Inventory Site Record

St James's Gardens (Kensington & Chelsea)

Brief Description

The private communal gardens were provided for residents of St James's Square, which was built c.1847-51 as part of the Norland Estate. The estate originally comprised 52 acres attached to Norland House, and passed through a number of owners until 1839 when it was sold for development to William Kingdom. The sale of the estate was assigned to solicitor Charles Richardson who began by raising funds to lay 3 miles of sewers before building commenced. He donated the site for St James's Church in St James's Gardens. The gardens to the east and west of the church were simply laid out with central paths and perimeter trees.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
St James's Square
Site location:
St James's Gardens
W11 4RA
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Garden Square
Kensington & Chelsea
Open to public?
Opening times:
Has opened for OGSW. Otherwise private, for keyholders only
Has taken part in Open Garden Squares Weekend 24 times, most recently in 2023.
Special conditions:
Public transport:
Tube: Holland Park (Central), Shepherd's Bush Market (Hammersmith and City). Rail/London Overground/Tube (Central): Shepherd's Bush. Bus: 31, 94, 148, 295
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

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

Full Site Description

St James's Gardens is part of the Norland estate, which was developed from c.1840. The Estate was originally 52 acres of grounds attached to Norland House, its site now No. 130 Holland Park Avenue, the name 'Norlands' appearing in records in 1599. In the early C18th Norland House was purchased by Thomas Greene, whose grandson E B Greene inherited in 1740 but, due to debts, was forced to lease the house and 12 acres as a military academy in 1761. When Greene died in 1791 the estate was bought at auction by Benjamin Vulliamy, whose family held it until 1839. Vulliamy then sold Norland to William Kingdom for development, encouraged by the acceleration of building development in the area, the Ladbroke Estate to the east and the Holland Estate to the south, together with much-improved drainage of the land due to a new sewer built in 1838/9 through the estate to accommodate the Birmingham, Bristol and Thames Junction Railway line. Kingdom assigned the sale of the estate to solicitor Charles Richardson, who then began raising the necessary capital to build 3 miles of sewers approved by the Westminster Commissioner of Sewers and to begin building the estate to designs by Kingdom's architect Robert Cantwell. Building progress did not go smoothly and despite his best efforts Richardson was bankrupt by 1855. However, between 1847-51 thirty-seven houses had been built in St James's Square as a series of terraces of pseudo semi detached houses designed by John Barnett.

In the centre of the gardens the church of St James, designed by Louis Vulliamy, son of Benjamin Vulliamy, had been built in 1844/5 on a site donated by Richardson and costing £4941. The central tower of the church provides the focus for the vista up Addison Avenue, and was erected in 1850, but it was originally planned to have a spire unrealised due to lack of funds. An extension was built to the east end in 1876. The gardens to the east and west of the church were simply laid out with central paths and trees around the edge (OS 1863). In 1928 the garden is described as 'a rectangular area with privet hedge all round. An attractive open space with lawns, etc. and some well-grown trees.' Protected under 1851 Garden Square Act.

Sources consulted:

Survey of London; RBKC Norland Conservation Area Policy Statement, 1989; Report of Royal Commission on London Squares, 1928

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ241803 (524097,180329)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
Norland Estate (Church: Diocese of London)
Site management:
St James's Gardens Garden Committee
Richard Cantwell (overall estate layout)
Listed structures:
LBII: Nos 1-8, 9-13, 14-24, 42-46, 47-54 St James's Gardens; St James's 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:
Tree Preservation Order:
Not known
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:

St James's Gardens

St James's Gardens - Photo: Colin Wing
Date taken: 09/06/19 11:46

Click a photo to enlarge.

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