fbpx

Inventory Site Record

Brown Hart Garden (Westminster)

Brief Description

Brown Hart Garden was originally designed in 1903 by C. Stanley Peach as an Italian Garden above the new electricity substation he designed for Westminster Electricity Supply Company. It replaced an earlier communal garden of 1889 that had been provided for residents of the surrounding model housing built for the working classes. By the 1980s the terrace garden was neglected and was eventually closed by the then tenant, EDF. In 2007 after 20 years of closure the garden re-opened as a public space and major renovation was completed by 2013. Situated on a terrace above Duke Street electricity substation, it has been described as the Mayfair Estates’ fullest flight of Edwardian Baroque.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Duke Street Garden
Site location:
Balderton Street/Duke Street
Postcode:
W1K 6WP
What 3 Words:
pepper.deed.glow
Type of site:
Square
Borough:
Westminster
Open to public?
Yes
Opening times:
(to check if unrestricted)
Has taken part in Open Garden Squares Weekend 3 times, most recently in 2010.
Special conditions:
Facilities:
Cafe
Events:
Has opened for OGSW
Public transport:
Tube: Bond Street (Central, Jubilee). Bus: 6, 7, 10, 15, 23, 73, 94, 98, 113, 137, 139, 159, 189, 390
Research updated:
28/07/2023
Last minor changes:
16/08/2023

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.brownhartgardens.co.uk; www.grosvenor.com

Full Site Description

Situated on a terrace above Duke Street electricity substation, Brown Hart Garden has been described as the Mayfair Estates’ fullest flight of Edwardian Baroque. Designed in 1903 by C. Stanley Peach as an Italian Garden, it replaced an earlier communal garden associated with the surrounding model housing for the working classes.

In the late 1880s Duke Street was extended to the west when Stalbridge, Balderton and Chesham Buildings were built and, as part of the development a coffee tavern and public garden were intended, specifically at the request of the landowner, the Duke of Westminster. The coffee house was never provided, but an area between Brown Street and Hart Street was cleared for a communal garden for the use of residents of the new flats. Originally called Duke Street Garden, this was laid out in 1889 to the designs of Joseph Meston, with a number of trees, seats, a central shelter, a urinal at the west end and a drinking fountain at the east end. Duke Street Garden closed in 1903 when the second Duke of Westminster leased the land to the Westminster Electricity Supply Co. to build a substation on the site. Despite various complaints that the garden had attracted 'disorderly boys', 'verminous women' and 'tramps', the local residents protested at its loss and as a result it was agreed to recreate a new communal garden as part of the substation scheme. The new Duke Street Garden was duly laid out above a chamber for transformers and included trees in planters. It was opened on 16 June 1906 by the Mayor of Westminster, Lord Cheylesmore. When Duke Street Garden closed, the central shelter was offered by the Duke of Westminster to Coronation Gardens (q.v.) in Wandsworth, then being laid out by Fanny Wilkinson of the MPGA and it remains there today. A plaque records that it was the work of 'J.Jeffreys / Engineer & Contractor / 10 Great Queen Street / Westminster'.  The drinking fountain previously in the public garden is thought to be that located near the junction of Queen Victoria Street and Thames Street.

The substation that forms the base of the garden is a Portland stone structure with a domed pavilion, with steps leading up to the garden at both ends, which has a stone balustrade. A series of Diocletian windows are along the two sides of the building to allow light into the galleries of the engine rooms below.

By the 1980s the garden had become neglected, and it was closed by EDF, the then tenants of the substation. In 2007 the Grosvenor Estate assumed responsibility for the upkeep of the garden, undertook some repairs, and it was re-opened in 2010 on a limited basis. A major refurbishment took place in 2013 with a new cafe pavilion, modular seating and planting tubs, a new fountain and improved public accessibility via a staircase and lift. The scheme was designed by BDP architects following a competition, with extensive consultation undertaken with local residents. The garden has been used to host a number of activities, including art exhibits and local events, and the cafe provides a source of income. 

The garden remains in the ownership of the Grosvenor Estate, and is still governed by a series of byelaws that date back to the original garden. Among these are the stipulations that ‘no idle or disorderly person is allowed in the garden’; ‘No bath chair or perambulator or vehicle of any kind is admitted’; and ‘brawling, quarrelling, gambling, playing cards or dice, singing, and practicing gymnastics’ are all prohibited within the gardens.

Sources consulted:

Andrew Jones, 'Brown Hart Gardens: "good feeling among the neighbours"', The London Gardener, volume 25, 2021; OGSW booklet, plus Grosvenor Estate

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ283809 (528383,180955)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
Grosvenor Estate
Site management:
Grosvenor Estate Gardens Dept
Date(s):
1903, 2007
Designer(s):
C. Stanley Peach
Listed structures:
None
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

No
Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

No
Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:

No

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:
No
In Conservation Area:
Yes
Conservation Area name:
Mayfair
Tree Preservation Order:
No
Nature Conservation Area:
No
Green Belt:
No
Metropolitan Open Land:
No
Special Policy Area:
Yes - Central Activities Zone
Other LA designation:
None
Photos

Brown Hart Garden

Brown Hart Garden, looking east, with to the rear King's Weigh House Chapel, now the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family in Exile. October 2014. Photograph Sally Williams

Brown Hart Garden, looking west towards new pavilion, showing modular seating and planters, with to the rear the Beaumont Hotel with Anthony Gormley suite on the left. October 2014. Photograph Sally Williams
2014
Brown Hart Garden, detail of Italianate architecture of the electricity sub-station, October 2014. Photograph Sally Williams
2014
Brown Hart Garden, with new water feature, October 2014. Photograph Sally Williams
2014
Duke Street Garden, with drinking fountain at the eastern end, c.1892. Courtesy Historic England Archives
1892

Click a photo to enlarge.

More photos

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.