London Gardens Online
London Gardens Online


Millbank Estate including Millbank Gardens Westminster


Millbank Gardens is a rectangular public garden that was created as part of the LCC's Millbank Estate of 1897-1902, whose towering mansion blocks overlook the garden. The Millbank Estate was built on a site formerly that of the Millbank Penitentiary, which had been earmarked for public housing by a Royal Commission in 1885, with its road plan established in 1896. The estate streets are tree-lined, with planted courtyards between blocks of different shapes. Surrounded by modern railings, the public garden has paving and areas of grass with terraces in the centre and at each end. There are a number of trees and planted tubs, as well as bedding displays.

Basic Details

Site location:
John Islip Street/Bessborough Place/Erasmus Street, Millbank

SW1V 3SG ( Google Map)

Type of site:
Public Gardens Housing/Estate Landscaping


London County Council, supervised by R Minton Taylor

Listed structures:
LBII: 12 blocks on Millbank Estate: Ruskin House, Romney (Stubbs) House, Landseer House, Leighton House, Millais House, Mulready House, Lawrence House, Maclise House, Turner House, Wilkie House, Morland House, Rossetti House


Site ownership:

Site management:
Parks Service (Contractors: Continental Landscapes Ltd). Millbank Estate Management Organisation

Open to public?

Opening times:
8am - dusk

Special conditions:



Public transport:
Tube: Pimlico (Victoria)

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/01/2014
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:

Conservation Area name:

Tree Preservation Order:

Nature Conservation Area:

Green Belt:

Metropolitan Open Land:

Special Policy Area:

Other LA designation:
London Square

Fuller information

The area gets its name from a mill that once stood here belonging to Westminster Abbey. In 1730 the mill was replaced by a private house, itself later demolished in the early C19th when the Millbank Penitentiary was built. The prison operated from 1816 - 1890 and was eventually demolished when the Tate Gallery (q.v.) was built. Part of the site of the former Penitentiary was earmarked for public housing by a Royal Commission in 1885, with its road plan established in 1896.

The Millbank Estate of 1897-1902 echoed and pushed further the LCC's aims of providing high standards of design for working class housing of its earlier Boundary Estate in Shoreditch (q.v.). Intended to house 4,430 people and built along Arts and Crafts socialist principles, the estate was designed with careful consideration to quality and detailing. Unlike other large housing projects, tenants were not obliged to share toilet and scullery facilities, and spacious courtyards, now planted, were provided between blocks of different shapes. The estate streets were tree-lined and Millbank Gardens was provided as a public amenity for the estate, a rectangular garden from which the estate layout radiated. The earliest block on the estate, Hogarth House of 1897-9 was designed by R. Minton Taylor, who also designed or oversaw all but one of the other blocks. When completed, the estate consisted of 17 red-brick mansion blocks named after eminent artists including Turner, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Wilkie and Ruskin. Millbank Primary School, built over the prison graveyard, was provided at the same time as the estate.

Now surrounded by modern railings, Millbank Gardens has long been a popular amenity for residents and visitors. It once had a lily pond, and the landscaping today consists of paving and areas of grass, with terraces in the centre and at each end, a number of trees and planted tubs, as well as bedding displays, and a red brick shelter to the south. During WWII a bomb landed in the gardens, but luckily did not explode, although buildings on the estate suffered bomb damage. A reminder of the old Penitentiary remains as part of its old moat in the courtyard of Wilkie House, which was used as the Estate's communal drying area and recently transformed into a community garden in 2013.

Today the Millbank Estate is made up of 561 individual flats, occupied by 55% leaseholders and 45% council tenants. Since 1997 it has been managed on behalf of WCC by the Millbank Estate Management Organisation (MEMO), a non-profit Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) run by and for the residents of the Estate. The Millbank Estate has won a number of awards, including two in the 2013 NFTMO Awards for 'Initiative in the Community' and 'Initiative in Tackling Anti-social Behaviour'.

In 2011 the Peabody Trust acquired a number of residential properties in the Pimlico area from the Crown Estate, but not within the LCC estate, although confusingly adopted the same name, Millbank Estate.

Sources consulted:

Simon Bradley and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 6: Westminster', (Yale University Press, 2003), p709/10; information on Millbank Estate Management Organisation website, including 'The Story of Millbank Estate'. Made by young residents with the Young Film Academy, 2011; Susan Beattie, 'A Revolution in London Housing', 1980.

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