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Tate Gardens Streatham * Lambeth


* on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens

Tate Gardens Streatham is a remnant of a villa garden laid out from 1835 that was improved in the 1880s for Sir Henry Tate. In the C20th it was occupied by St Michael's Convent and in 2000 developed for private housing. Although some of the features are lost there are remnants of the C19th layout. This includes a small summerhouse and the long terrace with low stucco wall, flights of steps and sphinxes that overlooks the main lawn, below which is the small lake. In the grounds are an octagonal gothic castle, Pulhamite rockwork resembling a gorge and other artificial stonework. The remains of the original kitchen garden and a 1930s orchard are also evident. Mature trees include Wellingtonia and holm oak.

Basic Details

Previous / Other name:
St Michael's Convent; Park Hill

Site location:
Streatham Common North

SW16 3HA ( Google Map)

Type of site:
Housing/Estate Landscaping

1830s; 1880s

J B Papworth; Robert Marnock

Listed structures:
LBII*: St Michael's Convent/Park Hill. LBII: entrance gates; terrace walls, steps, Doric summerhouse


Site ownership:
Barratt Homes Limited - will be jointly owned by residents

Site management:
Tate Gardens Management Ltd

Open to public?

Opening times:
private communal gardens, but plans to have a number of public open days p.a.

Special conditions:



Public transport:
Rail: Streatham then bus. Bus: 249

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/08/2002
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:
Grade II

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:

Conservation Area name:

Tree Preservation Order:
Not known

Nature Conservation Area:

Green Belt:

Metropolitan Open Land:

Special Policy Area:

Other LA designation:

Fuller information

St Michael's Convent: Site on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens, for Register Entry see

Park Hill, a neo-classical villa set in its own grounds on a hilltop site north of Streatham Common (q.v.), was built in c1835 by J B Papworth for London draper, William Leaf. Papworth's designs included conservatories and an aviary; a long west terrace overlooked gardens, which sloped down towards a small lake. The garden was described in 1849 by William Keane as having a gothic summerhouse, a deep dell arched with massive rockwork, lawns, evergreen shrubs, and a kitchen garden with heated glasshouses. In 1873-4 Pulham & Co provided a folly in the form of a ruined tower, rocky ravine walkway, grottos and bridge. The estate retains its C19th wrought-iron entrance gates and lodge 100m to the south-east of the house, which is approached via a drive through shrubbery to the lawn in front of the south front. In 1864 the 1st edition OS Map shows two drives from the same entrance gates, one curving around the west front of the house, another curving past the east front before joining up with the main path. The remains of the walled kitchen gardens are still found to the north-east of the terrace and north of the house, although the vineries and hot houses have been replaced by modern buildings.

The estate was acquired by the sugar refiner Henry Tate whose alterations to the house included a porte-cochère on the entrance front of the house, added in 1880. Tate was originally from Lancashire and had worked in sugar refinery in Liverpool, patenting his invention to cut up sugar mechanically into cubes, after which he founded his own business in London and settled in Streatham Common at Park Hill in 1884. Tate commissioned Robert Marnock to redesign the gardens in C18th picturesque style, with lawns to the west and south-west, belts of trees or shrubbery on the south border along Streatham Common North, a small lake in the south-west corner with a bridge, grotto and octagonal Gothic ruin. The long terrace west of the house has urns and sculpture and a garden house or temple at the north end. The original conservatory on the north side of the house that housed mid-C19th rockwork by Pulham and a fernery later suffered damage during WWII and was replaced by a modern building. In 1886 the approach to the house is described as a broad stretch of lawn only interrupted by fine trees. Tate, an avid art collector of works largely by Victorian artists, established a gallery in a wing of his mansion for his collection of paintings and sculpture. He later donated his collection to the nation to become the nucleus of the new Tate Gallery at Millbank, which opened in 1897, built at his expense for £80,000; Tate was knighted in 1898. He also established a number of charities in London and Liverpool, including two free libraries in Lambeth, one of which is the Tate Library in Brixton, built in 1893, and a theatre, built in 1894. He died in 1899, and is buried in West Norwood Cemetery (q.v.).

From c.1920 until 2000, Park Hill was in the ownership of St Michael's Convent for the Congregation of the Poor Servants of the Mother of God. The convent was responsible for building a chapel to the east of the house and sold land to the east for development in the mid 1930s, when Benhurst Court was built. In 2000 housing developers Barratt acquired the estate, converting the main villa into flats, converting the outbuildings and building 23 houses in the grounds, but with most of the garden preserved and restored.

Sources consulted:

Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England: London 2: South' (Penguin) 1999; Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); William Keane, 'The Beauties of Surrey', 1849, pp81-4; Garden, 29, 1886, pp568-9; Garden History 16, no 1 Spring 1988, pp96-97

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