Inventory Site Record

Victoria Tower Gardens * (Westminster)

Brief Description

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

Victoria Tower Gardens were created in 1864-70, following the embankment of the Thames by MBW's Chief Engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette, although Sir Christopher Wren had conceived of a continuous embankment in 1666. The gardens run south from Black Rod Garden and the Houses of Parliament to Lambeth Bridge and were extended c.1914. The layout comprises a central lawn, with perimeter paths, mature trees and shrubberies. Within the gardens are a statue of Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst, Auguste Rodin's Burghers of Calais and the Buxton Memorial Fountain.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Victoria Tower Gardens North
Site location:
Abingdon Street/Millbank/Lambeth Bridge
Postcode:
SW1
Type of site:
Public Gardens
Borough:
Westminster
Open to public?
Yes
Opening times:
closes at dusk
Special conditions:
Facilities:
Children's playground
Events:
Public transport:
Tube: Westminster (Jubilee, District, Circle)
Research updated:
04/11/2021
Last minor changes:
04/11/2021

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.royalparks.org.uk

Full Site Description

Site on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens, for Register Entry see https://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list.  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.

Victoria Tower Gardens were laid out following the embankment of the Thames by the Metropolitan Board of Works and undertaken by its Chief Engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette. The idea of embankment was not new, and Sir Christopher Wren had conceived a riverside quay for the City as early as 1666. A Royal Commission was set up and in 1844 recommended an embankment should be built between Blackfriars and Chelsea. The Metropolitan Board of Works was established in 1855, one of its main tasks being that of solving the sewage problem in London. An Act was passed in 1862 to approve the project and Bazalgette's scheme was put forward in 1863, with a massive sewer to be built below the new tree-lined roadway, with a granite river wall. Apart from the new road, much of the 15 hectares taken from the river was converted into public gardens. The Victoria Tower Lodge and the gates to Black Rod Garden are by Sir Charles Barry and Pugin, 1850-60.

Victoria Tower Gardens were laid out south of the Houses of Parliament in 1864-70 and were extended c.1914. The triangular site is bounded by Abingdon Street and Millbank to the west, by the Houses of Parliament to the north, and by the Thames to the east. The south tip of the gardens reaches Lambeth Bridge. The gardens have a central lawn, with perimeter paths and shrubbery along the north and north-west boundaries. Within the gardens are a number of features including the bronze statue of Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst by A. G. Walker, which was erected in 1930 and moved to its present site in 1956 at the north-west corner of the gardens. The bronze statuary group by Auguste Rodin of the Burghers of Calais, 1895, was originally erected in 1915 and re-sited in the north centre lawn on a lower pedestal c.1980. Also in the gardens is the Buxton Memorial Fountain by S S Teulon, 1865/6, situated in the south-eastern lawn, but originally stood in Parliament Square (q.v.). There are fine views of the river provided by raised seats. Further south, beyond Lambeth Bridge, is an additional riverside garden, Victoria Tower Gardens South (q.v.), maintained by Westminster City Council.

Victoria Tower Gardens is under severe threat as a result of the project to construct a Holocaust Memorial Centre in the park, which will essentially divide the site and result in loss of public facilities.

Sources consulted:

See EH Register Bibliography. Nikolaus Pevsner, rev. Bridget Cherry, London I, 1985, p. 635.

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ302792 (530250,179250)
Size in hectares:
c.2.5
Site ownership:
Royal Parks Agency
Site management:
Royal Parks Agency
Date(s):
1864-70, extended 1914
Designer(s):
Listed structures:
LBI: Victoria Tower Lodge, gates to Black Rod Garden; Burghers of Calais. LBII: Embankment Wall from Houses of Parliament to Lambeth Bridge;Emmeline Pankhurst statue by A G Walker; Buxton Memorial Fountain by SS Teulon.
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

Yes
NHLE grade:
Grade II
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:
Westminster Abbey & Parliament Square
Tree Preservation Order:
No
Nature Conservation Area:
No
Green Belt:
No
Metropolitan Open Land:
No
Special Policy Area:
Yes (part) - N part (1/3 of the site) is Area of Special Archaeological Priority
Other LA designation:
None
Photos

Victoria Tower Gardens *

Victoria Tower Gardens - Photo: Sally Prothero
Date taken: 21/01/17 15:52

Photo: Pamela Paterson (1995)
1995
Photo: Pamela Paterson (1995)
1995
'The House of Lords from Victoria Gardens', postcard c.1905-14
1905
View of Houses of Parliament from the river, photograph 1890, taken by John Stoddard
1890

Click a photo to enlarge.

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