Inventory Site Record

Caroline Gardens (Southwark)

Brief Description

The Licensed Victuallers Asylum opened in 1833, initially designed to provide 43 homes for retired victuallers, but over the next decades demand for accommodation was such that it expanded considerably, becoming the largest almshouse complex in London. The first range is on 3 sides of a quadrangle overlooking a large expanse of garden, with railings to the road. By the 1870s there were 205 residents in 176 units. The Society had been incorporated by Royal Charter in 1843 and had ongoing connections with royalty, the Prince of Wales its first patron. In 1959 the Society moved to new Almshouses in Denham and in 1960 Camberwell Borough Council acquired the property for council housing. It was renamed Caroline Gardens after a former resident.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
The Licensed Victuallers Asylum
Site location:
Asylum Road
Type of site:
Public Open Land
Open to public?
Opening times:
Special conditions:
Public transport:
Rail: Queen's Road Peckham. Bus: 21, 53, 172, P13 (walk)
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

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

Full Site Description

In 1827 the Incorporated Society of Licensed Victuallers bought land in Peckham in order to build an asylum for its 'decayed brethren' retired from the trade, who had to be over 50 years old to qualify for the accommodation, coal, medical and financial assistance. The Licensed Victuallers Asylum was designed by Henry Rose, a two-storey double range with two wings and a central portico of 6 Ionic columns, in Nikolaus Pevsner's view 'the only grand composition amongst the many almshouses of Camberwell'. The first stone was laid on 29 May 1828 by the Duke of Sussex, son of King George III, and the building was completed in 1833. Henry Rose also designed the North and South Lodges, both 1839. The Society was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1843 and its first patron was the Prince of Wales.

Over the next decades demand for accommodation was such that the complex expanded considerably, with a second range of almshouses built to the rear. The Back Range was built between 1849-66 and the North Range in 1866. These new ranges included the Ladies Wing that was built in 1849 with the first stone laid by Prince Albert. Another 7 houses, a chapel for use by the residents, boardroom and courtroom were added in 1850. Prince Albert laid the foundation stone for the new Albert Wing in 1858, which was completed in 1862. After his death in 1861, a marble statue of Prince Albert was erected centrally in the front grounds in 1864, unveiled by the then Prince of Wales, the future Edward VII. In November 1866 the foundation stone for the Smalley Wing was laid by the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Alfred Ernest Albert, Queen Victoria's son. It was named after William Smalley, one of the founders and Secretary to the Society. The Office of the Licensed Victuallers Asylum at 10, Asylum Road was built in 1913-14 designed by F E Harford. The railings and gates on Asylum Road date from c.1830-40, and original wrought iron gates are to the north. Those to the south partly date from 1927 when an ornamental gateway was built to celebrate the centenary of the Asylum's foundation.

During WWII the Society evacuated its residents to Denham in Buckinghamshire and in 1943 the interior of the chapel, which had fine stained glass windows and wall plaques, suffered severe bomb damage. After the war the Society decided to relocate its residents permanently to Denham in 1959, taking the statue of Prince Albert to Denham in 1960. Camberwell Borough Council acquired the property for housing in 1960 and it was renamed Caroline Gardens after Caroline Sophie Secker (d.1845), a former resident and widow of Sergeant James Secker who had participated in the Battle of Trafalgar with Lord Nelson in 1805. The chapel, despite plans for its restoration for the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977, remained in a neglected state and latterly used as a store, but in 2010 it became the base for Asylum, an arts group. The landscaped grounds are publicly accessible.

Sources consulted:

John Beasley, 'Southwark Remembered' (Tempus Publishing, 2001); Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 2: South (Penguin) 1999; Clive Berridge, the Almshouses of London (Southampton), 1987; Southwark Listed Buildings data.

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ347773 (534750,177350)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
LB Southwark
Site management:
Housing Department; Caroline Gardens Tenants and Residents Association
(Architects for buildings of 1827-33: Henry and E. Rose)
Listed structures:
LBII: No 10 office of Licensed Victuallers Almshouses; 12 & 14 Asylum Road; 1-100 (main block of Asylum Buildings); 101-110 North Range; 111-176 Back Range; North and South Lodge; railings and gates on Asylum Road.
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:
Caroline Gardens
Tree Preservation Order:
Not known
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:

Caroline Gardens

Caroline Gardens - Photo: Colin Wing
Date taken: 30/08/05 14:58

Click a photo to enlarge.

Please note the Inventory and its content are provided for your general information only and are subject to change. It is your responsibility to check the accuracy.