Inventory Site Record

Lady Margaret School

Lady Margaret School (Hammersmith & Fulham)

Brief Description

Lady Margaret School was established here in 1917. It comprises the former grounds of three historic houses, Belfield House, Elm House and Henniker House, which successively became part of the school. Belfield House, the original school building, and Elm House, added in 1937, are set back from the road and the school is fronted by shrubberies and mature trees behind a low brick wall with modern wrought iron railings. Henniker House was added in 1952. Behind the buildings is a courtyard garden with a central lawn surrounded by trees and shrubberies. There are several mature trees, in particular an old walnut tree, a kapuka tree, and a London plane tree in the hard games area. There are several shrubberies with a variety of shrubs and trees, and many potted plants, which enhance the facades of the newer buildings. With the construction of a new building in the grounds in 2010, a new pergola has been created and planted by this building.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Belfield House, Elm House, Henniker House
Site location:
Parson's Green
Type of site:
Institutional Grounds
Hammersmith & Fulham
Open to public?
Opening times:
private. Limited access, access only during fund raising events
Special conditions:
Public transport:
Tube: Parsons Green (District). Bus: 22

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/05/2011
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Full Site Description

Lady Margaret School is a C of E Voluntary Aided comprehensive school for girls aged 11-18, situated on the east side of Parson's Green (q.v.). It comprises the former grounds of three historic houses, Belfield House, Elm House and Henniker House. The development of the school owes much to the first headmistress, Miss Edith Moberly Bell, daughter of the famous Times foreign correspondent and manager. A teacher at Whitelands Training College in Chelsea, when it was decided to close the college Miss Bell led an influential campaign to revive it, and finally a new school opened under her charge at Belfield House. It was reopened by Princess Marie Louise in December 1917 named Lady Margaret School in honour of Lady Margaret Tudor, mother of Henry VII, who was the founder of St John’s and Christ College, Cambridge. It catered for all age groups.

Up to the mid 1800s Fulham was largely rural, relying on growing grass and corn (used for brewing), watercress near the river, grazing cattle, and market gardens supplying London with vegetables. Thomas Faulkner describes it as 'the greatest fruit and kitchen garden north of the Thames'. Parson's Green was long considered the most aristocratic part of Fulham, and the green itself was a grass plot with trees, surrounded by posts and chains, with pathways across it, and edged by imposing houses with large gardens. A pond in the south-east corner was used by horses, dogs and ducks, and by local Baptists for total immersion of converts. The area changed dramatically between 1869 and 1897, from predominantly fields and market gardens to a fairly dense built-up area of housing in response to the industrialisation of the area. By 1916 the nearby Peterborough Estate had been developed for housing, with the loss of many trees.

In the early 1600s Belfield House benefited from a half acre garden; the current house, c.1800, is in Queen Anne style and has a central portico with classical columns either side of which are bay windows. In the late C18th and early C19th it was the home of the famous 'Mrs Jordan', the actress Dorothy Bland who was mistress of the Duke of Clarence, later William IV. They had 10 children and lived together at Belfield House until 1811 when the King insisted his sons married to produce a legitimate heir. In 1820 the house was purchased by Squire Daniel; it was sold in 1864 to Grant Tod-Heatly but remained empty for many years and fell into disrepair until 1890 when Theodore Roussel purchased it. In 1920 a new Hall was constructed in the grounds and called Moberly Hall after the headmistress. In 1927 the benefactor, Valentine Chirol, had two new classrooms built.

Elm House became part of Lady Margaret School in 1937 although between 1803-1811 the Revd. William Pearson had began a seminary or school for young gentlemen here. It then became a Roman Catholic school under various owners, Francis Quequet, Henry Daniel, Owen Morrice, Revd. William Richard Morrice, but in 1832 was broken up. In 1848 the building was purchased by Squire Daniel, and in 1854 by Colonel Jebb. However, it lay empty for many years until in 1890 it was converted into a School of Discipline for Girls, a Roman Catholic institution. In 1937 the school moved out and Elm House was acquired by Lady Margaret School. The building was refurbished, and renamed Lupton House, in honour of Anne Lupton, who had been instrumental in acquiring the building for the school. Elm House was described in 1792 as a ‘large and convenient house with orchard and gardens, well planted, stables, coach house and outhouses with a row of large elms planted before the gates'. By the early 1900s these elm trees seem to have disappeared and from photographs taken in the late 1930s the gardens appear to have been laid out in a rather formal pattern of grassed areas, straight pathways and regular plantings of trees and shrubs.

Henniker House was incorporated into Lady Margaret School in 1952. Three successive houses had existed on this site, the original house, known as ‘Stoutes tenement' dating from 1391. During the reign of William III in the late 1600s this was replaced by a handsome mansion called Albion House, which was used as a school. In 1830 the building was demolished and another residence, Park House, was erected in 1841 by Thomas Cubitt, which in the late C19th was taken by the Fulham Board of Guardians to house pauper children. This was demolished in 1889 and replaced by Henniker House, named after Jane Livesey Henniker, the first woman member of Fulham Board of Guardians. After 1920 the Guardians’ functions were transferred to the LCC, which retained the children’s home until 1951. The building was used for a short while as an old people’s home before it was purchased and incorporated into Lady Margaret School in 1952. The house is of plain monochrome Italianate design, constructed in buff stock bricks with plain dressed stone reveals. The acquisition of Henniker House and its garden in 1952 provided the space to build an Assembly Hall in its grounds. The house was renamed the Moberly Bell House, after the founder, benefactor and first headmistress of the school.

Over the years the school has been extended into the grounds behind the historic houses. The Kindergarten room, along with the end of Belfield House adjoining Elm House, was demolished in order that the archway and classrooms that now connect the two houses could be built. In 1994 the Technology Block and in 1997 the Teaching Block were constructed, prior to which an archaeological evaluation was conducted that revealed remains of post-medieval garden features, together with evidence of a prehistoric settlement, in the form of Bronze Age to middle Iron Age. These appear to represent an enclosed domestic settlement with small-scale craft activity, probably for local consumption. It is most likely that the inhabitants grew their own wheat and barley, and the pottery remains are also presumably of local origin. It was probably a ditched enclosure, set within fields of corn, containing round houses with their respective storage pits.

The school chapel has a chequered history. The first chapel was created by transforming the laundry at the bottom of the garden of Elm House next door, and blessed and dedicated in 1920. In 1932 the chapel was removed and housed in a prefabricated building in the gardens for 6 years. Then on acquiring Elm House in 1937, the small garden house was converted into a chapel. By virtue of an anonymous donation the school chapel was rebuilt in 1938, with two stained glass windows, depicting Lady Margaret Tudor and Bishop John Maud, made by Miss Howson, a one-time Mayor of Fulham as well as an accomplished artist. The chapel is now housed on the first floor of Elm House.

The school currently benefits from several garden areas: a courtyard garden, shrubberies, new plantings, ivy-clad walls and pots of plants outside the main buildings, creating a colourful and attractive environment. Modern wrought iron railings on low brick walls form the boundary of the school to the street, and in front of the buildings around the small car parking area are various shrubberies, which contain among others a mature cherry tree, large conifers, prunus tree, rhododendrons, viburnum, berberis, buddleia, forsythia, pyracantha, hawthorn, and ceanothus. The courtyard garden, formed from the gardens of Belfield House and Elm House, is now bounded by the rear of the three historic houses, the assembly hall and technology block, the gymnasium, and the teaching block. When the LCC approved the building of a new Assembly Hall together with a gym in 1957, it stipulated that the garden should be concreted over to provide a play area for the pupils. The then headmistress resisted this strongly and won out, thus preserving the garden area. Inevitably some trees were felled during the building project but photographic evidence from the mid 1960s shows that a number of mature trees were retained. Three old trees feature near the historic houses, a walnut tree, an ash tree and a Griselinia Littoralis (Kapuka), which is an exceptionally large specimen and native to the coastal regions of New Zealand. The garden has a circular format surrounded by paved and concrete paths. At the centre of the garden is a lawn with seat and birdbath, the lawn bordered by shrubberies and trees including mature ash, olive, mature conifers, holly, rhododendrons, berberis, forsythia, witch-hazel, magnolia, viburnum, ground cover and ivy. Three trees have been planted in the last ten years in memory of pupils who died during this period. A feature of this garden is a sculpture from Zimbabwe 'Models' by David Mashoko, which was donated to the school by Joan Olivier, a former headmistress, on her retirement in 2006. Another sculpture, ‘Mother and Child’ by the famous sculptor, Willi Soukop, was commissioned by the school and installed in 1957 on the terrace outside the assembly hall.

A pathway between the Technology Block and the Teaching Block leads to the hard standing games area, which stretches the width of the site. The feature of this area is a beautiful large London plane tree and a few mature plane trees are found on the boundaries. On the furthest side of the games areas is the Olivier Centre, built in 2010 on the site of the caretaker’s house, and the 'Secret Garden' at the Irene Road entrance. The latter was in fact the garden on the plot purchased in 2004/2005 for the construction of the Olivier Centre, and for a few years pupils were able to use this as a quiet haven for picnics and other activities. A pergola was created in October 2010 outside the Olivier Centre and is planted with lonicera.

There are plans to expand the number of pupils from the current 650 to some 890 within a few years. This will necessarily involve further development on the school site. Consideration is being given to purchasing and developing the rear section of the NHS Health Centre site next to the school. A planning brief was published by LBHF in February 2010, providing strict guidelines on any further developments and extensions to the school site.

Sources consulted:

Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 3: North West' (Penguin, 1999 ed) p.246; E M Bell 'The History of Lady Margaret School', 1946, 1967; Graham Bruce, 'An Iron Age settlement at Lady Margaret School, Parson’s Green, Fulham', 1996; Barbara Denny, 'A History of Fulham', 1990; Thomas Faulkner, 'History of Fulham', 1813; Charles James Feret, 'Fulham Old and New', Vol II, 1900; LB Hammersmith & Fulham, Lady Margaret School Planning Brief, February 2010; Brian H Owen, 'A Particularly Happy Place', 1992; Edward Walford, 'Old and New London', Volume 6, (Cassell & Co., c.1885/6)..

LPGT Volunteer Research by Paula Hart, 2011.

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ251765 (525160,176570)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
Lady Margaret School Foundation
Site management:
Lady Margaret School Foundation
Listed structures:
LBII: No. 11 Parsons Green (formerly Elm House, now Lupton House); Nos. 13 & 15 Parsons Green (Belfield House) both now part of Lady Margaret School. Local list: No. 9 Parsons Green (formerly Henniker House, now Moberley Bell 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:
Parson’s Green
Tree Preservation Order:
Yes - London plane
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Yes - Archaeological Priority Area
Other LA designation:

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