Inventory Site Record

Holland Park * (Kensington & Chelsea)

Brief Description

* on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens

The public park is on part of the former extensive estate of Holland House, which once covered c.500 acres. Among those who advised on design and planting were William Kent and Charles Hamilton. Eroded for housing development from the 1820s, the remaining grounds of the house, which had been badly damaged in WWII bombing, were sold by the then owner, the sixth Earl of Ilchester to the LCC for a public park, which opened in 1952. Some remnants of the former estate's built structures remain in the park including its C19th Stable, Lodge, Ice House and elements of the landscaping and formal gardens are still visible, such as the Dutch Garden and Iris Garden, Lime Walk and woodland area. Over the years various sports and recreational facilities have been added, including an open air theatre, and a Japanese garden.

Practical Information
Site location:
Holland Park/Abbotsbury Road/High Street Kensington
W8 6LU
Type of site:
Public Park
Kensington & Chelsea
Open to public?
Opening times:
7.30am - dusk
Special conditions:
Charges for some activities (annual membership for sports facilities available).
Mobility Scooters. Ecology Centre activities. Belvedere Restaurant, Ice House, Orangery. Sports: cricket, football, golf, netball, tennis. One o'clock club, Play Park
Open Air Theatre; exhibitions in The Orangery and the Ice House. Activities run by Friends of Holland Park.
Public transport:
Tube: Holland Park (Central), High Street Kensington (District, Circle). Bus: 9, 9a, 10, 19, 27, 28, 31, 49, C1
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

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

Full Site Description

Site on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens, for Register Entry see https://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list. The Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England was established in 1984 and was commonly called English Heritage. In April 2015 it split into 2 separate entities, Historic England (HE), which continues to champion and protect the historic environment, and the English Heritage Trust, whose role is to look after the 400+ historic sites and monuments owned by the state. HE manages the National Heritage List for England (NHLE) that includes over 400,000 items ranging from prehistoric monuments to office blocks, battlefields and parks, which benefit from legal protection.

At its greatest extent the Holland estate was around 500 acres, almost reaching Fulham Road. In the late C18th it comprised c.200 acres surrounding Holland House, which had been built in 1605 for Sir Walter Cope when it was known as Cope Castle. It was enlarged in 1638-40 for Cope's son-in-law Henry Rich, who had become Earl of Holland in 1624. A Royalist, he was beheaded in the Civil War and Holland House was used by General Sir Thomas Fairfax, but eventually passed to the Edwardes family who became the Barons of Kensington. In 1746 it was leased to Henry Fox by the Edwardes family, and then purchased by him in 1768, by which time he had become the first Lord Holland of Fowley. He was father of the radical politician Charles James Fox, whose nephew Henry Richard later became the third Baron and through C18th and C19th the house became renowned as a place for political, intellectual and literary discussion. By 1822 the estate was running at a loss and from 1823, due to the financial difficulties of the third Baron (d.1840) and Baroness (d.1845), parts of the land began to be let for building development, as London developed westward. This continued under the fourth Lord Holland (d.1859), who was keen to retain his house, which was restored for him in 1853 by Decimus Burton. Large scale development of the Addison Road area was undertaken by various builders, principally James Hall although he was bankrupted in 1864. In 1863 development by Charles Chambers and H J Bartley of the area between Holland Road and the railway began, and John Beattie and Harry Dowding developed westwards of Holland Road. From 1859 William and Francis Radford began the grander development now known as Holland Park, having already been involved in developing Pembridge Gardens and Square (q.q.v). Building immediately adjacent to Holland House itself was only prevented when a relative of the fourth Lady Holland, the Earl of Ilchester, took over and subsidised the estate in 1874 and granted her a life annuity.

After her death in 1889, the Earl and his successors lived at Holland House until 1940, when the house was largely destroyed as a result of bombing, although the south front survives to single storey height and the East Wing to full height, and is now part of the YMCA hostel (see Holland House Garden q.v.). By the 1950s further parts of the estate had already been lost to building, including the south-west corner and Little Holland House, and the home farm. The sixth Earl of Ilchester sold what remained of the house and grounds to the London County Council for use as a public park, which was later transferred to the Greater London Council, and then to Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in 1986.

In 1958 an Act of Parliament enabled the building of the Commonwealth Institute (q.v.) on land leased at the south of the estate adjoining Kensington High Street. Also remaining are the C19th Stable to the south-west and the Lodge on Abbotsbury Road. Henry Rich may have been responsible for the Wilderness north of the house by the mid-C17th, with formal hedged paths in woodland, but in 1747 William Kent advised Henry Fox on the landscaping. Later Charles Hamilton advised on tree planting and by 1753 66 species of exotic trees had been planted. The Dutch Garden and Iris Garden, which still remain, were formed in 1812 west-south-west of Holland House, and the Lime Walk running east-west across the northern woodland dates from 1876. In the mid to late C19th part of the estate was sold off for building and the present park was opened to the public in 1952. It comprises woodland with paths and open glades north of Holland House, the Arboretum to the north-west of the house, and formal gardens to west-south-west.

Over the years numerous sports and recreational facilities and an open air theatre to the south of the house have been added. Recreational facilities now include children’s play areas, with an under eights' area; sports facilities, including tennis courts, football pitch, netball court, cricket nets and golf bunker; there is a cafeteria, ecology centre, formal and informal gardens, grassed areas and woodlands, and dog run. The park is popular for its many events, which include opera performances at Holland Park Theatre. Friends of Holland Park was formed in 1978 and has a newsletter, numerous events such as monthly bird walks, tree walks, concerts, carol concerts, an annual art exhibition in the Orangery, a party with raffle, talks, Antiques Road Show in the autumn. The Ice House for the Holland Estate has been transformed into a well-lit and well equipped contemporary exhibition space used for presenting small scale works with an annual programme of exhibitions which runs from Spring to Autumn. The park has been the venue for outdoor sculpture including a Millennium exhibition, Bronze: Contemporary British Sculpture in 2000/2001 and Dan Graham's Triangular Pavilion shown as part of Portavilion in summer 2008.

Sources consulted:

See EH Listing: Country Life 13 November 1986, p1525/6; M R Gloag 'A Book of English Gardens', 1906 pp219-40; 'Holland Park Management Strategy, RBKC Survey 1986; C Holme 'Gardens of England in Southern and Western Counties', 1907 p77-81; J Macgregor 'Gardens of Celebrities . . In . . London', 1918, p198-226; N Pevsner, 'London except . . . Westminster', 1952, 262/3. Holland Park and Holland Park, the Official Guide, RBKC Leisure Services (n.d.); Tim Knox, 'The Gardens on Holland House' in The London Gardener vol.16 (2010/2011)

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ247796 (524820,179739)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
RB Kensington & Chelsea
Site management:
Leisure Services, Parks and Open Spaces. Friends of Holland Park
C17th; C18th; C19th; 1950s
William Kent / Charles Hamilton (C18th)
Listed structures:
LBI: Holland House. LBII: Entrance on High Street Kensington
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

NHLE grade:
Grade II
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:
Holland Park
Tree Preservation Order:
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Metropolitan Importance
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:
Area of Metropolitan Importance

Holland Park *

Holland Park - remains of Holland House - Photo: Colin Wing
Date taken: 22/02/22 15:55

Click a photo to enlarge.

More photos

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