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Prince's Gardens Westminster
   
Summary: The central garden of Prince's Gardens is overlooked by remnants of the grand mid C19th terraces of the square, which was built on part of the former Brompton Park Boarding School. Imperial College of Science and Technology, founded in 1907 and which occupied land to the west of Exhibition Road, was expanding from 1953 onwards, and acquired land at Prince's Gardens. In 1963 it opened new student lodgings on the south side of Prince's Gardens, with Linstead Hall later built on the east side. These buildings have now been replaced as part of a scheme that included restoration of the gardens. The gardens comprise a lawn crossed by irregular paths skirting a grand central bed with an urn and contain fine mature plane trees and shrubberies.
Previous / Other name:
Site location: Prince's Gardens, Knightsbridge
Postcode: SW7 > Google Map
Type of site: Garden Square; Public Gardens
Date(s): Mid C19th
Designer(s): 2006: Kim Wilkie
Listed structures: LBII: mid C19th terraced houses
Borough: Westminster
Site ownership: Imperial College
Site management: Imperial College
Open to public? Yes
Opening times: unrestricted
Special conditions:
Facilities:
Events:
Public transport: Tube: South Kensington (District, Circle, Piccadilly). Bus: 9, 10, 14, 49, 52, 70, 74, 345, 360, 414, 430
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.imperial.ac.uk/princesgardens

Fuller information:

A spacious mid-C19th garden square, Prince's Gardens was partly built on the site of the Brompton Park Boarding School. The central garden is overlooked by remnants of the grand terraced houses, but the overall character of the square became eroded by vacant sites and inappropriate rebuilding. Imperial College of Science and Technology, which had been founded in 1907 and occupied land to the west of Exhibition Road, began expanded greatly from 1953 onwards, following the government announcement on 29 January 1950 that it was intended that the College should expand to meet the scientific and technological challenges of the C20th. As a result the then Rector Sir Roderic Hill launched the Jubilee Expansion Scheme. By 1959, more student accommodation was needed and Sir Patrick Linstead, who had become Rector in 1954, obtained land south of Prince's Gate at Prince's Gardens across Exhibition Road. In 1960-63 the south side of Prince's Gardens was rebuilt to provide new student lodgings. Designed by architects Sheppard Robson & Partners, Southside Halls were opened in 1963 by Princess Margaret, and the building was subsequently listed. In 1968 another hall was opened, originally to be called New Hall, but renamed Linstead Hall after Sir Patrick who had died in 1966. In 1976, Linstead Hall Extension was built on the east side of Prince's Gardens. However by the early C21st these buildings were not only deteriorating, but also no longer met the college needs to provide residential accommodation for its students. As a result a new scheme was drawn up in 2004, which was approved by 2005, and Southside and Linstead Halls of Residence were demolished in 2006 with two new buildings, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, now built to provide six Halls of Residence.

As part of this scheme, Imperial College also undertook to restore the central gardens and commissioned landscape architects Kim Wilkie to prepare proposals with the aim of recapturing the spirit of the original gardens with London plane trees planted in open grassland. A new network of paths across the gardens that responds to pedestrian 'desire' lines has been laid out. The original railings to the north and south of the gardens and the urn at its centre have been restored and new lighting has made the gardens a safe environment at night. The road to the north of the square remains the only through street. The original mature plane trees have been retained and gaps in the edges have been replanted with new plane trees, together with planting of smaller ornamental trees. To enable the new plane tree planting and the restoration scheme, 16 more-recently planted trees, mostly small ornamental trees not in scale with the square, have been removed.

Sources consulted:

Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 3: North West' (1991, reprinted 1999); Imperial College website, Centenary website timeline.
Grid ref: TQ268794
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:
Yes
 
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: CA
Tree Preservation Order: No
Nature Conservation Area: No
Green Belt: No
Metropolitan Open Land: No
Special Policy Area: No
Other LA designation:
   

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