London Parks & Gardens Trust

Clockwise Kensington Walk

Roof Gardens

Roof Gardens

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Directions

Turn left on leaving Holland House, cross the broad path (Holland Walk) and continue straight ahead along a short path leading to Duchess of Bedford's Walk. Follow this street to the bottom and continue nearly straight ahead down Holland Street, with the Town Hall on your right. Turn right into Hornton Street, keeping the Town Hall on your right, with public toilets near the exit from the car park. Turn left at Kensington High Street, passing the Underground station on the opposite side. Cross the road at the next crossing, turn left and then right into Derry Street. On the right is the entrance to The Roof Gardens, which are on the sixth floor of the building labelled 99 Kensington High Street.

Description

The Roof Gardens, among the earliest in England, were built for the new Derry and Toms Department Store, which opened in 1933. The Gardens were conceived by Vice-President of Barkers Trevor Bowen, who employed landscape architect Ralph Handcock to realise his vision and comprised 3 gardens from the outset: Spanish Garden, English Woodland Garden and Tudor Courtyard. Opened in May 1938 by the Earl of Athlone, the gardens became a popular attraction. Owned by Biba in the 1970s, and by Richard Branson since 1982, the Gardens are now part of Virgin Limited Edition and host a members' club, a private function venue and, since 2001, the Babylon Restaurant on the 7th floor, which overlooks the gardens. They were extensively replanted in 2008/9 and are still home to exotic wildfowl including pink flamingos. The Spanish Garden is now planted in the style of the 1950s, while the Tudor Courtyard is based on the Biba ethos and planting from the 1970s. The English Woodland is being managed as a C21st environmental and wildlife garden.