posed by the V1 flying bombs and V2 rockets.

After the Second World War the Hospital re-opened, but war damage to the buildings had reduced the numbers of beds from 1284 to 840. It joined the NHS in 1948. The introduction of Streptomycin and other antibiotics enabled better and faster treatment of Tuberculosis; the Hospital began to provide care for children with polio and cerebral palsy. By 1959 it was caring for children with special needs. When the mentally handicapped children were transferred from the run-down Fountain Hospital, it became the first fully comprehensive children’s hospital in the UK, treating both physically and mentally sick children on one site.

By the late 1970s it was the largest children’s hospital in Europe. As most of its patients were in long-stay care, it had its own school.
The Chapel
It even had a swimming pool, tennis courts, zoo and a miniature railway – a few pieces of the small gauge track can still be seen in the grounds today. A medical engineering unit opened on the site. It provided specific aids and instruments for physically handicapped children to enable them to become more mobile and to enjoy indoor and outdoor activities.

With improvement in medical treatments and subsequent reduction in admissions, and a change in political ethos about patients kept in long-stay hospitals, the Hospital became redundant.
Monkey Puzzle Tree
By 1989 it had only 132 beds for acute patients and 201 for those with mentally handicap. The Hospital closed in 1993 and the services were transferred to St Helier Hospital.

The chapel remains externally as it was for the last century and has now been converted into the local Busy Bees Nursery.

The eastern part of the hospital site was redeveloped for residential use at the turn of the millennium in 1999-2000 and the remainder of the properties (e.g. administrative block, last remaining ward blocks) were demolished in 2011 to make way for further residential properties and the move of Stanley Park School, now Oaks Park School, to the site.

To the rear of the development is the settlement and fort dating back to 2,800 B.C. (Bronze Age) which is a significant historical interest and registered with English Heritage.

A board explaining some further history of the area is found in front of the Araucaria araucana / monkey puzzle tree which originated from Chile. This tree in itself is of some interest as in early 2013 the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has moved it onto the endangered list. The Friends of Queen Mary’s Park committee is there to help protect the beautiful park we can all enjoy and if some of you have not had the chance to walk around the area we urge you to do so.

Recent Research / Excavations into Ancient History

Archaeological Excavation 1
In 2008 before the construction phases of both Stanley Park school and the third and fourth phases of our new homes Wessex Archaeology was commissioned to undertake a programme of archaeological works.

These excavations identified further evidence of substantial Late Iron Age / Early Romano-British enclosed farmsteads. Three phases of the enclosure were identified all dating from the same period.

Archaeological Excavation 2
A large number of deep storage pits were recorded, many of which had been infilled rapidly, and incorporating placed deposits. Animal burials were excavated from within the pits, many of which were deliberately deposited. Three human neonate burials were also placed within such pits. Multiple animal burials: two dogs, one horse, and one cow!

One pit in particular contained very large numbers of animals including the remains of over 25 individual sheep/goat carcasses deposited as a single layer, with additional complete skeletons of dogs, chickens and a raven.

The burial of animals in pits is known to have been commonplace in Iron Age Britain and forms part of a tradition of making offerings to the Gods of the underworld.

Archaeological Excavation 3
These pits were probably originally dug to store grain through the Winter before being sown in the Spring. When the pits were no longer required it is believed that the farmers buried valuable things in them and it seems likely that these animals were probably sacrificed.

As well as these more recent history finds further Bronze Age remains have been found. Small gullies, perhaps as field boundaries, and what may be droveways for cattle may be associated with original fort.

The features also revealed evidence for domestic, subsistence and industrial activities including spinning and weaving, sheep husbandry and metalworking. Middle Iron Age spearhead, pot and vessel.

A small number of earlier prehistoric features were also identified, comprising a Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age trackway, some pits and postholes distributed across the excavation area. These features can be interpreted as relating to peripheral activities associated with a large Late Bronze Age ring work, which lies 60m to the south of the excavation area and was likely to be the focus of settlement during this earlier phase.

A fuller report is available from https://www.layersoflondon.org/


Kenny Drive, Carshalton, SM5 4PH

Queen Mary's Park View
The Carshalton site for Queen Mary’s Hospital for Children was chosen 100 years ago for the clean air, sunny disposition and open views of the countryside, qualities that, thanks to closely guarded green belt restrictions, remain today. Hospital services were moved to the St Helier site in the late 1990’s and the Health Trust sold part of the site for housing development. Planning restrictions only allowed building on an area equal to the hospital buildings that were demolished. As part of the conditions for obtaining planning permission, nearly 30 acres of fields and woodland had to be given to the council to be set aside for local residents, to form what was described as a “quiet, natural park”. This includes an area where the miniature railway used to run and Bronze Age archaeological site
Queen Mary's Park View
is situated in the vicinity of the monkey puzzle tree.

The park has a beautiful avenue of mature trees, open vistas to the downlands with natural and cut grassland and walking and cycling paths. Much clearance and tidying up has taken place under the supervision of the LBS Parks Department (as finances will allow), and care of the trees and shrubs continues.

Queen Mary's Park View
In 2007 a group of local residents and Park users got together to form the Friends of Queen Mary’s Park. The group has been responsible for overseeing many improvements to the Park, including a “Dog Free” area, park benches and bins, spring bulb planting and general tidying up and maintenance. The Friends of Queen Mary’s Park meets regularly throughout the year to discuss issues facing the park and its surrounding area. In July 2023 the park was awarded a prestigeous Green Flag®

Green Flag Award
Queen Mary's Park is well worth a visit. If you have never been, access is from the top of Fountain Drive or Stanley Road, through Kenny Drive and past the old Chapel building which is now Busy Bees Day Nursery. The nearest postcode is SM5 4PH. Leave your car and simply follow the sun southwards. The views and fresh air will be your reward.

Here are a couple of links to interesting videos showing the Park as it used to be:
Queen Mary's Miniature Railway by Brian Jones - Some parts of the track can still be seen.
Summer Events In Carshalton by Ray Liffen - The Queen Mary's Fete was always a highlight of the Carshalton calender.