Inventory Site Record

Chelsea Embankment Gardens (Kensington & Chelsea)

Brief Description

Chelsea Embankment Gardens consist of two strips of garden either side of Albert Bridge, created c.1874 when the Thames was embanked under the supervision of Sir Joseph Bazalgette when land was reclaimed and the road constructed. The two garden areas have ornamental bedding, paths and seating, with shrubbery backing Cheyne Walk, and within each section are a number of statues commemorating famous local residents such as the painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti, writer and historian Thomas Carlyle and composer Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Practical Information
Site location:
Chelsea Embankment/Cheyne Walk
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Public Gardens
Kensington & Chelsea
Open to public?
Opening times:
Special conditions:
Public transport:
Tube: Sloane Square (District, Circle)
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

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

Full Site Description

Embankment of the River Thames was first proposed in 1839 by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests to provide a much-needed new road as well as extra sewerage, but work did not begin until the 1850s along the Pimlico frontage. Lack of funding halted the scheme until 1871 when William Webster was appointed as contractor under the supervision of Sir Joseph Bazalgette, Chief Engineer to the Metropolitan Board of Works (MBW). The MBW had been set up in 1855, and was later to become the London County Council (LCC). The land was reclaimed and the road constructed, with work completed as far as Battersea Bridge by 1874. Chelsea Embankment was officially opened in May 1874 by Lieutenant Col Sir James MacNaughton Hogg, Chairman of the MBW. The embankment west of Battersea Bridge was not embanked despite an Enabling Bill introduced by the LCC in 1896 due to strong objections locally and the Chelsea Vestry carried out minor improvements at the time. In the 1950s the Metropolitan Borough of Chelsea undertook further improvements.

The portion of Chelsea Embankment Gardens north of Albert Bridge was laid out by the MBW in c.1874, and consists of two strips of landscaping. Each garden area has lawn, ornamental bedding, paths and seating, with shrubbery backing Cheyne Walk. There are a number of statues in each area commemorating people who had lived nearby, including the Pre-Raphaelite Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-82) and the writer and historian Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881).

In the east section of the gardens is the figure of The Boy David by Edward Bainbridge Copnall on a tall granite pillar (1971) and a memorial drinking fountain to Dante Gabriel Rossetti designed by the architect J P Seddon with a bronze bust of the artist by Ford Maddox Brown (1887). More recently a memorial bust of composer Ralph Vaughn Williams (1872-1958) has been installed in the gardens, the work of sculptor Marcus Cornish. Vaughan Williams lived at 13 Cheyne Walk from 1905-29 where he composed some of the works for which he became renowned.

In the west section is Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm's statue of Thomas Carlyle of 1882 near which is the base of the memorial to philanthropist and campaigner Margaret Damer Dawson (1873-1920) with carved dove. Carlyle lived with his wife Jane in a Queen Anne house nearby in Cheyne Row from 1834-81. Carlyle's House (q.v.) was purchased by public subscription in 1895 and the Carlyle's House Memorial Trust was formed to administer it. Opened to the public in 1896, Carlyle’s House was later transferred to the National Trust in 1936.

Sources consulted:

Thames Conservation Area Proposals Statement; Pevsner; 'The London County Council and what it does for London: London Parks and Open Spaces' (Hodder & Stoughton, 1924)

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ274776 (527350,177640)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
RB Kensington & Chelsea
Site management:
Leisure Services, Parks and Open Spaces
Listed structures:
LBII: Carlyle statue; Rossetti memorial; lamp standard at west end; Cheyne Walk - Nos. 2, 3, 7-11, 17-22, 38, 39, 46-48, 50, 62 and forecourt railings, gates and gatepiers to 2, 3, 17, 19-24, 20A, 46-48
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:
Tree Preservation Order:
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Yes - Archaeological Priority Area (Thames)
Other LA designation:
Thames Policy Area. Site of Metropolitan Importance

Chelsea Embankment Gardens

Chelsea Embankment Gardens - statue of Thomas Carlyle - Photo: Colin Wing
Date taken: 07/09/20 11:24

Click a photo to enlarge.

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