|Bina Gardens East||Kensington & Chelsea|
This private garden at the rear of the terrace of 16-30 Bina Gardens was laid out in the 1880s as part of the Gunter Estate. In 1983 the leases ran out and the garden became wild and overgrown until it was rediscovered when it was purchased by Falkner House School for girls. The school cleared the site, revealing the original layout and it was then set out with planted areas dedicated to different continents. Nicknamed 'The Secret Garden' it is now privately owned and has been restored to its original design, and has a number of sculptures.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/10/2007
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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.
Photo: Faiqa Syed
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Nicknamed 'The Secret Garden', the site was originally laid out as part of the Gunter Estate in the 1880s. It was part of the former Court Fields once within the Earl's Court Manor estate, later owned by the Gunter family. The Gunters had made their money selling confectionery and had begun to acquire land in the area from the latter part of the C18th; James Gunter had become a partner of successful Italian pastrycook Domenico Negri, whose business at 7 Berkeley Square was established in 1757 and soon became prosperous. James began investing his money in land in the then rural area around Brompton Lane (now Old Brompton Road), including a house to the north, Earls Court House, where the family lived. When his son Robert inherited the business on his death in 1819 the land holding was considerable. But although some plots had been let for building by the mid 1840s, 73 of the estate's c.81 acres remained undeveloped and leased to farmers and market gardeners. From the late 1840s Robert Gunter began to develop the estate lands, beginning with The Boltons and moving north and east with large houses and terraces. His sons James and Robert continued to develop the estate following his death in 1852. George Godwin was appointed estate surveyor in 1848. By then, Godwin, who was local to Kensington, already had useful experience as District Surveyor for South Islington, and had erected one or two houses on Fulham Road with his father, also an architect or builder. As estate surveyor Godwin was responsible for the overall street layout and amenities, and overseeing the work undertaken by the contractors and developers who leased the building plots. In 1859 Robert Gunter leased the west side of The Boltons to John Spicer (d.1883) of Pimlico, who went on to take on many other leases on the estate in the 1860s and 1870s to become one of its principal developers.
Residents of Nos. 25-31 Rosary Gardens to the east, developed by the Day Estate, Nos. 23-25 Wetherby Gardens to the north and Nos. 14-30 Bina Gardens to the west (both developed by the Gunters) were all granted 99-year leases for use of the enclosed land from 25 March 1884 and Bina Gardens East was laid out as a formal garden in the late 1880s. The garden was at the rear of the terrace of red-brick houses, Nos. 16-30 Bina Gardens, built in 1884-6 by H B Measures, who built Wetherby Gardens and was architect for William Millett (Willett?) who developed the area. In 1928 the garden enclosure was owned by R G Gunter and leased on a peppercorn rent to Willett, the lease expiring in 1983. The garden was for the use of lessees of Nos. 23, 24 and 25 Wetherby Gardens, Nos. 14-30 (even) Bina Gardens and Nos. 25-43 Rosary Gardens, all of whom paid a rent for upkeep. In that year it was described as 'A rectangular garden flanked on all sides by the rear of dwelling-houses'.
In 1983 the leases ran out and the garden disappeared and became wild and overgrown until it was rediscovered when it was purchased from the Gunter Estate in 1991 by Mrs Jacina Bird, the Headmistress of Falkner House School for girls. The school cleared the site of rubble and vegetation, revealing the original layout and it was then set out with planted areas dedicated to different continents, and tended by pupils of the school. In 2002 the school sold the garden to a non-resident who put it up for auction in 2003. Before it went for auction Alexander and Alice Ulm who owned property in Bina Gardens purchased the garden and under their ownership it has been restored to its original design.
leaflet / OGSW booklet 2004; press cutting; Report of the Royal Commission on London Squares, 1928