Inventory Site Record

Onslow Gardens (Kensington & Chelsea)

Brief Description

Three private communal gardens provided for residents of Onslow Gardens, built for Henry Smith's Charity Estate between 1863-78. The Trustees of the Estate began building on the estate land from 1823, appointing George Basevi as architect in 1828, subsequently Henry Clutton from 1845, himself later succeeded by Charles James Freake from 1865. The gardens retain some original railings and have mature trees, lawns and shrubberies.

Practical Information
Site location:
Onslow Gardens
Type of site:
Garden Square
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 descendent 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, later succeeded by Charles James Freake, later Sir Charles, who built the extensive layout of large houses here from 1865.

The houses on Onslow Gardens were built between 1863-78 and have three separate areas of communal garden; the descriptions in 1928 remain relevant today. At the rear of Nos. 1-8 and 17A-24 the garden is flanked on two opposite sides by roads and two sides by the rear of buildings, 'an attractive ornamental garden with privet hedge along the borders abutting on roads' . The second garden to the rear of Nos. 50-78 Onslow Gardens, 'a long rectangular area flanked on three sides by roads and on one long side by the rear of buildings, attractive ornamental garden'. The smallest area is at the rear of Nos. 80-92 Onslow Gardens, 'an enclosure flanked on two adjoining sides by roads and on two sides by the rear or side of buildings. Attractive garden overlooked by dwelling-houses'. In addition to the lessees of the adjoining houses in each case, the lessees of Nos. 25-48 had rights of use to the gardens. They were all maintained by a Garden Committee with lessees paying a proportion of expenses for maintenance. The original railings are still there and in the square are mature plane trees and a variety of trees and shrubs around the edge. There is a tennis court in one corner. Part protected under 1863 Garden Square Act. The easterly arm of the gardens leads to Onslow Square (q.v.).

Famous residents of Onslow Gardens include Prime Minister Andrew Bonar Law at No. 24, Henry Clutton at No. 16, historian James Anthony Froude at No 5, and historian and essayist William Lecky at No. 38.

Sources consulted:

Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 3: North West' (Penguin, 1999 ed); RBKC Thurloe Estate and Smith's Charity Conservation Area Policy Statement

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ266784 (526626,178479)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
Site management:
Listed structures:
LBII: 1-16, 17a-48 (consec), 49-91 (odd), 50-92 (even) Onslow 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:

Onslow Gardens

Onslow Gardens (S) - Photo: Colin Wing
Date taken: 30/04/21 10:37

Click a photo to enlarge.

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