Inventory Site Record

Burgh House Garden (Camden)

Brief Description

Burgh House is a detached Queen Anne house built in 1703-4, now a meeting place and venue, and houses Hampstead Museum. From 1906-24 it was the home of art specialist and author Dr George Williamson, who in 1908 commissioned Gertrude Jekyll to design the garden behind the house. Now largely built over, all that remains from her design is the terrace with millstones set into the path. Following WWII Burgh House was purchased by Hampstead Borough Council and reopened in 1947.It was later leased to Burgh House Trust. In 1979 the sloping terraced garden had become derelict and was restored, planted with over 100 varieties of plants. Improvements to the garden continued in the 1980s with plants favoured by Jekyll introduced.

Practical Information
Site location:
New End Square
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Private Garden
Open to public?
Opening times:
Wed-Sun 12-5pm (Sat by arrangement); Bank holidays 2-5pm.
Took part in Open Garden Squares Weekend in 2013.
Special conditions:
Shop, Buttery café (Tues-Fri 11am-5.30pm; Sat/Sun 9.30am- 5pm) Hampstead Museum
Numerous events and exhibitions. Has opened for London Open House
Public transport:
Tube: Hampstead (Northern). London Overground: Hampstead Heath. Bus: 210, 268, 46, C11, 24, 168.
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.burghhouse.org.uk

Full Site Description

Burgh House is a detached Queen Anne house built in 1703-4 for Henry and Hannah Sewell, and has some original panelling and 'barley sugar' balusters. In the 1720s it was the home of the Spa physician Dr William Gibbons whose initials are on the wrought-iron entrance gates, which with the flanking wall date from the C18th. Gibbons enlarged the house to the rear c.1720. Between 1858 and 1881 Burgh House became the headquarters and Officers' Mess of the Royal East Middlesex Militia. In 1884 stained glass designer Thomas Grylls lived here with his family and from 1906-24 Dr George Williamson occupied the house, a renowned art specialist particularly in portrait miniatures, and author of numerous books. In 1908 he commissioned Gertrude Jekyll to design the garden behind the house, although this is now largely built over. All that remains is the terrace that has millstones set into the path from Jekyll's designs.

In 1925 Captain Constantine Benson purchased the house and replaced Dr Williamson's library with a single-storey music room, with panelling said to come from Weatherall House, formerly adjoining, and before that from the Long Room of the nearby Spa. From 1934 the tenants were Captain George Bambridge and his wife who was the daughter of Rudyard Kipling, who visited here shortly before his death. Following WWII Burgh House was purchased by Hampstead Borough Council and re-opened in 1947. It later became a Camden Council community centre but was again closed in 1977 when dry rot was discovered in the building. Threatened with losing the house, local residents formed a charitable trust, raised £50,000, and were granted a lease for the house, which re-opened on 8 September 1979 as the house and museum that is here today. Burgh House Trust continue to run it as a meeting place, concert and exhibition venue, and it also houses the Hampstead Museum of local history.

The terraced garden south of the house is on a steep slope with the boundary wall on the west side and the entrance gates to Burgh House at the top. By 1979 this garden had become derelict but it was restored by enthusiastic volunteers in time for the opening of Burgh House on 8 September 1979, with over 100 varieties of plants planted. Improvements to the garden continued in the 1980s and in later phases of work plants favoured by Jekyll were added, such as old varieties of rose, and there were plans for a white and gold border on the east side. In recent years further improvements to the house have taken place, including a new extension and enhancements to bring the Museum up to modem standards. The £800,000 scheme was supported by The Heritage Lottery Fund, Bridge House Trust and local benefactors, and was formally opened to the public on 16 July 2006.

Sources consulted:

Open House 2001 booklet; Mary Henderson 'The Story of Burgh House Garden' (c.1984); 'Burgh House & Hampstead Local History Museum: History and Guide' (c.2002)

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ266859 (526613,185940)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
Burgh House Trust
Site management:
Burgh House Trust; Friends of Burgh House
1704 (house); 1908 (garden)
Gertrude Jekyll (1908)
Listed structures:
LBI: Burgh House. LBII: Entrance gates and flanking wall to Burgh House
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:
Hampstead Village
Tree Preservation Order:
Not known
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Yes - Area of Special Character: Hampstead & Highgate Ridge
Other LA designation:

Burgh House Garden

Burgh House Garden, from front door of house, August 2002. Photo: S Williams

Burgh House, from lower terrace, May 2013.

Click a photo to enlarge.

More photos

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