Inventory Site Record

Chelsea Square (Kensington & Chelsea)

Brief Description

Chelsea Square is a private square that was laid out from 1810 as Trafalgar Square, although building proceeded slowly and was never completed around the central garden. In the early C20th the garden was leased to a tennis club. Renamed Chelsea Square, the south and eastern sides were rebuilt in the 1930s in neo-Georgian style. Along South Parade a line of mature trees set on a stepped plinth may survive from the former Trafalgar Gardens. The gardens today have lawn, shrubberies to railings, trees and flower beds.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Trafalgar Square
Site location:
Chelsea Square
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Garden Square
Kensington & Chelsea
Open to public?
Opening times:
private but visible from public road
Special conditions:
Public transport:
Tube: South Kensington (Circle, District, Piccadilly)
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Full Site Description

By the early C17th, grand houses had been established around the old village of Chelsea, already the site of properties such as Sir Thomas More's Beaufort House. In subsequent decades more building took place both along the river as well as further inland particularly up Church Lane, now Old Church Street, which developed northwards to the Queen's Elm. This is where Queen Elizabeth I is supposed to have sheltered from the rain with Lord Burghley and the 'Queen's Tree' was recorded as early as 1586 and an arbour built around it. In the early C16th an area between Duke's Walk and Lovers' Walk called 'Sand Hill' was part of Sir Thomas More's estate. In 1664 it became Lord Wharton's Park after the then owner, and after Wharton sold his property in 1714 it became known as Chelsea Park. By c.1718 it had been purchased for a mulberry garden with the purpose of manufacturing raw silk but the venture failed, and Chelsea Park was gradually built over for housing; Park Walk was developed from Lovers' Walk in the late C18th and the Camera Square area developed in the early C19th. During the C19th Chelsea Park was increasingly eroded as Elm Park Road and Elm Park Lane were developed and by 1894 the park and its mansion were gone.

This square was laid out from 1810 as Trafalgar Square but building developed very slowly, although the rectangular garden was laid out in 1810. While the north side and north end of the eastern side of the square were developed by 1836, even by 1865 only one other house had been added to the east side; by the end of the C19th the southern half was still flanked by 2 large houses, a joinery works and a stone yard. In 1928, ownership of the central garden enclosure was listed as Earl Cadogan or his Trustees and leased to a Mr W Garlick until Christmas of that year, who had under-leased it to the Chelsea Lawn Tennis Club. As a result at that time the garden was laid out as tennis courts, and it was surrounded by a privet hedge on a raised bed to obscure views of the interior from outside.

In the late 1930s, as original leases came up for renewal, Trafalgar Square was redeveloped as Chelsea Square, which was designed by architect Darcy Braddell in a demure neo-Georgian style of purple-brown brick with red brick dressings and green pantiled hipped roofs. Careful attention was paid to detailing particularly around the entrances. Stone flags survive on the eastern perimeter of the garden square and the main western pavement. Two houses by Oliver Hill are in the south-west of the square linked by original screen walls and at the north end is a two-storey mews terrace fronted by South Parade. Here the line of mature trees set on a stepped plinth probably survive from the former Trafalgar Gardens, the plinth indicative of the original garden ground level.

Sources consulted:

Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 3: North West' (Penguin, 1999 ed); RBKC Chelsea Park Carlyle Conservation Area Proposals Statement, 1992; Report of the Royal Commission on London Square, 1928

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ269782 (526931,178224)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
private (Cadogan Estate?)
Site management:
1810 onwards; 1930s
Listed structures:
LBII*: No 40 Chelsea Square. LBII: No (39 or 41?) Chelsea Square; 18 South Parade (Fire Station)
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:
Chelsea Park Carlyle
Tree Preservation Order:
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:

Chelsea Square

Chelsea Square - trees surviving from Trafalgar Square? - Photo: Colin Wing
Date taken: 30/04/21 10:06

Click a photo to enlarge.

More photos

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