|Lillington Gardens Estate and Longmoore Gardens||Westminster|
Lillington Gardens Estate was designed by architects Darbourne and Darke for WCC as one of the first low-rise high-density housing projects in London. It was built in 3 phases between 1964-1972. The landscaping around the estate and between blocks was an integral part of the scheme, and included planting on broad access balconies and walkways. The original landscaping has been considerably developed since 1996 with involvement of residents and includes individual garden areas with a wide range of shrubs, herbaceous plants and bulbs, as well as a Mediterranean garden, an exotic border, sensory garden with fountain, and a wildlife garden. Longmoore Gardens, designed by WCC Architects Department, was completed by 1980. In 2007/8 Lillington Gardens was the first housing estate to win a Green Flag Award.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/06/2013
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Photo: Colin Wing
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Lillington Gardens Estate was designed for WCC in the 1960s by architects Darbourne and Darke and was one of the first low-rise high-density housing projects in London. The area now taken up by the housing estate was largely undeveloped until the mid C19th; between what is now Victoria Station and the river was once the old manor of Neyte or Neat, which is referred to in the Domesday Survey. It belonged to the Abbey of Westminster until 1536 when it was taken by Henry VIII at the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and it became a farm in 1592. From 1677 it was owned by the Grosvenor family, along with the Ebury Estate, following Sir Thomas Grosvenor's marriage to heiress Mary Davies, remaining in the family until 1953 when the Grosvenor estate sold its Pimlico holdings. Part of the land was at one time leased to Royal Gardener Henry Wise (1653-1738), who designed the gardens at Kensington Palace (q.v.) for Queen Anne. From the early C17th until 1825 the Neat House Gardens covered over 100 acres of the area, including the site of Lillington Gardens Estate, and comprised osier beds, market and kitchen gardens supplying much of London's requirements, particularly for vegetables. Construction of Vauxhall Bridge Road began in 1816 and in 1825 Thomas Cubitt started to develop the Grosvenor land in Pimlico, buying out the Neat House gardeners. In 1827 he raised the level of the ground here, hitherto low-lying and somewhat swampy, and the area was then developed for housing in the 1830s and 40s. Edward Stanford’s Library Map of London and its Suburbs, 1862, shows Lillington Street and Upper Gardens Street laid out in the area of the later estate.
Although only parts of Pimlico were damaged by WWII bombing, much of its Victorian streetscape was re-developed from the 1950s as part of WCC’s post-war housing programme. In 1961 young architect John Darbourne won the design competition for the new housing and established his partnership with Geoffrey Darke in order to undertake the scheme. Construction of the Lillington Gardens Estate began in 1964 and took place in three phases, completed in 1972. The estate comprises a large, irregular complex of cantilevered, red brick council housing and the landscaping was an integral part of the scheme, designed to encourage social interaction. The blocks were separated by areas of grass and shrubbery, with the ground contoured in places and with brick paths, steps and planters defining the different parts of the estate and emphasising its diverse urban character. In addition to lawns, trees and shrubbery there was planting on broad access balconies and walkways. In the 3rd phase, which comprised the main part of Stourhead, Wisley, Priory, Exbury, Longleat and Thorndike, there were also private gardens provided.
However, the original landscaping has been considerably developed since 1996 with involvement of the residents. It now provides a number of individual garden areas with a wide range of shrubs, herbaceous plants and bulbs, classic mixed borders, a Mediterranean garden, an exotic border with yuccas, palms, agaves, cannas, a sensory garden with a fountain, pergolas, flowers and vegetables, and a wildlife garden with a pond, annual and perennial meadows, coppice and a native hedge. Some of the ground floor properties have small private gardens. The upper balconies to the Vauxhall Bridge Road are in places planted with trailing plants, often with spectacular results. Embedded within the estate, and nicknamed the 'Lily among the weeds', is the Church of St James the Less, its Parish Room and School Buildings, all designed by George Edmund Street and built c1861. The striped red-brick buildings contribute much to the character of the setting. In front of the church is a grove of young trees planted in a grid with brick paviours between.
Longmoore Gardens was designed by WCC Architects Department and was completed by 1980, a series of three blocks around a triangular garden area.
The estate gardens have regularly won prizes in the Westminster in Bloom competition in the Best Kept Housing section, and Best Garden for Wildlife section. The estate was formerly managed by a Tenants Management Organisation, but in 2002 CityWest Homes took over this role. There continues to be active resident involvement in maintenance of the garden areas, with a flourishing Garden Club, a family 'grow your own' garden and there are plans for allotments. In 2007/8 it was the first housing estate to win a Green Flag Award, and retained this for 6 years running. A new wildlife pond has been funded through Awards for All.
Edward Jones & Christopher Woodward, A Guide to the Architecture of London, London 1983, p. 323; Lillington Gardens Conservation Area leaflet, 2004; CityWest Homes website; G E Mitton & others, ed. Sir Walter Besant 'The Fascination of London, Mayfair, Belgravia and Bayswater', (Adam & Charles Black, 1903); Edward Walford, Old and New London Vol 5' (1878), chapter iv 'Pimlico'