Inventory Site Record

Redcliffe Square Gardens (Kensington & Chelsea)

Brief Description

Now public, this was originally the private communal garden provided for residents of the houses that surround it, built as part of the Gunter Estate. The western area of the estate, including Redcliffe Square, commenced in the mid 1860s; the name reflects the Bristol connections of estate surveyor George Godwin. The garden is bisected by Redcliffe Gardens, now a busy road, once one of the old routes through the area. To the east is the recreation ground with island beds set in lawn, seating and perimeter trees. In the west the site is largely taken up by St Luke's Church, built 1872-3; the church forecourt is used for parking and the site boundary has London plane trees.

Practical Information
Site location:
Redcliffe Square/Redcliffe Gardens
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Garden Square;, Public Gardens
Kensington & Chelsea
Open to public?
Opening times:
7.30am - dusk
Special conditions:
Children's play area
Public transport:
London Overground/Tube (District): West Brompton. Bus: C3
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

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

Full Site Description

Redcliffe Square was built as part of the Gunter estate in the 1860s. The area was agricultural prior to building development and Redcliffe Gardens used to be one of the old routes through the area, called Walnut Tree Walk until the estate was laid out. James Gunter had built up a successful confectioner's business in partnership with an Italian pastrycook and invested much of his wealth in land. At his death in 1819 his holdings in Kensington totalled over 81 acres much of it around Earls Court and the Boltons area. James Gunter's grandson, Robert Gunter, initiated most of the development of the estate, much of the design by his surveyor George Godwin working with his brother Henry.

Building began in the 1850s with The Boltons, and the western area including Redcliffe Square began in the mid 1860s and forms a cohesive group of tall brick villas completed by 1872. The name Redcliffe was chosen due to Godwin's connections with Bristol, where he had restored St Mary's Redcliffe. The Godwin brothers also designed St Luke's Church built in 1872-3, the third of the three churches they built on the Gunter estate. William Corbett and Alexander McClymont, the builders who leased the surrounding Redcliffe Estate, were effectively its developers; they were patrons and trustees of the original parish and were to meet the cost of building the church estimated at £6000 but eventually costing £17000. Corbett and McClymont were bankrupted in 1878. The square is bisected by Redcliffe Gardens, now a busy road. In 1928 the area of garden to the east, owned by Mr R G Gunter, was managed by an Agent who collected voluntary subscriptions from lessees and occupiers of leases on the east side of the square and others. Its layout at the time was described as 'an almost square enclosure laid out as a lawn, with a thick shrubbery and some well-grown trees around the border. Overlooked on one side by a church and on the other three sides by dwelling houses.'

In the east is the recreation ground, which has a wire mesh fence around it, and privet hedge inside this and a formal path layout, with island beds set in the lawn, seating and perimeter trees including mature plane trees. In the west the site is largely taken up by St Luke's Church, with wide gravel area of the church forecourt used for parking and a neat line of pruned plane trees around the perimeter. To the west are paved paths and grass between the church and the road. Sir Rider Haggard lived at No. 24 Redcliffe Square in 1888-94.

Sources consulted:

Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 3: North West' (Penguin, 1999 ed); RBKC The Boltons Conservation Area Policy Statement; Report of the Royal Commission on London Squares 1928

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ258781 (525844,178110)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
RB Kensington & Chelsea
Site management:
Leisure Services, Parks and Open Spaces.
George & Henry Godwin
Listed structures:
LBII: St Luke's Church; Type K6 telephone kiosk opposite church
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:
The Boltons
Tree Preservation Order:
Not known
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:
Article 4 Direction: 1-53 (odd) and 2-80 (even) Redcliffe Square

Redcliffe Square Gardens

Redcliffe Square Gardens - Photo: Colin Wing
Date taken: 10/08/23 13:50

Click a photo to enlarge.

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