|Oakley Square Gardens||Camden|
Oakley Square is named after Oakley House, a seat of land-owner the Duke of Bedford. The garden was laid out c1845, planned in conjunction with terraces that survive only along its northern side. The well-planted garden had serpentine paths, two circular areas at either end of a central path running north-east to south-west, and was originally for the use of the Duke, his heirs and assigns, and those living in the square. It is now open to the public, and was relandscaped in 1953 to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/07/2002
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Oakley Square Gardens, July 2002. Photo: S Williams
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Oakley Square is named after Oakley House, a seat of the Duke of Bedford who owned the land. The garden was laid out c1845 and planned in conjunction with the C19th terraces that survive only along its northern side. The square was built piecemeal from 1845-1859; Nos. 53-57 is a symmetrical terrace of 5 houses and Nos. 58-70 a terrace of 13 houses. The gardens were originally for the use of the Duke, his heirs and assigns, and those living in the square. A Committee of inhabitants were appointed under the Metropolis Management Act of 1855, who maintained the gardens out of rates levied by St Pancras Borough Council. Under a Special Act of Parliament of 1800, which related to enclosures on the Bedford Estates (including Ampthill, Gordon, Harrington, Oakley and Tavistock Squares (q.q.v.)), the rate was limited to 1s in the £ on the rateable value.The OS map of 1875 shows an elaborate formal garden layout with serpentine paths, two circular areas at either end of a central path running north-east to south-west, and well planted. In 1928 the garden was described as 'a long enclosure of irregular shape, surrounded by a thick privet hedge. Attractively laid out with lawns and flower beds, and contains some fine trees.' Today it is enclosed by a wire mesh fence and laid out with grass, serpentine walks, flower beds and mature London planes.
At one corner is Oakley Square Gardens Lodge, a C19th single storey stuccoed building with rusticated quoins; over the bay, the Bedford family coat of arms is in a circular plaque supported by scrolled consoles. The lodge house was originally flanked by gates to bar undesirable traffic from the square but the gates were removed in 1893. The garden is now open to the public, and was relandscaped in 1953 to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The Old Vicarage, now a private house, was built in 1861 and designed by John Johnson in Gothic Revival style. Johnson also designed the Church of St Matthew, now demolished, which had stood to the right, and who was best known for his designs for Alexandra Palace.
E Beresford Chancellor 'The History of the Squares of London: Topographical and Historical', London 1907; Survey of London; M W Hammond, 'Camden's Parks and Gardens', LB Camden, 1973; Camden Town Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan 2007