I have been visiting Broomfield Park since I was a child. My family lived opposite the park in Broomfield Lane and my siblings and I would cross the road and jump or clamber over the park fence to gain entrance. We kids couldn’t be bothered to go an extra 50 metres and use the gate.
My parents left us children to freely come and go to the park. Mum and Dad knew that Hassan, the friendly Park Keeper, in his smart uniform with a peaked cap would keep an eye on us. Hassan was of Turkish Cypriot origin, as were we, and my parents had spoken with him to keep an eye on us and keep us safe in the park.
If you are familiar with the area you will know that the Grade II listed house in Broomfield Park that originates from the 16th century was devastated by fire in 1984. It is a shameful that Broomfield House exists as charred remains held up by scaffolding and has done so for nearly 30 years.
Today I was interviewed by Christine Lalla, a film maker who is making a short documentary film with the intention of raising money for the restoration of this historic building. I recounted my childhood memories of Broomfield House to her.
The house had been a Natural History Museum and on the ground floor there was a live bee hive made of glass so you could see the bees in all their activity. There was a glass tunnel which took the bees to their hive from the world outside. It was fascinating to watch, in fact a hive of activity. I remember visiting the upstairs of the museum where there were drawers of exhibits. Some of the exhibits were dead butterflies pinned out with their names. I knew it to be Natural History but to me it seemed very unnatural to look at dead butterflies when there were many live and colourful butterflies fluttering around the flowers outside the house. I only remember going upstairs a couple of times.
I look forward to seeing the end product and hope that it is not just a film but is the restoration of Broomfield House. Does that mean restoration to its former glory? Or does it mean giving the building a purpose, like a school? It mustn’t be left to rot for another 30 years.