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Inventory Site Record

Whitfield Gardens (Camden)

Brief Description

This small public garden was once the site of a large pond called The Little Sea. In 1756-58 it became the site for Whitfield's Tabernacle and Almshouses, and Whitfield's half-acre Burial Ground, which was in two parts, one each side of the Tabernacle. In 1853 it was closed to burials and cleared in 1856. The LCC acquired the site in 1894 and in 1895 opened it as a public garden, laid out as a smaller area with a central path and a larger tar-paved area surrounded by planted borders. In the early C21st it was substantially re-landscaped by Camden Council.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Whitfield's Burial Ground
Site location:
Whitfield Street/Tottenham Court Road
Postcode:
W1
What 3 Words:
pounds.active.simple
Type of site:
Public Gardens
Borough:
Camden
Open to public?
Yes
Opening times:
unrestricted
Special conditions:
Facilities:
Events:
Public transport:
Tube: Goodge Street (Northern). Bus: 10, 24, 29, 73, 134.
Research updated:
01/06/2012
Last minor changes:
19/07/2023

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.camden.gov.uk

Full Site Description

A small paved public garden with seats and some mature London planes close to the junction of Tottenham Street and Tottenham Court Road, next to the American Church. Once the site of a large pond called The Little Sea, in 1756-58 it became the site for Whitfield's Tabernacle and Almshouses, rebuilt twice during the C19th, and Whitfield's half-acre Burial Ground. There were two portions of the burial ground, on each side of Whitefield's Tabernacle. The burial ground was closed in 1853 having proved to be a source of constant local nuisance and the haunt of body-snatchers, and it was cleared in 1856. Among those buried here were John Bacon R.A. sculptor, and Rev. Augustus Montague Toplady, author of the hymn 'Rock of Ages'.

The LCC obtained the power to purchase the site in 1889 but did not acquire it until 1894, half the cost of purchase and layout met by St Pancras Vestry. The smaller garden was a narrow strip with a central path and the larger garden had a tar-paved area surrounded by borders with flowers and ornamental shrubs. In February 1895 it was opened as a public garden. A mural by Stephen Pusey was painted on the adjoining gable wall in early 1980s. In the early C21st the site was modernised in order to make it a focus for the area, the plans for which were made by Camden Council in partnership with local groups and organisations. Illustrated panels depicting the history of the area were installed in the gardens, but have now been removed.

Sources consulted:

'The London County Council and what it does for London: London Parks and Open Spaces' (Hodder & Stoughton, 1924); W E Brown, 'North Fitzrovia', Camden History Society, 1981; Charlotte Street Conservation Area Character Appraisal and Management Plan, Nathanial Lichfield & Partners, 2008

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ294818 (529475,181863)
Size in hectares:
0.1034
Site ownership:
LB Camden
Site management:
Parks & Open Spaces. Friends of the Parks of Fitzrovia
Date(s):
Churchyard: C18th. Garden: 1894/5; C20th
Designer(s):
Listed structures:
None
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

No
Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

No
Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:

No

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:
Yes
In Conservation Area:
Yes
Conservation Area name:
Charlotte Street
Tree Preservation Order:
Not known
Nature Conservation Area:
No
Green Belt:
No
Metropolitan Open Land:
No
Special Policy Area:
Yes Area of Special Character: Central London Area
Other LA designation:
Public Open Space (Small Local). Strategic View Corridor
Photos

Whitfield Gardens

Whitfield Gardens with Illustrated information panels, June 2008. Photo: S Williams

Whitfield Gardens Illustrated information panels, March 2010. Photo: S Williams
2010
Whitfield Gardens, View towards Tottenham Court Road, June 2008. Photo: S Williams
2008
Whitfield's Tabernacle reproduced from Mrs Basil Holmes, 'The London Burial Grounds', 1896
1896

Click a photo to enlarge.

Please note the Inventory and its content are provided for your general information only and are subject to change. It is your responsibility to check the accuracy.