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Lambeth High Street Recreation Ground Lambeth


Lambeth High Street Recreation Ground was previously a burial ground provided to the parish by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1703. It was extended in 1816, but by 1853 was full and closed to burial. In 1880 it was decided to convert it into a public garden, which opened in 1884. Gravestones were moved to boundary walls, the mortuary was left standing, as was a watch house although this has now gone. The recreation ground was extended in 1929 and by the 1970s was largely asphalted. Since re-landscaped, it has grassy mounds, a water feature, with shrubs and spring bulbs planted.

Basic Details

Site location:
Lambeth High Street

SE1 ( Google Map)

Type of site:
Public Gardens

1703; 1884; 1929; late C20th


Listed structures:
LBII: enclosing walls


Site ownership:
LB Lambeth

Site management:
Environment Directorate, Parks and Greenspaces Unit (Team Lambeth)

Open to public?

Opening times:
7.30am - 15 minutes before sunset

Special conditions:

Children's play area (dog free); dog exercise area


Public transport:
Tube: Lambeth North (Bakerloo)

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/03/2012
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Further Information

Grid ref:

Size in hectares:

Green Flag:

On EH National Register :

EH grade:

Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:

Local Authority Data

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:

Tree Preservation Order:

Nature Conservation Area:

Green Belt:

Metropolitan Open Land:

Special Policy Area:

Other LA designation:

Lambeth High Street Recreation Ground

Click photo to enlarge.

Fuller information

The land behind Lambeth High Street was provided for a parish burial ground by Thomas Tenison, Archbishop of Canterbury. The site had previously been leased to a gardener, from whom it was purchased in 1703 for £120. Archbishop Tenison also gave a black velvet pall to be used for funerals of 'Persons of some Condition' who were able to leave 10 shillings for the poor'. He also instructed that his own body should be draped with the same pall not in a coach, having 'an Aversion to Funeral Pomps, and would be no means at my own Interment give Countenance to them'. In 1706 Archbishop Tenison provided a girls' school adjoining the passage from Lambeth High Street to the burial ground. In order to provide an income for the school he also purchased part of the site of Norfolk House where Catherine Howard had lived as a girl, which was to the north of the burial ground. This area had a number of ancient houses on it and a passage called Tearoe's Alley, which was cleared in 1814 when it was purchased by the Trustees to extend the burial ground, consecrated in 1816. The burial ground was closed in 1853.

By 1880 the former burial ground was 'very unsightly' and the Lambeth Vestry decided to turn it into a public garden, and this was completed in 1884. Gravestones were moved to boundary walls, the mortuary was left standing, as was a watch house that had been erected in 1825 on Lambeth High Street for holding 'the drunk and disorderly'. The latter has now gone but its site is marked with a stone. The new garden was conveyed to Lambeth Vestry and then to Lambeth Borough Council. In 1929 it was enlarged when the site of a glass bottle factory in Whitgift Street was purchased for £700. By the late 1970s the recreation ground had been largely asphalted over, but it has since been re-landscaped with grassy mounds, a water feature, shrubs and spring bulbs planted, and seating, pergolas and other features provided. In 2004 it was a recipient of Section 106 monies as part of Vauxhall Cross Development.

Sources consulted:

Marie Draper 'Lambeth's Open Spaces, An historical account', LB Lambeth 1979

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