Heritage Category:
Park and Garden
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Location Description:
Statutory Address:
Stanley Park, Liverpool


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Statutory Address:
Stanley Park, Liverpool

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
Liverpool (Metropolitan Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
SJ 36196 93581


Public park designed in 1867 by Edward Kemp and opened in 1870, with architectural features by E R Robson.

Reasons for Designation

Stanley Park, laid out in 1867-70, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * Designer: it was designed by the nationally renowned landscape designer, Edward Kemp and is one of his major works, forming part of an important chain of late-C19 parks in Liverpool, which also includes the Grade II* registered Prince's Park (1842 by Joseph Paxton) and Sefton Park (1867-72 by Edouard Andre), and the Grade II registered Newsham Park (1864-8 and also by Kemp) and Wavertree Botanic Garden and Park (1836 & 1856) * Landscaping: Stanley Park's design represents a distillation of Kemp's gardening theory in creating three separate but complementary zones that maximise the natural topography of the site and are linked by sinuous paths and key views - a formal landscape at the top of the park, an informal middle ground intended as a neutral foil, and a picturesque landscape incorporating a large lake * Intactness: the major elements of Kemp's original design survive or have been successfully restored, and remain clearly legible * Architecture: Stanley Park's design reflects Kemp's change in philosophy from the late 1850s onwards where he integrated architecture with the landscape. The park contains numerous listed structures and buildings by the notable architect, E R Robson, including bridges spanning the lake and a top walk with a series of Gothic pavilions and a high screen wall, as well as the Isla Gladstone Conservatory by Mackenzie & Moncur of Edinburgh and a bandstand by M Macfarlane & Co of Glasgow * Socio-historic interest: Stanley Park is an early example of a true public park, with its design being tailored to meet the needs of the local working-class population * Sporting interest: the park's large areas of open grassland reflect the wider sporting history of the working classes in being expressly designed to provide space for football and other contact sports, rather than the tennis and cricket of most other parks of the period, which catered primarily for the middle classes * Group value: it has a strong historic, visual, and physical relationship with the neighbouring Grade II* registered Anfield Cemetery (opened 1863), which was also designed by Kemp


The idea for a chain of boulevards and parks around the City of Liverpool was first proposed during the 1850s but the Corporation did not begin acquiring land for the purpose until the 1860s. Stanley Park was formed from one of three parcels of land bought by the Corporation at that time; the others becoming Sefton Park (by Lewis Hornblower and Edouard Andre, 1867-72, Grade II* registered) and Newsham Park (by Edward Kemp, 1864-8, Grade II registered).

Stanley Park was designed by Edward Kemp (1817-91) in 1867 and was laid out in 1867-70. It was named after Lord Stanley of Preston, a former Lord Mayor of Liverpool. The park's original architectural features were designed by the Corporation Surveyor, E R Robson (1835-1917) and the total cost, including the purchase of the land and the costs of the architectural features, was £154,398. Plots of land to the south of the park were sold off for housing in order to fund the project. The opening of the park in May 1870 attracted 25-30,000 people and was recorded in the Illustrated London News.

The park consisted of three main areas: a formal terraced area, an informal 'middle ground' and a 'picturesque' area containing a lake. A fourth area characterised mainly of open grassland to the south-east end of the park was provided for sports. The lake was originally ornamental but in 1900-10 boating was introduced. In the late C19/early C20 the eastern section of the lake was drained and turned into a sunken garden, and in the early-to-mid C20 the north-east section of the lake was also drained and landscaped. In 1923 two swimming pools were created in part of the lake, and these remained in use until August 1960 when they closed and were subsequently demolished.

Like other Liverpool parks, Stanley Park was adopted as a training and parade ground for the newly established local 'Pals' regiments during WWI. During WWII the park was used for growing vegetables and defences were inserted. The park's iron railings were also removed for the war effort (replaced during the park's 2007-9 restoration) and the east lodge was destroyed in a bombing raid during the blitz of 1940/1.

Throughout the late C19 and C20 numerous features were added to the park as fashions in sport and recreation changed, such as the introduction of the Grade II listed conservatory and bandstand (both added in 1899); the insertion of bowling greens in the early and mid C20 (now removed); a short-lived open-air theatre introduced in the 1940s; and the Vernon Sangster Sports Centre, which was constructed in the eastern section of the park in the 1970s and was demolished in c.2002.

In 2000 restoration work was carried out on the central and western sections of the lake, including rebuilding the lake wall, creating lakeside edge paths, and restoring the irregular northern shoreline, which had been given a straight edge following its incorporation into a swimming pool in 1923.

Following decades of alteration, neglect and the dilution of Kemp's original design a major restoration programme took place within the western half of the park in 2007-9. This saw the reinstatement and restoration of many of Kemp's original features, including the reinstatement of the eastern section of the lake, and the removal of later unsympathetic additions.

Stanley Park forms part of the New Anfield Project, which aims to regenerate the local area. The £14 million funding for the park's restoration came from the NRF (Neighbourhood Renewal Fund), European Union Objective One, HMRI (Housing Market Renewal Initiative) and Liverpool Football Club. In return for part-funding the restoration project permission for the construction of a new football stadium in the south-eastern section of the park was granted to Liverpool Football Club in 2007 with re-designed plans approved in 2008. At the time of writing, these plans have not yet been proceeded with.

EDWARD KEMP (1817-1891) Edward Kemp was a landscape gardener who trained under Joseph Paxton at Chatsworth House, Derbyshire and went on to become one of the leading park and garden designers of the C19, working on both public and private commissions. He has an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Between 1842 and 1845 Paxton designed Birkenhead Park (opened 1847) and entrusted the park's construction and development to Kemp by installing him as the head gardener (superintendent), a post he held for forty years. In 1850 Kemp produced his seminal work, 'How to Lay Out a Small Garden', of which the third edition published in 1864 set out his division of landscape styles: the formal or geometrical style, the mixed, middle or irregular style, and the picturesque.

EDWARD ROBERT ROBSON (1836-1917) Edward Robert Robson was an architect and surveyor who was first articled to John Dobson and then subsequently worked as a draughtsman for George Gilbert Scott. After setting up a private practice with J W Wilson Walton (later Walton-Wilson) in 1859 he was appointed architect to Durham Cathedral until 1864 when he became the architect and surveyor to the corporation of Liverpool. In 1871 Robson went to London, becoming the surveyor and later the architect for the newly-created School Board for London, and then architect for the Education Department, during which time his rules for school building, published in his influential book 'School Architecture' (1874), were issued nationally and influenced Board School designs throughout the country. Although most of his buildings were produced for the public sector, Robson also worked on a number of private commissions during his career with a series of different partners. Robson also has an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.


LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING Stanley Park is situated c.3km north-east of Liverpool city centre in a predominantly late-C19/early-C20 residential area characterised mainly by dense terraced housing. The c.45ha site slopes down from its highest point on the southern boundary to its northern boundary.

The park is enclosed by cast-iron railings (reinstated in 2007-9 in the style of the originals) set upon a stone plinth and its boundaries are formed by Walton Lane to the west and north, Priory Road to the north-east, and Arkles Lane to the south-east. The park's southern boundary is defined partly by Anfield Road where it is enclosed at the western end by the same stone plinth surmounted by railings. The rest of the park's southern boundary is formed by the gardens of Victorian villas that lie along Anfield Road, and which are divided from the park by a high red sandstone screen wall.

Immediately bordering the north side of Priory Road is Anfield Cemetery (designed by Edward Kemp, 1861-4, Grade II* registered), which forms part of the setting for the park. The park is also flanked to the north and south by the football stadiums of Goodison Park and Anfield respectively.

ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES There are eight formal entrances to the park: three lie on Walton Lane, two on Priory Road and one on Arkles Lane, with circular and square stone gate piers and conical and polygonal caps. Another much smaller entrance in the same style lies on Anfield Road and is associated with a west lodge designed by Robson (Grade II listed). An entrance to the east of the lodge originally led to the nursery yard, which is now a car park. Another entrance with stone gate piers is formed by an alley leading north off Anfield Road, which becomes Mill Lane and runs in a straight line north-east - south-west through the park to join Priory Road. Two further mid-C20 entrances at the south-east end of Priory Road lead into a car park, which occupies the eastern extreme of the park.

GARDENS AND PLEASURE GROUNDS The park falls into three distinct areas: a strongly formal terraced area, which is situated on the highest ground along the south-west boundary; a middle ground composed of soft, informal landscaping set below the terrace; and a 'picturesque' area in the north corner of the park, which is formed of a structured series of walks and lakes. Trees and shrubs border the west, north, north-east and south-east boundaries, as well as the junctions of sinuous paths that can be found throughout the park. An additional fourth area of open grassland at the south-east end of the park was provided for sports. Football and other sports were prohibited in many other parks, including Sefton Park, but they were encouraged in Stanley Park as healthy pursuits for the working classes. Stanley Park's strong links to football are clear, as it was in the eastern section of the park that Everton played their earliest matches in the late 1870s/early 1880s before moving to neighbouring Anfield in 1884, and eventually to Goodison Park.

FORMAL LANDSCAPE: the dominant feature of the western part of the park is a top walk with a high red sandstone screen wall (Grade II listed), which runs alongside the southern boundary and is canted into three sections with blank arcading, gableted buttresses and Gothic pinnacles. The first section of the wall is located within the south-west corner of the park and runs north-east - south-west. It is c.105m long and adjoins a walk which terminates at the south-west end by the west lodge. Centrally placed alongside the north-west edge of the walk is a large, rebuilt and altered conservatory supplied by Mackenzie and Moncur of Edinburgh in 1899 (Grade II listed), which was the gift of the city elder, Henry Yates Thompson. The conservatory is now known as the Isla Gladstone Conservatory. c.20m to the north-west of the conservatory is a cast-iron bandstand by W. Macfarlane & Co. of Glasgow, which was also added in 1899 (Grade II listed). About 100m north of the bandstand is a children's play area and paths leading to the picturesque area. c.35m to the north-east of the conservatory and adjacent to the walk is a heavily planted area containing statues that once decorated a late-C19/early-C20 sunken garden in the northern section of the park.

The central section of the wall runs east - west and faces north. The wall, which is approximately 190m long, incorporates a large central pavilion flanked by two smaller pavilions and with two detached, octagonal pavilions at each west and east end (all Grade II listed); the latter managing the wall's changes in axis and framing views of the park and areas beyond. All are constructed of red sandstone with open arcades and are in Gothic Revival style. The pavilions were designed by Robson and were originally used for shelter and refreshment. The screen wall has a number of functioning and blocked-up doors, which originally gave access from the private gardens of houses behind. The top walk overlooks a formal terrace with geometric beds and a lower walk, which runs alongside the parapet of a red sandstone retaining wall (Grade II listed), which is constructed in the style of a fortress wall with bastions. Three fountains that were introduced to the terrace in the early 1900s, and were aligned with the pavilions above, were removed in the 1970s. Set towards each western and eastern end of the terrace are stone stair flights and paths, which connect the top and lower walks. Long views to the north (originally reaching Snowdon, the Isle of Man, and the Lake District before being largely obscured by Liverpool's later urban sprawl and mature planting) are obtained from the terrace and walks, and the lake can once again be observed following the removal of later C20 planting.

The last section of the screen wall runs north-west - south-east and is c.150m long. Alongside is a walk (known as the Rose Walk) flanked by heavily-planted rose beds enclosed by box hedging to the south-west side, and lawn to the north-east side with interspersed rose beds and conifer topiary. A low conifer hedge forms a north-east boundary to the walk. An east lodge, which was originally sited at the south-east end of the rose walk was destroyed by bombing in 1940/1.

MIDDLE GROUND: the middle ground allows views from the formal terrace to the picturesque area, and originally complemented the distant natural landscape that existed before the park was encroached by later development. Two sinuous paths lead down from each end of the formal terrace through the undulating landscape of the middle ground towards the picturesque area. A later path has been inserted that crosses the middle ground diagonally from the south-east - north-west. A later cast-iron pavilion (Grade II listed), which was introduced to the southern end of the middle ground as part of a late-C19/early-C20 bowling green terrace has been removed. The terrace has also been removed and the soft landscaping of the middle ground restored.

The middle ground in front of the rose walk has lost one of its two original sinuous paths and now has a later inserted path along the south-western edge. The open grassland is mainly flat and contains a series of football pitches.

PICTURESQUE AREA: the park's 'picturesque' area comprises a large lake in the north corner of the park with an irregular, sinuous shoreline that forms the focus of carefully constructed views from the terrace. The lake is divided into four separate sections by planted islands and a series of four cast-iron and stone bridges situated at the east and north-east ends of the lake and a large ornamental, Gothic-style stone bridge towards the western end (all Grade II listed). The eastern section of the lake was turned into a sunken garden in the late-C19/early-C20 with two short-lived canals, but was restored in 2007-9. Overlooking this section of the lake and located on a former island (now the northern shore) is the stone base of a boathouse (Grade II listed) with an arched boat entrance at ground level on the south-west side accessed internally via a descending stair flight on the north-east side. A wooden Gothic Revival-style superstructure above was destroyed by arson in the 1990s and the platform now acts as a viewpoint. The fourth and smallest section of the lake set to the north-east of the boathouse was drained and turned into a landscaped area in the early C20 and remains as such. The original paths encircling the lake survive and have since been complemented by lakeside edge paths, which were created around parts of the central and eastern sections of the lake in 2000. Two swimming pools inserted into the north-east corner of the lake's central section in 1923 and demolished in 1960 had resulted in an unsympathetic straight edge to the northern shore, but this was restored to its original irregular form in 2000.

Naturalistic planted mounds and banks exist along the northern boundary of the picturesque area and also around parts of the lake edge so that views of the lake are screened and different scenes unfold as the paths are followed around the lake.

Set to the north-west corner of the picturesque area is a large circular gravel island containing mature trees, which is encircled by a path. Four paths lead off at each 90 degrees; that to the north-west accesses one of the formal entrances on Walton Lane, those to the north-east and south-west sides access the lake paths, and that to the south-east leads to the main stone bridge. At the south-eastern end of the main bridge is a hexagonal Gothic Revival-style shelter by E R Robson (Grade II listed, drinking fountain removed), which provides a focal point where the paths divide to provide walks around the lake perimeter.

INFORMAL SOUTH-EASTERN SECTION: the south-eastern section of the park is characterised by open grassland, which rises very gently from the northern to the southern boundary. Running alongside the north-eastern perimeter is a sinuous path whilst along the south-western edge is a straight walk with mature planting and a low hedge along the north-east side with views out to the distant hills. The whole of the extreme south-eastern end of the park is occupied by a large tarmac car park constructed in c.1964 to serve the 1966 World Cup matches played at Goodison Park. A serpentine path that originally diagonally transected the area from south-west - north-east has been lost, along with a Grade II listed cast-iron shelter.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:
Parks and Gardens


Books and journals
Chadwick, GF, The Park and the Town, (1966)
Elliot, B, Victorian Gardens, (1986)
Kemp, E , Landscape Gardening: How to Lay Out a Garden , (1911 edition)
Layton-Jones, K, Lee, R, Places of Health and Amusement: Liverpools's historic parks and gardens, (2008)
Menuge, A , Ordinary Landscapes, Special Places, (2008)
Physick, R, Played in Liverpool: Charting the heritage of a city at play, (2007)
Wrathmell, S, Minnis, J, Pevsner Architectural Guides: Leeds, (2005)
Pearson, A, 'Historic Gardens' in Stanley Park and the Gladstone Conservatory, Liverpool, (2010)
Kemp, Edward (1817-1891), accessed from
Robson, Edward Robert (1835-1917), architect and surveyor, accessed from
Early and mid C20 postcard views of Stanley Park provided by Liverpool City Council's Parks & Green Spaces Department,
Illustrated London News, 28 April 1870,
The Porcupine, Liverpool 18 April 1868,


This garden or other land is registered under the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953 within the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens by Historic England for its special historic interest.

End of official listing