Inventory Site Record

Thistle Grove Gardens (Kensington & Chelsea)

Brief Description

This is one of four private communal gardens provided for residents of Evelyn Gardens, built as part of Smith's Charity Estate. Thistle Grove is the most westerly terrace, running north/south, built in 1891/2. The Trustees of the Estate began building on the land from 1823, appointing George Basevi as architect in 1828, who was succeeded by Henry Clutton, and later by Charles James Freake in 1865. Two associated gardens are separately listed as Cranley Mews and Evelyn Gardens.

Practical Information
Site location:
Evelyn Gardens/Thistle Grove
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Private Garden
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

These private communal gardens are between Nos. 45-70 Evelyn Gardens and Thistle Grove. 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, succeeded by Henry Clutton from 1845, and later Charles James Freake. Cranley Terrace, originally called Strong's Place and now 46-78 Fulham Road, was built by Freake in 1853-4 with mews behind. The west side of Cranley Gardens with mews behind was built from 1877-1880 before Freake's death. The development of Evelyn Gardens followed in 1886 and was undertaken by Freake's widow and Charles Townshend Murdoch. It was named after Trustee William John Evelyn. The three east-west terraces and the long north-south terrace were completed by 1892.

Each of the terraces had its own communal rear gardens, including this site between Evelyn Gardens and Thistle Grove. In 1928, all were owned by Trustees of Smith's Charity Estate and were for use by lessees of adjoining houses who paid a portion of the expenses to maintain the garden, managed by a Garden Committee.

Sources consulted:

RBKC Thurloe Estate and Smith's Charity Conservation Area Policy Statement

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ263783 (526500,178130)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
Site management:
Listed structures:
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:

To be checked

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:

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