King George V Playing Fields are a network of parks, playing fields, recreational grounds and green spaces across the UK established and protected in memory of HM King George V. There are 506 King George's Fields, which are protected forever with Fields in Trust to ensure they will always be there for communities as places for sport, nature and play.
There are over 500 King George's Fields across the UK covering over 2,000 hectares of green space. Each has its own page on our website where you can find out more information about the space - visit our Fields Finder and enter your postcode to find your nearest green space which is protected with Fields in Trust.
The ownership of King George's Fields remains locally, often with the local authority. Several King George's Fields were established charitably and are managed by a local body of Trustees. The landowner or designated managing organisation is responsible for management and maintenance of King George's Fields. You can find out the managing organisation for your local King George's Field using our Fields Finder.
Management and maintenance of King George's Fields remains locally and our robust yet flexible protection ensures the spaces can continue to serve the needs of their communities.
All King George's Fields are protected forever with Fields in Trust. The protection is a legal agreement between Fields in Trust and the space's landowner that they will retain it for use as a green space, usually a public park, playing field or recreation ground, in perpetuity. More information on our legal protection is available in our introducer article.
Our then President, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh opened the King George's Fields in Mile End in 1952. Five decades later he returned to see the result of extensive improvement works. Our protection ensures the park will still be there for decades to come.
The King George's Fields were created as a national memorial to His Late Majesty King George V. At the time of the King's death in 1936, it was increasingly recognised that urbanisation was limiting access to open spaces where the public could get outdoors and be active. During his reign the King had encouraged the development of playing fields to provide children and young people with spaces to learn and develop and it was thus considered the creation of King George's Fields would be a fitting memorial.
For almost 90 years King George's Fields like this one in Enfield have been providing places for children to get outdoors, play and be active.
Applications for grants to created King George's Fields opened in March 1937 and by the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, 1,800 applications had been received of which 462 had been approved with £400,000 of funds allocated. King George's Field in Sonning, Berkshire was the first space approved under the scheme and was legally protected in July 1938. Construction of the new playing fields remained at a standstill throughout the war and by 1945 the changed circumstances led to a number of schemes being abandoned, with alternatives approved and supported in most cases.
The final field to be approved under the scheme was King George's Field in St. Donat's, Vale of Glamorgan which was legally protected in November 1965. All King George's Fields were completed by the 1960s with the scheme having distributed grants in excess of £600,000 and total capital costs to all bodies exceeding £4 million. The spaces created remain protected in perpetuity with Fields in Trust to ensure they will always be there not just as a lasting memorial to King George V but also for their local communities and for the environment.
King George's Field, Sonning
The first King George's Field, which has been protected since July 1938.
King George's Field, St Andrews
Cockshaugh Park has been legally protected forever since June 1952.
King George V Playing Field, St. Donat's
The final field to be approved under the scheme, protected in November 1965.
Following the death of King George V in January of 1936 a committee was set up to consider what form a national memorial should take. The King George's Fields Foundation was established by Trust Deed in November 1936 with a remit "to promote and assist in the establishment throughout the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland of playing fields for the use and enjoyment of the people". It was Chaired by Clement Atlee until he became Prime Minister in 1945.
A National Memorial Fund Committee collected public donations and distributed these to local bodies as grants towards the capital costs of new playing fields. Local Trustees accepted responsibility for management and maintenance of the newly created recreation grounds.
In addition to the King George's Fields Foundation, the King George V Memorial Committee also erected a statue of His Late Majesty in Old Palace Yard, Westminster.
Fields in Trust was founded by the future HM King George VI in 1925 and HM King George V served as our Patron from 1933 to 1936. We initially supported the work of the Foundation by administering and reviewing the proposals received by the scheme. In 1965, Fields in Trust became sole Trustee of the Foundation and its objects were widened to include "preservation" as well as "establishment" of King George’s Fields.
As every King George's Field forms part of the national memorial to His Late Majesty, it was a condition that each should display Heraldic Panels at their entrance. The King George's Fields Foundation encouraged local bodies to design an entrance to their field which suited the local neighbourhood, leading to a wide variety in styles, but common to all are the Heraldic Panels which became the official emblems of the national memorial and were supplied by the Foundation.
The Heraldic Panels were made of either stone or bronze and, in some cases, brass. Two panels were supplied to each field, to be sited at either side of the entrance. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland a Lion panel was to be affixed to the left and Unicorn panel to the right, both holding a shield. In Scotland, the Lion and Unicorn are reversed with the Scottish arms present on the shield and the Unicorn wearing a crown.
Plaques like this at the entrance to your local park or green space signifies it is a King George V Playing Field. Pictured is the England, Wales and Northern Ireland version of the Unicorn plaque.
The King George's Fields Foundation did not directly support the creation of any spaces outside of the UK, however the title of "King George's Field" was given, along with Heraldic Panels, to green spaces in Barbados, the Falkland Islands, Malta, Nigeria and Yemen.
It is believed that three of these spaces are still in existence today - King George V Memorial Park in Jezreel, Barbados; King George V Recreation Grounds in Floriana, Malta; and Onikan Stadium (formerly King George V Stadium) in Lagos, Nigeria. The distinctive lion and unicorn emblems of the Foundation can still be seen atop the grand gates to King George V Recreation Grounds in Floriana.
The King George's Fields are protected in perpetuity with Fields in Trust. As a charity, we rely on your support to help us champion, support and protect green spaces for good across the UK. A donation towards our work will support the ongoing stewardship of the King George's Fields as well as the protection of many more green spaces.
If you have a King George V Playing Field close to home, you can also help by checking its page on our website and letting us know if anything needs updating.
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