On & Around the Street

Visit Chelsea’s Private Gardens This June

Cadogan Place Garden North

Many of London’s gated and private gardens will be open to the public this month, allowing access to lush spaces that are usually held under lock and key, which means that on the weekend of 17-18 June you can indulge your curiosity and take a wander around Sloane Street’s stunning Cadogan Place Gardens during Open Garden Squares Weekend.

Set in the middle of Sloane Street, which was laid out and developed by Henry Holland from 1777, the gardens are oases of green amidst the bustling luxury retail stores and historic architecture and are usually reserved for the use of the very lucky residents, which included slave trade abolitionist William Wilberforce (1759-1833), who lived at 44 Cadogan Place.

The north garden was originally created by Humphry Repton in 1806, the garden was an important military site in WW2, when the railings were removed to donate to the war effort. In 1939, part of the garden was requisitioned by the Air Ministry for a barrage balloon. In May 1942 it was wholly taken over by the War Office. The ground was used to dig in tanks, station anti-aircraft guns and as a camp for troops.

In the 1970s the garden was re-landscaped when an underground car park was built beneath it, making it one of London’s most exclusive roof gardens.

The south garden was originally known as the London Botanic Gardens. The mulberry trees on the lawn are said to be around 300 years old and thought perhaps to have been grown for the silk trade. They are however black mulberry, which is less preferred by the silk worm. Nevertheless the fruit is delicious and the trees beautiful.

On the east side, a walk running the length of the garden has been developed for spring interest, along with a fern garden and mini-stumpery. Look out throughout the garden for large old Cyclamen hederifolium corms, some as big as dinner plates. And near the centre of the garden you’ll find the award-winning Hans Sloane Garden, adapted from a design for the 2003 Chelsea Flower Show to celebrate the life of the physician and collector Sir Hans Sloane, who died in 1753. His daughter, Elizabeth, married the 1st Earl Cadogan.

There are several other notable gardens in the neighbourhood worth exploring, our pick of these is below (with a handy map viewable here), while a complete list of all the London gardens open on the weekend is available on the Open Garden Squares Weekend list. To buy tickets for the event please click here.

Cadogan Place – North Garden

Cadogan Place Garden North
Cadogan Place Garden North

OPEN: Saturday: 10:00-17:00; Sunday: 10:00-17:00

Set in the middle of Sloane Street, which was laid out and developed by Henry Holland from 1777 onwards, this ‘north’ garden was created by Humphry Repton in 1806. Repton excavated soil to create hollows and hillocks and laid out gently winding paths to guide the visitor around the landscape.

More information… 

Cadogan Place – South Garden

Cadogan Place Garden South
Cadogan Place Garden South

OPEN: Saturday: 10:00-17:00; Sunday: 10:00-17:00

Originally known as the London Botanic Gardens, expect 300-year-old mulberry trees, a variety of ornamental trees, a water garden, a fern garden, mini-stumpery and a walk with spring interest.

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Carlyle’s House

Carlyle's House
Carlyle's House

OPEN: Saturday: 11:00-16:00

Situated in the creative quarter of Old Chelsea, the Victorian writer Thomas Carlyle and his wife Jane lived at 24 Cheyne Row for nearly 50 years. Laid out when Chelsea was still a riverside village, the walled garden at Cheyne Row was a typical town garden, with an oblong patch surrounded by high brick walls to the east of the house.

From the back door, three steps led to a yard paved with flagstones, from which one step led up to a gravel path, bordered with box. The path branched to the left between the flowerbeds, and led to the earth closet, a square brick building almost hidden in summer by lilac bushes and fruit trees.

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Markham Square

Markham Square
Markham Square

OPEN: Sunday: 14:00-17:00

Award-winning garden first laid out in the mid-19th Century and redesigned after WW2. It was judged the finest square garden in Chelsea in 2006, 2007, 2013 and 2015. The building of the original square was begun in 1836 on the site of the old orchard of Box Farm, owned by the Markham family, which had had common rights since the ‘29th year of Elizabeth’.

In 1935 the garden was laid out as a cherry orchard, in celebration of the Silver Jubilee of George V. After WW2, the square was redesigned in the style of a private country garden by the head gardener at the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

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Paultons Square

Paultons Square
Paultons Square

OPEN: Saturday: 12:00-17:00

This pleasant Georgian square was built in the 1830s on the site of an old market garden on land previously owned by Sir Thomas More and Sir John Danvers. The square was named after Paultons in Hampshire, the country seat of George Stanley, who was the son-in-law of Sir Hans Sloane. Sir Hans was Lord of the Manor of Chelsea in the 18th Century and gave his name to Sloane Square, Sloane Street, Sloane Avenue and various places starting with ‘Hans’.

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Thurloe Square

Thurloe Square
Thurloe Square

OPEN: Sunday: 10:00-17:00

This classic Victorian garden, named after John Thurloe, Oliver Cromwell’s Secretary of State, has mature trees, winding paths, lawns, borders, flowerbeds and children’s play area, was developed in the 1840s to designs by George Basevi and ushered in a new era of Italianate townhouse design in London. Visit on Sunday afternoon for a live a cappella performance by singing group Treblemakers at 2pm.

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