Inventory Site Record

Pelham Crescent Gardens (Kensington & Chelsea)

Brief Description

The private communal garden was provided for residents of surrounding houses of Pelham Crescent, which was built in the 1840s as part of the Henry Smith's Charity estate to designs of George Basevi. The Trustees of the Estate began building on the estate from 1823, appointing Basevi as architect in 1828 who submitted plans for the rest of the estate by the end of 1829. Pelham Crescent, Pelham Place, Pelham Cottage and Park Cottage, now Park House, were completed by 1844 and have more ornamentation than those houses built for the estate in succeeding years. The gardens have lawns, trees and shrubs. Nearby in Fulham Road is a drinking fountain.

Practical Information
Site location:
Pelham Crescent
What 3 Words:
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, awarding 60 year leases to James Bonnin for a plot south of the Thurloe Estate to build 8 houses and a cottage as a terrace to be named after Arthur George Onslow, one of the Trustees and later third Earl of Onslow, completed in 1824. In 1828 the Charity appointed George Basevi as architect and plans for the rest of the estate were submitted by the end of 1829.

Pelham Crescent, Pelham Place, Pelham Cottage and Park Cottage, now Park House, were completed by 1844. The houses have more ornamentation and detailing than those built for the estate in the succeeding years. There are Doric pilasters to the end houses and the two-storey stucco terrace overlooks a small crescent generously planted with trees and shrubs. The 1928 Report of the Royal Commission on London Squares describes the garden as an attractive open space with well-kept lawns and trees, surrounded by thick privet hedge. The management of the communal garden is carried out by a Garden Committee of residents; the upkeep is financed by selling of garden keys to residents and contributions from the estate. Up until 1932 when their leases expired, lessees of 1-27 Pelham Crescent and 1-29 and 2-18 Pelham Place had rights of use under their leases. There is a drinking fountain in Fulham Road by Pelham Crescent Gardens.

Famous residents of Pelham Crescent include architect George Godwin the elder at No. 11, the actor and manager Sir Nigel Playfair at No. 26, and the poet Edward John Trelawney at No. 7.

Sources consulted:

Survey of London; 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; Report of Royal Commission on London Squares, 1928

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ270787 (527113,178677)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
Smith's Charity Estate
Site management:
Garden Committee
George Basevi
Listed structures:
LBII: 1-27 (consec) Pelham Crescent
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:

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.