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Inventory Site Record

Convent of the Assumption Garden (Kensington & Chelsea)

Brief Description

Grounds of the Maria Assumpta Centre, built on the site of two former bishops' palaces, where the earliest plan of a garden dates from 1766. In 1859 the Sisters of the Assumption were invited by Cardinal Wiseman to open a house of Prayer at Kensington Square. They established a girls boarding school there in 1865, adding the Elementary School in 1870 and the Chapel in 1870/1. Other buildings were added over the years with different functions including a domestic training centre for young women, the first Montessori school, a primary school and a teacher training college. In 1978 the Maria Assumpta Centre was formed, providing educational and pastoral facilities. The garden has a variety of trees including mulberry, plane and fruit trees, and a Lourdes-style grotto.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Maria Assumpta Centre
Site location:
21-23 Kensington Square/14 South End
Postcode:
W8
What 3 Words:
wins.inner.appear
Type of site:
Private Garden
Borough:
Kensington & Chelsea
Open to public?
Occasionally
Opening times:
open to users of the Centre and has opened for OGSW Has taken part in Open Garden Squares Weekend in the past.
Special conditions:
Facilities:
Events:
Public transport:
Tube: High Street Kensington (District, Circle). Bus: 9, 10, 27, 28, 31, 49
Research updated:
01/10/2007
Last minor changes:
19/07/2023

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

Full Site Description

The Maria Assumpta Centre occupies a corner of Kensington Square (q.v.). The convent was built on the site of two former bishops' palaces, the earliest plan of the garden here dates from 1766. In 1859 the Sisters of the Assumption then based in Earl's Court, were invited by Cardinal Wiseman to open a House of Prayer at Kensington Square. They established a girls boarding school there in 1865, adding the Elementary School in 1870 and the Chapel in 1870/1. The Chapel, on 21-22 Kensington Square, was built to designs by George Goldie and Child, with frescoes by Westlake although later damaged by a fire in 1957. The main building on 23 Kensington Square consists of 2 early Victorian houses for which Goldie designed additional buildings in 1875, with a single storey gallery across the front of the two houses and containing the main entrance probably added in 1925. By 1915 a domestic training centre for young women was opened. In 1921 the first Montessori school opened in England and Madame Montessori lectured at the Maria Assumpta Centre from time to time.

During World War II the centre was evacuated and used as a Civil Defence headquarters, the Montessori School and Our Lady of Victories Primary School re-opening in 1945. In 1946 the Maria Assumpta Teacher Training College was founded and the Primary School moved in 1956 to Clareville Street, and the Montessori School closed in 1959 as the college needed more space. Following reorganisation of teacher training, the College closed in 1978 and the Maria Assumpta Centre was formed, leasing its facilities to educational and pastoral organisations, providing residential accommodation for young women students, providing conference and rehearsal rooms to like-minded organisations.

The garden has a variety of trees including mulberry, plane and fruit trees, with a Lourdes-style grotto, shrubberies, climbing plants, herbaceous borders as well as animals.

Sources consulted:

Maria Assumpta Centre leaflet; RBKC Kensington Square Conservation Area Proposals Statement (nd)

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ257795 (525710,179360)
Size in hectares:
0.3
Site ownership:
Maria Assumpta Centre
Site management:
Maria Assumpta Centre
Date(s):
1766; 1860s/70s
Designer(s):
Listed structures:
LBII: 20-22 Kensington Square (including Chapel), 23 Kensington Square (Convent)
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:
No
In Conservation Area:
Yes
Conservation Area name:
Kensington Square
Tree Preservation Order:
No
Nature Conservation Area:
No
Green Belt:
No
Metropolitan Open Land:
No
Special Policy Area:
No
Other LA designation:
None

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.