|HCC Site ID:||1986||Parish:||Havant|
|Access:||Public access||Ownership:||Havant Borough Council|
Location and Site
Front Lawn Recreation Ground is approximately 2 miles north-east of Havant town centre and to the west of the B2149, Havant to Petersfield Road. It is surrounded on the south, east, and west, and part of the north west by residential housing and on the north by Front Lawn Junior School. The housing is enclosed by High Lawn Way, Somborne Drive and Billy Lawn Avenue, that approximate to a rectangle. The land slopes from north to south.
Front Lawn was once part of an early C18 Parkland Estate that was created by William Garrett after purchasing the farmhouse and land in 1802. In 1820, Sir George Staunton acquired the estate, extended the house and developed the gardens around it. However, it is not until the first edition Ordnance Survey (OS) map of 1870 that the name Front Lawn, a Pavilion, presumably for cricket that had become popular at that period, and a small group of trees north-east of the Pavilion, are noted. By this time, the estate had been purchased by William Stone. The second edition OS map of 1897-98 indicates that a well had been sunk to the west of the Pavilion and another tree planted to the south-west. In 1874, Major General Sir Fredrick Wellington Fitzwygram became the owner and his son, Frederick Lofthouse Fitzwygram succeeded him in 1904 (HE online). Any changes that they may have made to the site are not shown until the publication of the fourth edition OS map between 1931 and 1946, which notes the Front Lawn, including the pavilion, plus the area of the current Front Lawn Junior School, as enclosed. The enclosure could have taken place during wartime when the Admiralty had use of the house and land. In 1946, Portsmouth City Council purchased the estate to build houses for those who were made homeless during the second World War (HE online). It is likely that the recreation ground was created as part of the estate development. The Junior School was built in 1958 (Lambert online). In 1965, Havant Borough Council had the Bowling Green laid out and a couple of years later the members erected a large garden shed as a stop gap clubhouse, before a more permanent one was built (Leigh bowls online).
On our visit in August 2017 there were considerable changes taking place to the Recreation Ground as a result of Havant Borough Council giving planning permission, in December 2015, for: an extension and alterations to pavilion; construction of new full size Artificial Turf Pitch; extension and improvements to existing parking area; refurbishment and alterations to the existing hard surfaced area to create a multi use games area (MUGA) and installation of floodlights (Havant online). These changes affect just over half of the ground and essentially divide it into three distinct areas. On the west side, there is the Bowling Green, new multi use games area and play area that are separated from the new enclosed football pitch by a tarmac path, leading from the main entrance in the south west corner to the north, and an avenue of lime and hornbeam trees. South of the football pitch, on the southern boundary, is the pavilion, which was in the process of being extended. Between the pavilion and the new pitch there will be additional car parking space and a new path. North of the football pitch there was an earth embankment, with an avenue of hornbeam and small leaved lime which extends along the northern perimeter. A high beech hedge separates the recreation ground from the school. From the north east corner a tarmac path extends close to the perimeter, south and then east to the pavilion. By the eastern path, there is a line of trees on the west side and some sycamores and a tulip tree on the boundary. Plane and ash trees, and a netball tarmac area, form the south-east corner, with a mixed line of trees extending to the pavilion. Within the area to the east, which has not been affected by the alterations, there were football pitches for youngsters, and two small groups of mature trees.
Summary & Significance
The Front Lawn Recreation Ground’s name gives an indication of its historic past. The site continues to provide an important community facility for a wide range of activities, as well as a space for more gentle pursuits within a densely populated area.
HGT Research: Havant Urban Park Update:August 2017
Havant online: http://havant.moderngov.co.uk/
HE online: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1000112
Lambert online: http://www.localhistories.org/leigh.html
Leigh bowls online: http://leighpark.bowls-club.co.uk/ [all accessed September 2017]