The Friendly Park

The Friendly Park

Parks can be new or old, large or small, and urban or wild. The Eaton Park that Ceceile and I have come to know and love in our two years in Norwich is a city park not yet a century old, and so still young by British standards. Eaton is quite large for a city the size of Norwich and, of course, very much a part of the surrounding urban fabric of houses, schools and businesses. However, there is also a wild naturalness about Eaton Park that I notice most times I walk through it on my way to work. All I have to do is to look up at the Norfolk sky from Eaton Park’s colonnaded center to enjoy the towering spectacle of clouds that — as the Fenland poet Edward Storey insists — “are to us as the Himalayas are to the world of Asia.”  Or as the writer Charles Kingsley put it: “Overhead the arch of heaven spread more ample than elsewhere, as over the open sea…such cloudlands, such sun rises, such sunsets, as can be seen nowhere else in these isles.” The elegant geometries designed into Eaton Park by A. E. Sandys-Winsch in the 1920s bring the natural world of cloudlands, flower beds, migratory birds and chirping crickets close to us even as park patrons gather together to enjoy each other’s company in outdoor pursuits ranging from picnicking and dog-walking to team sports, model boating and train rides. Eaton Park is very local in its East Anglian topography and in its native varieties of flora and fauna; but it is also attuned to shared and...