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Pembroke Square, including Rassells of Kensington Kensington & Chelsea
   

Pembroke Square, including Rassells of Kensington

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Pembroke Square was built in the first period of development of Lord Kensington's Edwardes Estate in the early C19th. It followed the building of Edwardes Square and Earls Terrace and was completed by 1831 after a slow start. Ownership of the central garden enclosure was in several hands from at least the late C19th, with the western portion accessible to residents of surrounding houses, where a sunken rock garden was laid out. The remainder of the enclosure houses one of London's oldest nurseries to be still trading today, Rassells of Kensington. It was established here in 1897 by Charles Rassell who initially purchased the lease of The Lodge, a building at the eastern end of Pembroke Square, for his florist shop. He subsequently acquired the freehold of The Lodge and then part of the garden enclosure, which was initially laid out with tennis courts.
Previous / Other name:
Site location: Pembroke Square/The Lodge Nursery, 78-80 Earls Court Road
Postcode: W8 6EQ > Google Map
Type of site: Garden Square
Date(s): 1824-31
Designer(s): [Early C20th sunken rock garden probably Messrs. Vernon Bros.]
Listed structures: LBII: 1-20, 24-32, 32A, 33, 33A, 34-49 Pembroke Square
Borough: Kensington & Chelsea
Site ownership: private (west) / Rassells of Kensington (east)
Site management:
Open to public? Partially
Opening times: West garden: private, keyholders only. Rassells: see website for opening times
Special conditions:
Facilities: tennis court
Events:
Public transport: Tube: High Street Kensington (District, Circle); Earls Court (District, Piccadilly). Bus: C1, 9, 10, 27, 28, 49, 328.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/10/2014
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.rassells.com

Fuller information:

Pembroke Square was developed in the first period of development of Lord Kensington's Edwardes Estate and followed the building of Edwardes Square and Earls Terrace (q.q.v.) that commenced from 1811. Dowley and Tuck, who were also working on behalf of Lord Kensington on the Kensington Canal, began building Pembroke Square financed by various speculators, but in 1826 were declared bankrupt with only a few of the houses completed. The square was eventually completed on behalf of the creditors holding or subsequently obtaining the building leases, the north and south sides by 1827 and the west by 1831.

At the east end of the square fronting onto what was then Earls Court Lane, now Earl’s Court Road, was a small building, 'The Lodge', which by the latter part of the C19th was in use as a florist. In 1897 the lease of this building was purchased from Lord Kensington by Charles Rassell, who established his florist's shop here, later purchasing the freehold and part of the garden enclosure. Charles' father Henry Rassell had established his gardening business in 1870, and was drawn to London from West Sussex by the opportunities provided by the property boom and prosperous residential classes keen to augment their gardens and homes. The business still flourishes as Rassells of Kensington, whose nursery garden fills a large portion of Pembroke Square.

In 1928 the Report of the Royal Commission on London Squares describes the garden enclosure in mixed ownership, as it remains today. The Prudential Assurance Company Ltd then owned 69 ft of the western end of the garden for the freeholders of the houses, leasing 59 ft to Messrs Vernon Bros. (Garden Architects) at a nominal rent, on which a sunken rock garden had been laid out, accessible to the residents. The remaining 10 ft of this area was leased to Charles Rassell, who also by now owned the remainder of the garden area, some 210 ft, at that time laid out as tennis courts only accessible to Mr Rassell and people authorised by him. All but around 35 ft of the portion in Rassell’s ownership to the east were restricted against building by covenants with the freeholders of the houses in the square, who by 1928 had spent £3,500 on obtaining these covenants. The Report states that: ‘The freeholders of the houses in the square think it of the greatest importance to the health of the district to preserve the square in perpetuity as an open space.’

The garden square today reflects this situation and consists of the private communal garden at the west, to the east of which is a tennis court, and beyond this Rassell's garden centre extending to Earl’s Court Road.

The private sunken garden is surrounded by low brick beds with shrubs and flowers to the railings, with a couple of steps leading down first to a paved terrace with seating, from this terrace further short flights of steps lead to the neat square of lawn surrounded by shallow brick flower beds to the height of the terrace. Just inside the west boundary railing of the gardens is a beehive and a notice board established in 1981 that gives information about the daily weather conditions of the garden with recordings of temperature, humidity, rainfall, and pressure. The garden is partly protected under the 1851 Garden Square Act.

Sources consulted:

RBKC Edwardes Square, Scarsdale and Abingdon Conservation Area Policy Statement (n.d. 1980s); Report of the Royal Commission on London Squares, 1928; website of Rassells Of Kensington
Grid ref: TQ251790
Size in hectares: 0.0921
   
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:
Yes
 
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: Edwardes Square, Scarsdale and Abingdon
Tree Preservation Order: No
Nature Conservation Area: No
Green Belt: No
Metropolitan Open Land: No
Special Policy Area: No
Other LA designation:
   

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