Successful restoration of Ruskin Park’s Portico shelter

We are delighted to see that work to restore Ruskin Park’s Grade II listed Portico shelter has been completed. This is a period landscape ‘folly’, giving an elegant focal point to the lovely view from Denmark Hill down and across the park towards the west. 

The Portico is built from materials and features surviving from one of the 18th century villas that once lined Denmark Hill. It was originally part of a large house that once stood at 170 Denmark Hill, known as Woodlands, whose first occupant was James Wilson (1760-1814),a sea captain and trader who later became involved in missionary work. These houses were demolished and their grounds incorporated into the park when it opened in 1907.

The structure had been in a poor state of repair for many years, becoming almost an overgrown ruin, and boarded up. It was added to Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register in 2005.

The restoration started in 2016, enabled by a partnership between Historic England, Lambeth Council, Heritage of London Trust and the Friends of Ruskin Park, with support from the Wates Family Enterprise Trust. Work included stabilisation of the structure, repairs to brickwork, roof and tiled floors, detailed joinery and repainting. More information can be found on the Historic England website at

Not only is it now a beautiful feature, but it has seats under cover, so a peaceful place to linger.

The work could not have been completed without some final work to replace the upper mouldings for the columns. This was generously undertaken by local residents, art expert Rupert Maas, and his skilled craftsmen colleague, Steve Smith. We would like to express our gratitude to them for taking this on.

Additional works are also proposed this summer to install fittings into the Portico that will allow lightweight metal grilles, completed in a rustic and attractive design, to be erected to cover and secure the alcoves during the winter if required for building security, or to enable more positive features like art installations to be temporarily attached. Landscaping works are planned for this autumn to reduce the dense vegetation along the Denmark Hill boundary to allow the restored building to be better viewed from the main road and from wider aspects within the park.

We would also like to thank Dr Iain Boulton from Lambeth Council for his tireless efforts to bring the restoration to fruition, to Liz Whitbourn’s persistence (from Historic England) and to our previous chair David Whyte for his support for the project.