Inventory Site Record

Lambeth Palace Gardens * (Lambeth)

Brief Description

* on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens

Since the C13th Lambeth Palace has been the London home of the Archbishops of Canterbury. The gardens of the medieval palace were once 8 ha., but the current garden is half that size and extends north from the Palace with the boundary wall along Lambeth Palace Road. References to various garden features occur from the C14th, and included at different times a 'Great Garden', herb garden, vineyard, rabbit garden, orchards, fishponds, walks and formal gardens with a raised terrace walk. These features have largely disappeared although an outer moat and inner 'serpentine canal' survived until the mid C18th. In 1901 an area of c.4 ha. to the east was separated to form a public park, Archbishop's Park. The remaining garden was renovated in the 1920s, with further changes occurring under successive Archbishops throughout the C20th.

Practical Information
Site location:
Lambeth Palace Road/Lambeth Road
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Private Garden
Open to public?
Opening times:
From 2016: 12-3pm, 1st Friday of each month until October. Pre-booked tours. Otherwise private, for keyholders only
Has taken part in Open Garden Squares Weekend 3 times, most recently in 2009.
Special conditions:
Entrance fee: £5 (donated to a chosen charity each month)
Has opened for OGSW, National Gardens Scheme, Open House Day. Annual North Lambeth Parish Fete and other charitable events.
Public transport:
Rail: Waterloo. Tube: Waterloo (Northern, Waterloo and City, Jubilee, Bakerloo), Lambeth North (Bakerloo). Bus: 77, 507
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

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

Full Site Description

Site on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens, for Register Entry see The Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England was established in 1984 and was commonly called English Heritage. In April 2015 it split into 2 separate entities, Historic England (HE), which continues to champion and protect the historic environment, and the English Heritage Trust, whose role is to look after the 400+ historic sites and monuments owned by the state. HE manages the National Heritage List for England (NHLE) that includes over 400,000 items ranging from prehistoric monuments to office blocks, battlefields and parks, which benefit from legal protection.

Since the C13th Lambeth Palace has been the London home of the Archbishops of Canterbury, and the Palace incorporates fabric from that time. It has been the site of numerous events connected with the church and with royalty. It was here that Catherine of Aragon stayed after arriving in England before her marriage to Prince Arthur in the C16th and centuries later it was the venue for a garden party following the church service to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. The main entrance is through Morton's Gateway to the south-west. The gardens and park of the medieval palace once covered some 8 hectares, but the C20th gardens on the site are half that size, extending north from the Palace with the boundary wall running along Lambeth Palace Road. The first plan showing the property in any detail is the Braun and Hogenburg Map of c.1572, which shows a large number of drainage channels on the south bank and a large moat around the property that also appears to run through the stable block. To the north of the palace a small walled privy garden is shown, north and east of which are small paddocks divided by hedges.

According to a plan drawn up for the Parliamentary Survey in 1648 this layout was little changed apart from the position of the moat. There are frequent references to the gardens from the C14th onwards, and its features included, at different times, a 'Great Garden', herb garden, vineyard, rabbit garden, orchards, 2 fishponds and walks; formal gardens are shown to the north of the Palace in Kip and Knyff's view of 1714 with a raised east-west terrace walk. These features have largely disappeared although an outer moat and inner 'serpentine canal' survived until the mid C18th. The John Rocque map of 1746 indicates that after the Civil War the garden was extended to the north by a triangular area of shrubbery and the moat to the north of the privy garden was either diverted or a culvert added. By 1750 the newly planted shrubbery was formally planted, according to a plan in Ducarel published in 1785.

When Archbishop Moore was in residence (1783-1805) most of the canals were infilled and the garden was 'improved' in the prevailing informal fashion. Archbishop Moore also extended the garden and moved the kitchen garden to an area north-east of the main garden; a plan of 1812 is thought to give a reasonably accurate picture of the layout at that time. Archbishop Howley (1828-48) virtually rebuilt the Palace following a damning report on its condition by architect Edward Blore, and he also built an east/west terrace in front of the building that was later reconstructed in 1986. The kitchen garden was moved nearer the palace and its site used for a church and school. A north/south axial path shown on the OS of 1879 is still present today along the eastern edge of the western section of the garden.

In the C19th, the surrounding area that had been virtually open countryside began to be built on and the railway line to Waterloo made a major impact on the area. Palace land was sold in 1871 and later in 1953 to enable access and expansion of St Thomas's Hospital, which impacted the garden. In 1901 an area of c.4 hectares to the east of the garden was separated off by Archbishop Frederick Temple (1896-1902), and leased to the LCC to form a public park, Archbishop's Park (q.v.). The remaining garden was renovated by Archbishop Cosmo Lang in the 1920s, with the rose terrace built in the 1930s laid out by Beth Chatto. By the mid C20th the gardens comprised a lawn to the north of the Palace, a paved cross-terrace with rose beds, and extensive herbaceous borders and bedding schemes beside the Long Walk running along the eastern boundary and curving round through ornamental woodland on the north and west sides of the gardens.

By the 1980s the gardens had become somewhat overgrown due to shortage of funds but they were restored in 1986-88 largely at the instigation of Rosalind Runcie, wife of the Archbishop. She set up a successful appeal so that the restoration could be achieved in time for the Lambeth Conference in 1988. As a result the woodland was thinned, a pool was created in the northern quarter, and new features included an Elizabethan-style herb and physic garden close to Lollards Tower, a Palladian temple built on the Mound that was paid for by American supporters of the garden, and a pleached lime hedge. A Chinese feature by Faith and Geoff Whiten that featured in the Chelsea Flower Show in 1987 was also laid out in the garden. In the forecourt south of the Palace against the east wall of Juxon's Hall, now the Library, is a thicket of fig trees grown from cuttings from figs said to be planted for Archbishop Pole in the mid 1550s. A Duchy Border of bulbs, perennials and shrubs donated by the Duchy of Cornwall nursery is laid out to the east of the Palace near an orchard. The orchard, which has apples, medlar, pears, plums and quinces, is near the site of the original vegetable garden. North of the rose terrace are areas of shrubs and perennials and a woodland walk, where large numbers of bulbs have been planted particularly on a small mound near the eastern boundary and under certain trees such as the mulberries and Crataemespilus grandiflora (a cross between medlar and hawthorn).

Archbishop George Carey and his wife developed the wildlife potential of the garden with c.300 native trees planted and the pond renovated to encourage diversity. Sculptural works in the garden include 'Swallows' and 'Girl with Swallows' by David Norris, and 'Mother and Child' by Lesley Emma Pover. There are a large number of mature trees, including a copper beech, holm oak and an avenue of London plane trees, and specimen trees include Magnolia soulangeana, four of which surround the memorial to Archbishop Randall Davidson and his wife, Magnolia grandiflora, and tulip tree. Some of the planting has particular religious or historic resonance, such as the bed of Compass roses, the emblem of the Anglican Communion; a mulberry tree donated by the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers was planted on the day that Terry Waite, Archbishop Runcie's special envoy to Baghdad, regained his freedom. Other commemorative planting includes a black walnut planted by Queen Mary, a Millennium Oak planted by Archbishop Carey in 2000; and a rowan avenue planted for the accession of Archbishop Rowan Williams.

At the end of the avenue of London plane trees is an urn found in Archbishop's Park that is believed to be from the Lambeth Palace gardens, now mounted on a plinth containing Tudor bricks believed to have been part of the wall separating the eastern and western sections of the garden before the formation of the public park.

Sources consulted:

Thomas Allen, 'The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Lambeth and the Archiepiscopal Palace in the County of Surrey', London J Allen, 1826; E W Brayley and W Herbert 'A Concise Account, Historical and Descriptive of Lambeth Palace', London, 1806; Evelyn Cecil, 'London Parks and Gardens', Archibald Constable, 1907; Marie Draper 'Lambeth's Open Spaces: an Historical Account', LB Lambeth, 1979; A C Ducarel, 'The History and Antiquities of the Archiepiscopal Palace of Lambeth: from its foundation to the present time' in 'Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica II no. !V, J Nichols, 1785; Dorothy Gardiner, 'The Story of Lambeth Palace: A Historic Survey', Constable & Co, 1930; Daniel Lysons, 'The Environs of London: being an Historical Account of the Towns, Villages and Hamlets Within Twelve Miles of that Capital', vol 1, County of Surrey, 1792; Jessie MacGregor 'Gardens of Celebrities and Celebrated Gardens in and around London', Hutchinson & Co, 1919; Dawn MacLeod 'The Gardener's London', Duckworth, 1972; Country Life 1 June 1935; Victoria County History, Surrey IV 1912; Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 2: South (Penguin) 1999; J Harvey 'Medieval Gardens', 1983; Orlando Murrin, 'Lambeth Legacy' in Country Homes and Interiors, Feb 1991 pp86-89Howard Roberts and Walter Godfrey (eds.), The Survey of London: South Bank and Vauxhall' vol 23, LCC. 1951; J J Sexby 'The Municipal Parks, Gardens and Open Spaces of London', 1898; Tim Tatton-Brown, 'Lambeth Palace: A History of the Archbishops of Canterbury and their Houses', Society for Promoting Christian knowledge, 2000; Gladys Taylor 'Old London Gardens' 1937; Geoffrey and Faith Whiten, 'A Garden for an Archbishop' in The Garden, Oct 1989, pp509-13; Ian Yarham, Michael Waite, Andrew Simpson, Niall Machin, 'Nature Conservation in Lambeth', Ecology Handbook 26 (London Ecology Unit), 1994.

LPGT Volunteer Research by Sheena Ginnings, 2007

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ306792 (530633,179114)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
Church Commissioners
Site management:
Church Commissioners
C11th onwards
Listed structures:
LBI: Lambeth Palace
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

NHLE grade:
Grade II
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:
Lambeth Palace
Tree Preservation Order:
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Borough Importance II (with Archbishops Pk)
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:
Historic Parks and Gardens

Lambeth Palace Gardens *

Lambeth Palace - Photo: Josh Ward
Date taken: 24/05/05 07:45

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