The walk starts and finishes at Waterloo Station.
It has five separate sections, which can be combined in the following ways, depending on the length of walk required:
Section 1 takes about an hour to walk. The whole walk takes over three hours, depending on the time spent in gardens. Parts of the walk are also suitable as a cycle ride, though some walking is required, especially on Section 3.
This circular walk takes in parks, garden squares, churchyards, community gardens and other green spaces of historic interest in Lambeth and west Southwark.
All the gardens are open during daylight hours, unless otherwise indicated. Seating is provided in most gardens, and they are accessible to wheelchairs, except where stated.
From Waterloo Station, use exit 2 opposite platform 5 (escalators or lift available) into Waterloo Road. Cross and turn left to reach the church of St John the Evangelist.
St John the Evangelist by Francis Bedford is one of several churches built in 1822-4 to commemorate Wellington's victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. The church was badly bombed in WW2 and in 1951 was restored and opened to serve as the parish church of the Festival of Britain. The churchyard was transformed into a garden in 1877 and social reformer Octavia Hill has traditionally been connected with it. North of the church is a number of fine tombs and a war memorial. A garden of remembrance was created in 2000 and there are mosaics and a small playground. The St John's Churchyard Friends Group has begun the creation of a community knot garden. See www.stjohnswaterloo.co.uk.
Exit into Secker Street (step down to the street) and turn left. Go left into Cornwall Road, right at Stamford Street, left through Coin Street and right at Upper Ground to the Bernie Spain Gardens.
Named after local resident and campaigner Bernadette Spain, these gardens occupy the site of the Eldorado Ice Cream Company premises. There is a rest area for cyclists.
Go through the garden to the right, left at Stamford Street and right along Hatfields. In the days of rural Lambeth there were fields here where beaver skins were prepared for hat manufacture. On the right there is a grassed area with trees. Beyond this a small enclosed garden is visible on the Peabody Estate.
Go left into Meymott Street, left at Colombo Street then left into Paris Garden (there is no actual garden here today).
The 100-acre Manor of Paris Garden dates to 1113. Originally owned by the Knights Templar, it later passed to the Knights Hospitallers. The manor house, once owned by Jane Seymour, was acquired by the Bailiff of Southwark, who opened it to the public for bowling and gambling. Customers for the theatres and bear gardens landed at nearby Paris Garden Stairs and often stopped for refreshments. Its unlit wooded gardens made it a popular (and dangerous) meeting place! In the Commonwealth period the area was used for bleaching cloth and in the reign of Charles II was developed with housing and a church (see below).
Go into Christchurch Gardens behind the Rose & Crown pub.
The church was built in 1671 and re-built in 1738-41 with money bequeathed by John Marshall. The churchyard was extended in 1738 and again in 1817 when adjoining cottages were demolished. It closed to burials in 1856. In 1890-91 a Romanesque chancel was added but the church was destroyed by bombing on 17 April 1941. The place where the burning cross fell into the churchyard scorching the ground is marked with stones set into the grass. In 1960 a new church was opened, designed by R. Paxton Watson and B. Costin and now the headquarters of the South London Industrial Mission Centre. Stained glass in the church depicts Southwark industries. In 1900 the churchyard opened as a public garden, laid out by the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association and maintained by St Saviour's District Board of Works. A drinking fountain was donated by John Passmore Edwards. The garden was renovated to designs by Marcus Beale Architects in 2000 (see plaque). It is one of a number of gardens in the area maintained by the Bankside Open Spaces Trust (BOST). See also www.christchurchsouthwark.org.uk.
Exit into Blackfriars Road. The road cut through the area in 1769, when Blackfriars Bridge was built. Cross into Burrell Street, continuing left into Bear Lane, and cross Southwark Street into Hopton Street (by the Holiday Inn) to Hopton's Almshouses.
Hopton's Almshouses were founded by fishmonger Charles Hopton, who died in 1730. The 26 almshouses for 'poor decayed men' of the parish were erected in 1746-9 and opened in 1752. The residents, who included gardeners, watermen and fishermen were also granted £6 per year and 32 bushels of coal. In 1825 two extra houses were added. The complex includes two garden squares with centre lawns and roses, edged with shrubs. Outside the gates is a drinking fountain and cattle trough. The almshouses were rebuilt and modernised in 1988 and remain used for housing owned by The Anchor Trust.
Re-cross Southwark Street and go back along Bear Lane. Right at Dolben Street by the White Hart and left into Gambia Street. A section of road was made into a community garden in 2003/4. At the end of this street cross Union Street into Nelson Square.
The gardens here were originally for the use of residents of the square, but in 1903 the owner Viscount Halifax gave the site to the London County Council (LCC). It was laid out at a cost of £1,400, with half met by owners of the houses and the remainder by the LCC and Southwark Council. The terrace of houses at one corner are the only remaining original buildings, built between 1807 and 1810 and possibly designed by S. Cockerell. There are rose beds and six mature plane trees. Improvements, designed by Jennifer Coe Landscape Architects, were carried out with the support of BOST and local people in 2000-1, and included new play equipment and sports areas.
Walk along the north side and through the rose garden to the far exit. Cross Blackfriars Road into Ufford Street opposite. Ufford Street Recreation Ground is to the right, beyond Short Street.
The area was built over in the 19th century by Samuel Short. By 1901 the houses needed rebuilding and the then owners, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, decided that part should be set aside as public open space. Lambeth Borough Council laid out the park, which was transferred to them by the Commissioners in 1907. Half the area is a playground and half is grassed with a mahonia hedge and several mature London plane trees.
Exit on the far side and turn left along Mitre Road, right at Webber Street and cross The Cut to the Emma Cons Garden.
To return to the station go right along Waterloo Road. To continue, cross into Baylis Road and enter Waterloo Millennium Green.
This small street garden commemorates the Old Vic's benefactress, Emma Cons, 'an ardent reformer and legendary impresario' who managed the theatre from 1880 until her death in 1912. The Old Vic opened in 1818 as the Royal Coburg Theatre and changed to the Victoria Theatre in 1833. In 1879 it was bought by public subscription and given to the Coffee Palace Association, which provided musical and variety acts as well as lectures. The site opposite the theatre was bombed in WWII and was derelict until purchased by the LCC and opened as a public garden in 1958, originally laid out with trees, raised grass plots and seats, and since re-landscaped. The site has lighting provided by the Old Vic and was refurbished in association with Putting Down Roots.
To access this section from Waterloo Station, use Exit 2 opposite Platform 5 and turn right into Waterloo Road and right into Baylis Road to reach Waterloo Millennium Green.
This area was once part of the ancient Lambeth Marsh. The park, created on derelict land, was opened in 2001 and is community owned and managed. It has water features, a wildflower meadow, supervised play area and ball park. Living Space beyond the playground has a café and accessible toilets.
Enter Pearman Street, between Living Space and the ambulance station (street sign is missing). The houses along here have roof gardens. Cross Westminster Bridge Road, turn left and right into King Edward Walk, opposite Morley College. Cross Lambeth Road into Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park.
The Imperial War Museum, within the park, occupies the remains of the Bethlem Royal Hospital for the Insane, built in 1815. The asylum was built on land known as St George's Fields, a marshy area used for agriculture, fairs, pony races and other entertainments. From 1731 local mineral water was sold from a small public house which had existed since at least 1642. The pub was renamed St George's Spa and by 1758 provided tea rooms, a music gallery, ladies' and gentlemen's baths, skittle grounds and a bowling green. It was closed in 1799, having become notorious and rowdy. The area was also used for archery practice and the construction of two Commonwealth forts.
The Lodge on Lambeth Road, which dates from 1837, was built when the road layout in front of the hospital was changed; the ground gained was enclosed and planted.
In 1926, when the hospital moved to Beckenham, the land and buildings were purchased by Viscount Rothermere, proprietor of the Daily Mail, who presented it to the LCC for use as a public park in memory of his mother, Geraldine Mary Harmsworth. It was opened in 1934 and in 1938 a children's lido was added.
In the park is a section of the Berlin Wall and a Soviet War Memorial to the 27 million citizens and service personnel who died for Allied victory in WWII. A tree trail created by Trees For London links 34 native trees that colonised Britain after the last ice age. There is a map and information board in the Peace Garden (see below). The park has picnic benches, seasonal refreshments, a sundial, playground, playroom and sports area. Café and accessible toilets are available in the Imperial War Museum (free entry).
The walk continues through the Tibetan Garden of Contemplation and Peace (to the left, as you are facing the Imperial War Museum).
In the summer of 1996 Buddhist priests set up a peace camp and created a sand mandala in Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park. The permanent garden was opened by the Dalai Lama in 1999. Around the garden are sculptures by Hamish Horsley representing earth, air, water and fire. The centrepiece is a Buddhist symbol associated with peace and well-being.
Exit by the ranger's lodge into St George's Road. Turn right and second right into West Square.
In 1791 land here belonging to the Temple West family was leased to a Mr Hedger and houses were built. The garden was laid out by 1799. In 1812, the Admiralty installed a tower on no. 36 West Square for a shutter telegraph that conveyed messages between Whitehall and naval establishments in Kent during the Napoleonic wars. Senior staff from the Bethlem Royal Hospital (see above) were housed in the square in the early 1800s. By the end of the 19th century the garden was at risk from building development and a campaign was mounted to preserve it as an open space. The freehold was purchased for £3,500 in 1909 by the LCC and Borough of Southwark and the enlarged and restored garden was opened to the public in 1910.
After WWII there was a proposal to demolish the surrounding buildings and add the area to Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park. The Civic Amenities Act prevented this and the square was designated a conservation area. After WWII prefabs were built in the square and the terraces in the north-west corner were demolished, although Charlotte Sharman School built in 1884-5 remains on the north-west side. In the garden are old mulberry trees, rose gardens and a tree planted to celebrate the square's bicentenary.
Exit West Square on the far side, via Austral Street. Cross Brook Drive and go along Sullivan Road opposite, and right into Walcot Square.
To join Section 5 go right at Kennington Road and left along Lambeth Road.
Walcot Square was donated to the poor of St Mary's Lambeth by Edmond Walcott in his will of 1667. In Charles Dickens' Bleak House, Mr Guppy, the solicitor's clerk, intends to set himself up professionally in the square. The green is private property.
To continue, go left at Kennington Road. Cross at the traffic lights and turn right into Fitzalan Street. To the right is Roots & Shoots.
Roots & Shoots is devoted to vocational training, environmental education and urban conservation. The former site of garages has a wildlife garden used by local schools and the wider community. There is also a summer meadow, pond, beehives, apple trees and kiwi vines. Open days with special events are held, and there is an organic fruit and veg. market at weekends.
Cross Lambeth Walk Doorstep Green, towards the blue chimney.
The Doorstep Green has undergone improvements, including figures in the tarmac paths and a new pergola garden. It has sports areas and an adventure playground.
Turn right into Lollard Street, and continue along Old Paradise Street. At the end on the left is Lambeth High Street Recreational Ground.
The land was originally provided to the parish by Archbishop Thomas Tenison of Canterbury for a burial ground. The site had been leased to a gardener and was purchased for £120 in 1703. It was extended in 1816 but, being full, was closed in 1853. By 1880 it was 'very unsightly' and the vestry decided to turn it into a public garden, which was completed in 1884. Gravestones were moved to boundary walls with the mortuary left standing. A watch house erected on High Street for holding 'the drunk and disorderly' in 1825 was originally left but is now gone, its site marked with a stone. The new garden was conveyed to Lambeth Vestry and then to Lambeth Borough Council. In 1929 it was enlarged when the site of a glass bottle factory in Whitgift Street was purchased for £700.
Since the late 1970s the recreation ground has been re-landscaped with grassy mounds, pergolas, shrubs and spring bulbs. A water feature and a playground are provided.
Exit into Lambeth High Street and turn right. Cross Lambeth Road to the Garden Museum (admission charge).
The Church of St-Mary-at-Lambeth (now the Garden Museum) dates from 1377 and was restored by Philip Hardwick in the 1850s. Royal gardeners John Tradescant the Elder and John Tradescant the Younger, who introduced many plants to England, are buried here in a hard sandstone tomb with high relief carvings. They established a physic garden in South Lambeth and their collections eventually went to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. The Coade stone sarcophagus of Admiral William Bligh, Captain of the 'Bounty', was erected in 1817.
By 1971 the church was redundant and threatened with demolition, and the churchyard unkempt. In 1977 the Tradescant Trust was formed and campaigned to save the church and turn it into a museum. A replica 17th century knot garden, designed by Lady Salisbury, opened in the churchyard in 1983. The garden features plants of the period, a large climbing musk rose, reputedly the largest in the country, old brick paths, a sundial and retained gravestones. The Garden Museum is open daily 10:30-5 but closed Christmas/New Year. Café, accessible toilet and shop.
St Mary's Garden lies between the Garden Museum and Lambeth Road.
Adjacent to the museum, St Mary's Garden is a small public garden, laid out by Lambeth Borough Council in 1932-3. The site was formerly part of the old road which led to the earlier Lambeth Bridge of 1862, replaced in 1932 by a new bridge to the south. The outer area is grassed with shrubs, the central area paved with a pergola, seating and a water feature.
Beside the church is Lambeth Palace. The main entrance is through Morton's Gateway to the south-west. The gardens are open to the public on occasions.
Go east along Lambeth Road and enter Archbishop's Park to the left opposite number 109.
Since the 13th century, Lambeth Palace has been the London home of the Archbishops of Canterbury and the building incorporates fabric from that time. The gardens and park of the medieval palace originally covered eight hectares, but more than half the land was given over to create Archbishop's Park in the 19th century. The remaining gardens were renovated by Archbishop Laing in the 1920s and a rose terrace was added in the 1930s. There are trees grown from fig cuttings planted in the mid-1550s.The gardens were restored again in 1986-88, largely at the instigation of Rosalind Runcie. The woodland was thinned, a pool created and new features added, including an Elizabethan-style herb and physic garden, a Palladian temple, a pleached lime hedge and a border by Beth Chatto. A Chinese feature by Faith and Geoff Whiten was relocated from the Chelsea Flower Show. More recently, Archbishop George Carey and his wife concentrated on developing the wildlife potential of the garden, planting some 300 native trees and renovating the pond to encourage biodiversity. Future plans include developing the old orchard next to the palace and a wildflower meadow. A number of sculptural works in the garden include 'Girl with Swallows' by David Norris, and 'Mother and Child' by Lesley Emma Pover.
Join here from Sections 2 or 3.
Follow the Millennium Pathway (which has a reddish surface) across Archbishop's Park then continue on the tarmac path to the right.
Archbishop's Park was formerly part of the Bishop of Carlisle's land that was later incorporated into Lambeth Palace garden. In the late 19th century part of the Palace gardens were opened to the poor by Archbishop Tait. Following this, a campaign successfully led to its unrestricted access as a public park. The Millennium Pathway celebrates people, places and events that have made Lambeth special between 1000 and 2000. The southern area of the park is to be re-landscaped with mixed planting in the dry lake-bed area and woodland planting around the edges. There are shelters, a playground, sports areas, tennis courts and trim trail.
Exit into Lambeth Palace Road by St Thomas' Hospital and turn right. Cross at the traffic lights and go past the large road sign. Just beyond the Florence Nightingale Museum (signposted) go up the ramp and continue ahead along the walkway (towards Houses of Parliament) to view the gardens of St Thomas' Hospital.
St Thomas' Hospital, originally in Southwark since the 13th century, was moved to its present site in the 1830s to make way for the construction of London Bridge Station. The northern end was rebuilt after bomb damage in WWII. There are two connected gardens to the right. There are steps between them but the lower garden, with a stainless steel fountain of 1929 by Naum Gabo, can be accessed from the river terrace. Rosa 'Best of Friends' has been planted.
Exit onto Westminster Bridge and cross the road. Wheelchair users should continue along Belvedere Road ahead from where there is ramped access to Jubilee Gardens. Otherwise turn left and down the steps beside the lion to take the Queen's Walk in front of the former County Hall. Refreshment and toilet facilities are available here.
This was a promenade for the 1951 Festival of Britain and was retained as public open space when the Festival finished. In the centre of the County Hall complex is a courtyard with ornamental planting by the Marriott Hotel entrance.
Jubilee Gardens was the site of the Festival's main feature, the Dome of Discovery. Designed by Neville Conder and Stuart Taylor, the gardens were opened by the Queen in 1977. They were closed for five years in the 1990s while the Jubilee Line extension was being built and re-turfed prior to permanent new landscaping.
In December 2010 Lambeth Council approved proposals for re-landscaping Jubilee Gardens, giving the green light to plans to transform this high-profile open space into a new green landmark for London. The planning approval keeps the project on schedule for delivery in time for both the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The 2010 design was developed by landscape architects West 8 and is in essence a lush, green park, with flower beds of the highest quality and over 70 new trees. The overall mission is to create a park which is as soft and green as is sustainable.
Walk across Jubilee Gardens and continue along Belvedere Road to just beyond the railway.
Turn right along Concert Hall Approach, between the railway and The Whitehouse Garden, then back under the railway through Sutton Walk to the right. Cross to Waterloo Station. Wheelchair access is available from Station Approach (follow signs).
The Whitehouse Garden, formerly the Shell Downstream building, is private property but the public are admitted from dawn to dusk. There is a water feature but no seating. Access is by steps only.
Walk prepared by Janet Digby for the London Parks & Gardens Trust, 2006. More London walks by Janet can be found at www.london-footprints.co.uk.
Please be aware of your personal safety when walking. Walking in pairs or groups is recommended.
Use designated road crossings where possible.
A detailed map should be used in conjunction with this walk.
Much of the historical information above comes from the London Parks & Gardens Trust's London Inventory of Historic Green Spaces, a database of over 2,300 sites.
All due care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of information in this walk, which is offered in good faith. Please advise us of any changes or inaccuracies you may encounter by writing to LPGT, Duck Island Cottage, St James's Park, London SW1A 2BJ, or email us.