Inventory Site Record

Cleaver Square

Cleaver Square (Lambeth)

Brief Description

Cleaver Square was developed from 1789, originally called Prince's Square but re-named by the LCC in 1937 after the C18th owner of the land, Mary Cleaver. The central garden was originally laid out with grass, and it was later used as a nursery garden. New owners in 1924 wishing to build over the garden, the only way to preserve it as open space was to purchase it under the 1906 Open Spaces Act. As a result Lambeth Borough Council purchased the garden and laid it out as a playground, with perimeter trees planted subsequently. The garden was restored in c.2000 to form an open tree lined area with gravel, cobbles and numerous seats.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Princes Square; Prince's Square
Site location:
Cleaver Square
Type of site:
Garden Square;, Public Gardens
Listed structures:
LBII: most properties fronting the square
Site ownership:
LB Lambeth
Site management:
Environment Directorate, Parks and Greenspaces Unit
Open to public?
Opening times:
Has taken part in Open Garden Squares Weekend 4 times, most recently in 2003.
Special conditions:
Public transport:
Tube: Kennington (Northern). Bus: 3, 109, 133,155, 159, 59.

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/03/2008
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Full Site Description

Until 1937 this was called Prince's or Princes Square, renamed as a result of the LCC's changing of street names across London to avoid duplication. The name was taken from earlier owners of the land here. Development of the square began in 1789 after the landowner Mary Cleaver leased the site to Thomas Ellis, the publican of the Horns Tavern nearby. It was the first square to be developed south of the Thames following the building of Westminster Bridge, although it was not finally completed until the 1850s; the central garden was laid out in c.1799. In 1815 John Bowden purchased the property and his family retained ownership until 1924. The new owners wished to build over it with garages but this was refused and it was discovered that the only way of preserving the garden was to purchase it under the 1906 Open Spaces Act. As a result in 1927 it was purchased by Lambeth Borough Council the funds raised by public subscription with contributions from the LCC and Lambeth Borough Council. It was initially laid out as an asphalted playground, although trees were later planted and the garden gravelled. The garden was recently restored by LB Lambeth and English Heritage with the MPGA grant to form an open tree lined area of 'considerable charm and architectural merit' (LGSD booklet) with gravel, cobbles and numerous seats, with traditional post and rail enclosure.

Sources consulted:

Marie Draper 'Lambeth's Open Spaces, An historical account', LB Lambeth 1979

Further Information
Grid ref:
Size in hectares:
On EH National Register :
EH grade:
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:
Yes - in surrounding area
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:
Protected London Square. Open Space

Cleaver Square

Photo: London Gardens Trust

Click photo to enlarge.

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