Inventory Site Record

Cranley Gardens (Kensington & Chelsea)

Brief Description

These private communal gardens were provided for residents of Onslow Gardens, the rear of whose houses abut the garden. They were built between 1863-78 as part of the Henry Smith's Charity Estate. The Trustees of the Estate began building on the estate from 1823, appointing George Basevi as architect in 1828. He was followed by Henry Clutton and later Charles James Freake.

Practical Information
Site location:
Old Brompton Road
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Private Garden
Kensington & Chelsea
Open to public?
Opening times:
Special conditions:
Public transport:
Tube: South Kensington (District, Circle, Piccadilly)
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

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

Full Site Description

By the C17th the land in this area was largely owned by Henry Smith's Charity Estate, with part owned by the Thurloe Estate. Henry Smith, Alderman of London, had died in 1628 and left his fortune in trust for charity. The Trustees bought the estate c.1630 but the first recorded lease was not until 1664. A wedge of land within the Charity's Estate was owned by descendants of Sir William Blake (d.1630) and became the Thurloe Estate when Blake's descendant Anna Maria Browne conveyed it to John Thurloe Brace, her second husband, on their marriage in 1713. He was grandson to John Thurloe (1616-1668) Oliver Cromwell's Secretary of State. Two other parcels of land at the west of the Smith's Charity Estate by Sallad Lane separated a section of the estate lands, part of Brompton Heath and later the site of Evelyn Gardens, from the main estate land. The Trustees of Henry Smith were granted building leases by an Act of Parliament in 1772. Following the Napoleonic Wars the rapid development of areas of London began in earnest, including in this area of Kensington, which the Trustees of Henry Smith's Charity began to develop in 1823, appointing George Basevi as architect in 1828 and subsequently Henry Clutton from 1845. Clutton was succeeded by Charles James Freake, later Sir Charles, who built the extensive layout of large houses here from 1865.

This communal garden abuts the rear of houses in Onslow Gardens, built between 1863 and 1878. In 1928 the garden was described as an 'oblong enclosure flanked on three sides by roads and on one long side by the rear of buildings. Laid out as an ornamental garden with a thick shrubbery and trees around the border.' It was maintained by a Garden Committee and was provided for the use of lessees of adjoining houses, who paid a proportion of the expenses.

Sources consulted:

RBKC Thurloe Estate and Smith's Charity Conservation Area Policy Statement; Report of Royal Commission on London Squares 1928

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ265783 (526490,178440)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
Smith's Charity Estate? Wellcome Trust
Site management:
Garden Committee?
Listed structures:
LBII: 1-11 (odd) and 2-54 (even) Cranley Gardens
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:
Thurloe Estate and Smith's Charity
Tree Preservation Order:
Yes - Area of trees
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:

Cranley Gardens

Cranley Gardens - Photo: Colin Wing
Date taken: 30/04/21 10:43

Click a photo to enlarge.

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