the park opening
Sir Joseph Memorial Playing Field was opened on the 26th October 1935 in memory of Sir Joseph Hood who served as Mayor of Wimbledon 1930-31 and as MP for Wimbledon 1918-24.
The park was covenanted as a playing field and recreation site with the assistance of the Carnegie Trust and the National Playing Fields Association which contributed, in today's money, the equivalent of £118,65 towards the purchase and creation of the park.
The Merton and Morden Urban District Council contributed half of the purchase price of the site and agreed to maintain it in perpetuity as a playing field and recreation ground.
Photograph of Sir Joseph Hood from the programme of the Park's opening
Sir Harold Hood, Sir Joseph Hood's son (speaking) and Lady Hood (far right) at the opening of the Park in October 1935 outside the pavilion
The original programme from the opening of Sir Joseph Hood Memorial Playing Field on the 26th October 1935
Obituary for Sir Joseph Hood - The Times 12th Jan 1931
We announce today the death of Sir Joseph Hood, Mayor of Wimbledon and generous public benefactor of the Wimbledon and Morden districts. He had been a Conservative member for the borough from 1918 until 1924. It was expected that during his term of office as Mayor the new Town Hall and municipal buildings would be opened, possibly by a member of the Royal Family.
Sir Joseph was born at Ashby-de-la-Zouch on March 31st 1863. He was educated at the Ashby -de-la-Zouch Grammar School and admitted a solicitor in 1890 practicing in Liverpool until 1903. In 1902 he was engaged in the formation of the British-American Tobacco Company Limited and was appointed the first solicitor to the company and its associated companies. Later he became of those companies and subsequently one of the Deputy Chairmen. Parliamentary and other duties led him to resign these directorships in 1921. During the War he served on two committees of the Board of Trade and was Assistant Controller of the Department of Turkey. At the end of 1918 he was elected Coalition Unionist member for Wimbledon with a majority of over 10,000. During his Parliamentary career Sir Joseph was a member of the Tobacco Licensing Committee of the Board of Trade, the Advisory Committee of the Tobacco Control Board, and the Board of Trade Merchandise Marks Committee, of the last of which he was Deputy Chairman. In recognition of these and other services he was made a Baronet in 1922. Among his gifts to Wimbledon was that of 21 acres of land at Raynes Park adjoining Cannon Hill Common. This area he fully equipped as a recreation ground (Joseph Hood Recreation Ground) at a cost of £11,000 and handed over to Merton and Morden Council. He also had laid out, at a cost of £2,500 an area of 5 1/2 acres of vacant land at Garfield Road, South Wimbledon, as a recreation ground and in many other ways that district found him a liberal benefactor. He and Lady Hood were given the Freedom of the Borough in 1924. He married first, in 1900, Katherine (who died in 1913), daughter of Mr. Martin Kenny of Ballindaggin, County Wexford, and by her had three daughters; and second, Marie Josephine, Daughter of Mr. Archibald Robinson of Dublin by whom he had two sons. The heir to the Baronetcy was born in 1916.
The Friends wish to express our thanks to Josepha Murray nee Hood (Granddaughter of Sir Joseph Hood) for the above photographs and information
From 1937 until the early 2000s, there was a Bowling Green at Sir Joseph Hood Memorial Playing Field.
The Bowling Green was developed into a Crazy Golf course in 2007.
BOWLS and crazy golf
We don't know exactly when the paddling pool was put into the park and we believe it was originally in a different location. If you have any information on this or any other aspect of the park's history, especially about the different sports clubs that have been based there, please let us know at
Woodland becomes accessible
The Memorial wood, originally planted in the 1860s was inaccessible to the public until the 1990s and was a designated bird Reserve. Since then, entrances were made in the North East corner and the South with a footpath. It was established as a nature Reserve in 1994.
In 2001, 10,000 trees were planted as a Millennium wood adjacent to the Memorial Wood.
The friends group
The friends group was set up in 2003 by members of the community committed to looking after Sir Joseph Hood Memorial Playing Field, campaigning, organising events and raising money. It was initially set up following a public meeting about a proposal from AFC Wimbledon to use the playing field and threats to reduce the opening of the paddling pool.
2004The Friends' Café opened in 2004 in the Pavilion and has since moved to The Hut where we also run Crazy Golf
2007From 2007, with the exception of 2016, the Park has won the Green Flag Award every year up to and including 2017
2008Multi-sports courts are installed following a grant from the London Marathon Charitable Trust and the Youth Opportunity Fund
2015New fitness equipment was installed by Merton Council following requests by the Friends for support to replace the old trim trail.
local artists and the park
Local artist Arnold Ramshaw's watercolour postcards of the park were sold in the café between 2008 and 2012:
Local A-Level Photography student Hannah Scott's photos of the park (2011) are on display in the Pavilion: