|Porchester Square Gardens||Westminster|
Porchester Square is a mid-C19th square completed by 1858, one of the last areas of Bayswater to be developed. The overall layout was overseen by George Gutch, the surveyor of the Bishop of London's extensive Paddington Estate from 1822. The garden was provided for the private use of occupiers of the square, and was managed by a Committee of occupiers. Porchester Square Gardens were acquired by Paddington Borough Council and opened to the public in 1955. Only the peripheral walk relates to the original layout, and the planting, beds and path layout have since been remodelled.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/11/2007
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At least 8 builders were responsible for building the houses of Porchester Square, evidenced by the variety of architectural detail. The terrace to the north was built in 1851 by George Wyatt. The square is named from one of the estates in Hampshire of the Thistlewaite family who had leased land from the Bishop of London from at least 1750. The garden enclosure was provided as a private garden for occupiers of the square, and it was managed by a Committee of occupiers, the expenses of maintenance assessed proportionately on each house. The Paddington Estate Trustees had the power to undertake maintenance work in the case of neglect. In 1928 the garden was described as 'an oblong enclosure flanked on three sides by roads and on one (long) side by the rear of buildings. Enclosed by a wall and, in parts, an untidy solid fence'. It was laid out with lawns and flower beds.
In 1955 the Church Commissioners offered leases on the houses on the square for sale, as a result of which the northern side and some of the surrounding area were purchased by the LCC in order to rehabilitate the houses. This was completed in the mid-1960s by the GLC, who succeeded the LCC. The gardens had been acquired by Paddington Borough Council and first opened to the public in 1955. There is a row of lime trees down the length of the garden, but only the peripheral walk relates to the 1872 OS Map, and beds and path layout have been remodelled since 1862-5. Mature trees include London plane and there are also Indian horse chestnut trees planted to replace trees damaged in the 1987 storm. The square is bounded by recent railings; there are ornamental bedding displays, and a play area at the east end.
The Porchester Centre to the west of the square was built in 1925 when the baths were opened. Porchester Hall and the Paddington Library were added in 1929 and 1930, the latter overlooking the square from the western end. Photographs c.1900 of The Lodge, Porchester Square, show wall and gate piers surmounted by cast iron lamps at the entrance on Porchester Road.
The garden won its first Green Flag Award in 2008.
Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 3: North West' (Penguin, 1999 ed); WCC Porchester Square Gardens Management Plan 2008-2013; Report of the Royal Commission on London Squares, 1928