Inventory Site Record

King William IV Gardens

King William IV Gardens (Bromley)

Brief Description

King William IV Gardens originally formed the forecourt to 3-sided red brick and stone almshouses that opened in 1849. They were founded by Queen Adelaide in memory of her husband William IV and were establish to house twelve widows of naval officers. A deep well was sunk in the grounds and a lodge was built to the south. Various changes took place over the years; in 1973 the residents moved to new almshouses in Hampshire and the site was sold for council housing. The houses were renovated and sold to a private property developer in 1985 and remain in private ownership. The central landscaped garden was retained and is simply laid out, while individual gardens at the rear are more elaborately planted.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
King William IV Naval Asylum; Royal Naval Asylum Penge
Site location:
St John's Road, Penge
SE20 7EG
Type of site:
Private Garden
Open to public?
Opening times:
Special conditions:
Public transport:
Rail: Penge East. London Overground: Penge West. Bus: 194, 227, 352, 358

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/07/2008
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Full Site Description

King William IV Naval Asylum was founded in 1847 by Queen Adelaide in memory of her husband William IV (known as the 'sailor king') as almshouses for twelve widows of naval officers, each of whom would have an endowment of £30 per annum besides the residence. The armorial bearings of the King and Queen were sculpted in sunken panels against the gable ends of the two projecting wings. Forming three sides of a forecourt garden, the red-brick and stone almshouses were built in 1847 by Hayward & Nixon to a design by Philip Hardwick, designer of Euston Arch. The style was Tudor Gothic with many gables and clusters of tall octagonal chimneys, the three groups unified with horizontal string courses and parapets. The almshouses were opened in 1849 and living accommodation was generous with living room, dining room, three bedrooms and a tiny maid's room approached by its own winding staircase. A deep well was sunk in the grounds although this is not visible on the 1st edition OS; a lodge was also built to the south of the almshouses.

In 1906 the curtilege was reduced when Nos. 37-40 Mosslea Road was built, and an addition of a row of houses to the west and a tall wall were built with 99 year leases, the freehold maintained by the Naval Asylum. In 1910 there were 4 houses and the remaining land to the north not yet built on. The original wrought iron railings were removed in 1940 for the war effort. The almshouses remained in the care of King William IV Naval Foundation, but in 1973 they were vacated and residents moved to new almshouses in Southwick, Hampshire. Outline planning permission was given on 12 October 1973 for four 2-storey blocks of 13 2-bedroom flats and 14 garages with 27 parking spaces to be built in the grounds. In 1974 the Naval Asylum was sold for Council housing to the GLC in 1974 for £193,000, transferred to LB Bromley in 1980.

The grounds, as shown in the 1974 plan for the redevelopment, contained trees including a large oak with a diameter up to 1m in the north-east corner where the vehicle access now is. Fruit trees are shown in the north west corner and 6 laburnums in 2 clumps on the north side of the central garden, now gone. After 3 December 1973 a tree survey and planned action for removal of trees was executed, including removal of the large oak, which was diseased. An estimate for re-landscaping works by GLC Parks Dept for £7064 was submitted but it is unclear if this was carried out as there were urgent repairs needed to be made to the houses, which were not habitable. Similarly it is unclear whether other estimates submitted for re-landscaping and for roads and paths in 1977 were ever carried out. In 1983 the houses were renovated and in 1985 were sold to a private property developer, Fortknight Construction; they remain in private ownership with the central landscaped garden retained. The name was changed to King William IV Gardens. Along St John’s Road low brick walls with decayed stone piers and wrought iron gates survive.

There are specimen trees on the lawn including holm oak and holly, and laurel shrubbery. A raised walk with gravel paths runs in front of the building. The almshouses have been private housing since 1985. The communal garden at the front is simply laid out, while individual gardens at the rear are more elaborately planted. Trees include a new holm oak planted in the centre of the gardens to replace a Cedar of Lebanon which had to be removed due to honey fungus, also bay tree, holm oak and sycamore, groups of multi-stemmed holly, laburnum, 2 prunus cerasifera 'nigra', and a row of lilacs in the car park. Groups of shrubs are to the south east of the front lawn, which is mown. The site boundary is brick wall, with green iron gates to the east side, the stone piers in poor condition.

Sources consulted:

B Cherry & N Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England, London 2: South' (1983, reprint 1999) p191; Clive Berridge, The Almshouses of London (Southampton), 1987; Messrs Fortknight Construction selling document c1985; Illustrated London News, 8 December 1849, p378.

LPGT Volunteer Research by Kristina Taylor, 2005

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ353705 (535305,170570)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
King William IV (Penge) Management Ltd
Site management:
King William IV (Penge) Management Ltd
Phillip Hardwick (almshouses)
Listed structures:
LBII*: Almshouses
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:


Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
In Conservation Area:
Conservation Area name:
Penge High Street
Tree Preservation Order:
Yes (4 trees although cedar removed and holm oak may also go)
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:

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