Abbey Fields is a public open space in the heart of Kenilworth. The ground slopes steeply down from the north and south to the Finham Brook, alongside which a shallow lake has been created on the site of the abbey's original fishponds. Recreational facilities include an open air swimming pool, tennis courts and children's playground.
The Fields were the site of the Abbey of St Mary, founded around 1119 for Augustinian Canons and closed by King Henry VIII's dissolution in 1538. By 1600, most of the abbey’s buildings had been dismantled, although some parts survive today both above and below ground, including the 14th century sandstone Barn, which is now home to the town’s museum, maintained by the Kenilworth History and Archaeology Society and open on summer Sunday and Bank Holiday afternoons.
In the 19th century, the Fields formed part of the estate of the Earls of Clarendon who also owned Kenilworth Castle. The land was put up for sale in 1884, and the central part of the Fields was bought by the Kenilworth Local Board (the forerunner to the District Council). The land was conveyed with a covenant that “said pieces of land may forever hereinafter be used as public walks or pleasure grounds, under the Recreational Grounds Act 1859”. As the Board couldn’t find the finance needed for the purchase of the rest of the land, it was acquired by a few eminent townspeople who developed some of the edges for housing but gifted the rest to the town.
Today the Fields are maintained by Warwick District Council with help from The Friends of Abbey Fields. A covenant on one part of the land requires that it be kept ‘in its natural state as open grassland’, and this is generally the policy today- the Fields are not a conventional park, but a piece of countryside in the centre of the town.
Further details of the history and wildlife of the Fields can be found on the Friends of Abbey Fields website. Link
See other images of Abbey Fields, Kenilworth