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Natural History Museum Gardens and Wildlife Garden Kensington & Chelsea
   

Natural History Museum Gardens and Wildlife Garden

Photo: Justina Burnett

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Following the success of the 1851 Great Exhibition Prince Albert wished to promote the application of science and art to industry with profits from the Exhibition. Government matched the surplus and the land for the site was purchased. The Natural History Museum was built in 1872-80, set back from Cromwell Road behind fine railings and piers with areas of landscaping either side of the central semicircular forecourt. There are fine plane trees and shrubbery, a large area of lawn to the west and a number of sculptural features. In 1995 a Wildlife Garden was created in the south-west corner as the Museum's first living exhibition to show the potential for wildlife conservation in the inner city, an educational resource and research facility. It contains a range of habitats such as fen, reedbed, ponds, hedgerow, heathland, woodland, meadow and chalk downland grazed by a number of sheep.
Previous / Other name:
Site location: Cromwell Road/Exhibition Road/Queen's Gate, South Kensington
Postcode: SW7 5BD > Google Map
Type of site: Public Gardens; Institutional Grounds
Date(s): 1872-80; 1995
Designer(s):
Listed structures: LBI: Museum, forecourt with single-storey lodge, steps, gate piers and railings. LBII: Lodge at Cromwell Road/Queen's Gate
Borough: Kensington & Chelsea
Site ownership: Natural History Museum
Site management: Natural History Museum
Open to public? Yes
Opening times: Mon-Sat 10am-5.50pm; Sun 11am - 5.50pm. Wildlife Garden: daily May - end September, 12 - 5pm
Has taken part in Open Garden Squares Weekend 14 times, most recently in 2017.
Special conditions:
Facilities: Museum; catering facilities; shop; toilets
Events: Educational activities. Guided tours of Wildlife Garden daily during May - Sept, usually at 12 and 3pm. Has opened for OGSW
Public transport: Tube: Gloucester Road, South Kensington (District, Circle, Piccadilly). Bus: 14, 49, 70, 74, 345, 360, 414, 430, C1
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/06/2010
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.nhm.ac.uk/museum/garden

Fuller information:

Following the success of the Great Exhibition of 1851 Prince Albert wished to promote the application of science and art to industry with profits from the Exhibition. Government matched the surplus and the land for the site was purchased. Richard Owen, later Sir Richard, a professor of anatomy, was a key figure in the Natural History Museum's foundation. As superintendent of the natural history department at the British Museum, he advocated a purpose-built museum, which was supported by the Prime Minister, Gladstone. A competition for the new building was initially won by Captain Francis Fowke, who was architect to the South Kensington Museum now the Victoria & Albert Museum (q.v.). Fowke died in 1865 and in 1866 Albert Waterhouse was commissioned to realise his design. Due to a delay with funding, Waterhouse was then re-commissioned and made new plans, finally approved in c.1872. The building was completed by 1880, the largest building of the time that was entirely clad in terracotta. It was finally separated from the British Museum by Act of Parliament in 1963.

The frontage onto Cromwell Road is set back behind fine railings and piers with areas of landscaping either side of the central semicircular forecourt. There are fine plane trees and shrubbery to the railings, with a large area of lawn to the west and a number of sculptural features. In 1995 a new Wildlife Garden of 0.4 hectares was created in the south-west corner of the formal gardens, as the Museum's first living exhibition to show the potential for wildlife conservation in the inner city and an important educational resource and research facility. It contains a range of habitats such as fen, reedbed, ponds, hedgerow, heathland, woodland, meadow and chalk downland grazed by a number of sheep. It was designed by Mark Loxton with Dennis Vickers, ecologist. 2008 and 2009: Green Flag Award.

Sources consulted:

Queen's Gate CA Policy Statement; Charlotte Hare, 'Landscape London, a guide to recent gardens, parks and urban spaces', ellipsis, 2001.
Grid ref: TQ267790
Size in hectares: 1.0167
   
On EH National Register : No
EH grade:
Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:
Registered common or village green
on Commons Registration Act 1965:
No
Protected under London Squares
Preservation Act 1931:
No
 
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:
In Conservation Area: Yes
Conservation Area name: Queen's Gate
Tree Preservation Order: Not known
Nature Conservation Area: Yes - Local Importance (Wildlife Garden)
Green Belt: No
Metropolitan Open Land: No
Special Policy Area: Yes - Area of Metropolitan Importance
Other LA designation: Proposed Central Area
   

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