|HCC Site ID:||1926||Parish:||Bevois Ward, Southampton|
|Access:||Public Access||Ownership:||Southampton City Council|
Location and Site
Rockstone Place Park lies close to the A33 at the most southern end of The Avenue, which leads into Southampton city centre. The park occupies a narrow strip of land bordering Rockstone Place, between a row of houses to the north and the new Magistrates Court to the south.
Pre 1830s the land was part of a farm on the outskirts of Southampton. It was included in a parcel of land bought by Edward Toomer in 1823-4, on which, during the 1830s and 40s, he built four blocks of houses. The street was given the name Rockstone Place. The half acre (0.2 ha) opposite the houses and backing on to the already developed Carlton Crescent, was too narrow for a house and was left as an amenity for the residents of Rockstone Place; it was laid out as a small pleasure garden with railings. In 1879, the sisters Jane Wills and the Misses Margaret and Rebecca Toomer, the surviving heirs of Edward Toomer, gifted the garden to Southampton Borough Council to be kept as an open area in perpetuity.
Adjacent to the garden is the former site of the Ordnance Survey offices and during World War II the ground was turned into air raid shelters for the O S staff, and the railings removed for scrap. Post war the garden was neglected and became overgrown until, in 1967, the Corporation was pressed to provide more off street car parking, and the garden was cleared and tarred over to become a park for 60 cars. When in 1969 the OS offices moved to Maybush there were plans to develop the vacated ground owned by the government for Magistrates Courts, Crown Courts and a Police HQ, but action was very slow and the garden continued to be used as a car park. In 1979, the Southampton Commons and Parks Protection Society (SCAPPS) committee made a presentment to the Southampton Court Leet about the misuse of the garden as a car park, failure to take steps to rectify the situation, and for encouraging attempts at circumnavigating the restrictive covenant instead of seeking ways of honouring its obligations. After a prolonged campaign, which included a second presentment in 1983 and the subsequent intervention of the Local Ombudsman, the Council was forced to act. It was also necessary to convince the County Council’s architect that it was not possible to establish a right of way through the park to the new Magistrates Court and to agree to infill a breach in the south wall and rebuild the east wall. At last in 1991, Rockstone Place Park was reinstated and the residents and other citizens have again been able to enjoy the small park.
Rockstone Place is a quiet well-maintained small town park, overlooked by the modern Magistrates Court along its southern side. It is walled on the south and east boundaries, with railings on the rest dividing it from the road. As well as a number of mature trees, there are recently-planted trees, as well as borders of shrubs and herbaceous plants, grass and paved areas and seating.
Rockstone Place is a small town park, walled on the south and east boundaries, railings on the rest dividing it from the road. It was originally laid out in the mid 19th century with trees and plants. Reinstated by Southampton City council in 1991 with additional trees, borders of shrubs and herbaceous plants, grass and paved areas.
HGT Research: Summer 2004, updated March 2013
1835 Southampton Corporation Waterworks Department 5.2 ins : 1 mile Southampton Central Library Special Collections
1846 O S Survey of Southampton 60 ins : 1 mile Southampton City Archives
1871 O S Survey of Southampton 6 ins : 1 Mile Southampton Central Library
1905 Southampton Neighbourhood 6 ins : 1 Mile
Southampton City Archives: Central Special Collections
1878 Southampton Borough Council Minutes 15/05/1878 1879
Plan of park area 1879 Indenture between Misses Toomer the Council
1879A Lease Committee minutes 04/02/1879
1914 Book of Examinations Depositions. Transcription by E R Aubrey G H Hamilton Vol 21 1570-94 Page 46
1978 Policy Resources Sub-committee 20/11/1978
Southampton University Library (HGT Collection)
2000 Protect it Now by Lubor Velecky Pp87-89
City of Southampton Society
1981 Southampton’s Historic Buildings by R J Coles pub 1981
SCAPPS Southampton Commons and Parks Preservation Society
1979 Southampton Court Leet Presentment 02/10/1979
1983 Southampton Court Leet Presentment Oct.1983
1984 Cutting – Southern Evening Echo 17/02/1984
1984 City of Southampton Plan 205/737 June 1984
1987 Proposed plan for land in Rockstone Place & Magistrates Courts
1989 Commission for Local Administration in England Investigation 87/B/1244
1989 Plan 6824 Southampton City Council