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Abbey Orchard Estate: Little Abbey and Abbey Orchard Courtyard Garden Westminster
   
Summary: Little Abbey and Abbey Orchard Courtyard Garden are part of Peabody Trust's Abbey Orchard Estate near Westminster Abbey and as its name suggests it was once the site of an orchard. The six-storey blocks were constructed in 1882. After consultation with residents, the gardens and courtyards of Abbey Orchard were refurbished and form a private and secluded enclave in the heart of Westminster. A series of courtyard gardens include Little Abbey to the north and Abbey Orchard Courtyard Garden, created in 2003. The latter has an inscription 'ABBEY ORCHARD COURTYARD GARDEN/ A TUDOR VINEYARD THE MONKS OWN ORCHARD/ON THIS ANCIENT SITE WE HAVE A GARDEN AGAIN'.
Orchard Street, Westminster, south side looking east, watercolour 1877. Courtesy Westminster City Archives
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Previous / Other name:
Site location: Old Pye Street/Abbey Orchard Street
Postcode: SW1P 2LJ > Google Map
Type of site: Housing/Estate Landscaping
Date(s): 1882; re-landscaped 2003
Designer(s): 2003 Abbey Orchard Courtyard Garden designed by residents and Peabody Trust
Listed structures: Local list (unlisted buildings of merit): Blocks A-I Old Pye Street, Blocks A-Q Abbey Orchard Estate
Borough: Westminster
Site ownership: Peabody Trust
Site management: Peabody Trust
Open to public? Occasionally
Opening times: Has opened for OGSW. Otherwise private, for keyholders only
Special conditions:
Facilities:
Events: Has opened for OGSW
Public transport: Tube: St James's Park (District, Circle). Bus: 11, 24, 147, 211
Orchard Street, Westminster, south side looking east, watercolour 1877. Courtesy Westminster City Archives
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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.peabody.org.uk

Fuller information:

The Peabody Donation Fund was founded in 1862 by George Peabody (1795-1869), an American banker, diplomat and philanthropist who had moved to London in 1837. He was part of a circle of influential thinkers and social reformers that included Lord Shaftesbury, William Cobbett and Charles Dickens, and he became the first American to be awarded the Freedom of the City of London. His charitable works benefited a great many organisations, including education, music, science, banking and housing. At his funeral in 1869 Queen Victoria and Prince of Wales sent carriages to follow his coffin and William Gladstone, then Prime Minister, was one of the mourners at Westminster Abbey. Setting up his fund with a donation of £500,000, a gift that Queen Victoria described as 'wholly without parallel', Peabody's aim was to tackle the poverty and poor housing that he witnessed around him in London. The first Peabody estate was built in Spitalfields in 1864, which was followed by the Greenman Street Estate in Islington in 1865. All the pre-1900 estates were designed by architect Henry Darbishire. With a view to improving the residents' health, blocks of housing were separate from each other and a central space generally provided a safe area for children to play; shared facilities such as laundries, bathhouses, coal stores and pram sheds were usually provided and each estate was overseen by a resident superintendent. The Fund was initially restricted to building its estates within 8 miles of the Royal Exchange in the City.

From 1875 housing legislation came into effect that permitted slum clearance in London as a result of which Peabody was among the bodies that purchased cleared sites from the Metropolitan Board of Works, and was also required to provide housing for the displaced slum-dwellers. This led to a number of new Peabody estates being built in poor areas of London such as Whitechapel (1881), Whitecross Street (1883) and Clerkenwell (1884), and existing estates were also enlarged. From 1900 a Royal Charter enabled the Fund to operate over a 12 mile radius of the Royal Exchange and the improved transport network now in place across London also provided a better service for those travelling between home and work. Although estates continued to be built, for example at Bethnal Green (1910), Fulham (1912) and Vauxhall Bridge Road (1913), Peabody also began to build cottages, for example at Herne Hill (1901-05) and Tottenham (1907).

Peabody's estate architect from 1910-47 was Victor Wilkins, whose estates of the 1920s were more elaborate in design. The Hammersmith Estate (q.v.), built in 1926, was the last to have a separate bathhouse, and the Cleverly Estate (q.v.) in Shepherd's Bush was the first where each flat had its own bathroom. In the more stringent times of the 1930s the estate design became simpler and separate bathrooms were no longer provided; these estates included the Chelsea Manor Street (1931), Dalgarno Gardens (1934-8) and Clapham Estates (1936). Building ceased in WWII and many of the estates suffered damage and loss of life; the Hammersmith Estate was among those with severe bomb damage.

After the war a private Act of Parliament in 1948 extended Peabody's operational area to a 25 mile radius and new powers were granted to enable the Fund to carry out an extensive recovery programme of repair and replacement. The Roscoe Street Estate near the Barbican is an example of a new approach, with a different layout and tall tower blocks constructed around a single staircase. Modernisation of the older estates also began to be carried out. In addition, in the 1950s Peabody began to purchase other existing housing estates, the oldest being Parnell House in Bloomsbury of 1850 built by the Society for Improving the Condition of the Labouring Classes; the Shaftesbury Park Estate in Battersea, built in the 1870s by the Artizans' Labourers' and General Dwellings Company; the Carlton Square Estate in Mile End built in the 1850s by the Pemberton-Barnes family; the Ebury Estate of the 1870s built by the Improved Industrial Dwellings Company; and the Tachbrook Estate (q.v.) in Westminster, built in 1935-47 by Westminster Housing Trust. In 2011 four estates were purchased from the Crown Estate: Cumberland Market Estate, Millbank Estate in Pimlico, Lee Green in Lewisham and Victoria Park Estate in Hackney. A number of estates are LBII: Blackfriars Road, Parnell House, Shadwell and part of Ebury.

The Group currently owns and manages over 19,000 homes in London and runs various community programmes for its residents and neighbourhoods. In 2007 a 10-year programme of major improvements was launched, which includes environmental improvements to the open spaces of around 40 estates, carried out in consultation with the residents. These aim to improve access, safety and security as well as address issues such as waste management, climate change and biodiversity. Soft and hard landscaping, lighting, provision of play areas are among the works and residents' panels work with Peabody to select the landscape architects and other contractors for the programme.

There are three estates that make up Peabody's Abbey Orchard Group near Westminster Abbey and as its name suggests it was once the site of an orchard. Abbey Orchard Street Estate and Old Pye Street Estate comprise six-storey blocks that were constructed in 1882, and in 1922 Horseferry Road Estate was built. After consultation with residents, the gardens and courtyards of Abbey Orchard were refurbished and form a private and secluded enclave in the heart of Westminster. A series of courtyard gardens include Little Abbey to the north and Abbey Orchard Courtyard Garden, created in 2003. The latter has an inscription 'ABBEY ORCHARD COURTYARD GARDEN/ A TUDOR VINEYARD THE MONKS OWN ORCHARD/ON THIS ANCIENT SITE WE HAVE A GARDEN AGAIN', and a number of sculptures of fruit by Sarah Staton.

Sources consulted:

OGSW booklet 2010. Peabody history on www.peabody.org.uk
Grid ref: TQ298793
Size in hectares:
   
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: Peabody Estates: South Westminster
Tree Preservation Order: No
Nature Conservation Area: No
Green Belt: No
Metropolitan Open Land: No
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:
   

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