10 unusual parks or gardens in London…6. The Hill Garden and Pergola, Hampstead…

A view of the pergola. PICTURE: Kent Wang (licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)

Tucked away in the north-west of Hampstead Heath is a Edwardian-era garden and extravagant pergola that were originally created for a mansion but are now open to the public.

The garden and pergola were created on the orders of the wealthy William H Lever, later Lord Leverhulme, who in 1904 purchased a sizeable Georgian townhouse on the Heath called “The Hill”. Remodelling the house extensively, Lever wanted to also create a garden where he could entertain and sought the help of renowned landscape architect Thomas Mawson to design one on what was steeply sloping land.

Mawson’s plan involved raising the level of the gardens by up to 30 feet and creating a series of terraces. This was made possible due in part to the close proximity of the Hampstead extension of the Northern Line of the Tube – Lever paid to have the spoil which had been dug out to make the Tube tunnels transported the short distance to his garden so it could be used to build it up.

An Italianate pergola was constructed on the boundary between 1905 and 1906, providing views over West Heath while at the same time preventing the general public from looking into the garden. The gardens and pergola were subsequently extended after he bought the neighbouring property in 1911 – the same year Lever was made a baronet – and again in with further works completed in 1925 just months before the now-Lord Leverhulme’s death.

A view of the pergola. PICTURE: Kent Wang (licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)

The property was sold to Scots shipping magnate Lord Inverforth and, on his death in 1955, was bequeathed it to the private Manor House Hospital. Following a long period of neglect, London County Council bought the pergola and the gardens which had once been those of the neighbouring property, Heath Lodge, and opened them to the public in 1963 as the Hill Garden.

The City of London Corporation took over management with the abolition of the GLC in 1986 and restoration work was carried out. When the hospital closed in 1998 and the house was sold for luxury housing, further works were carried out and the public part of the gardens took on their current form.

WHERE: The Hill Garden and Pergola, Inverforth Close, North End Way, Hampstead (nearest Tube stations are Golders Green or Hampstead Heath); WHEN: 8:30am to 8pm daily; Daily; COST: Free; WEBSITE: www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/green-spaces/hampstead-heath/where-to-go-at-hampstead-heath/hill-garden-and-pergola.

10 unusual parks or gardens in London…4. Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden…

PICTURE: Courtesy of VisitLondon.com

This garden can be found on the roof of the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre.

The 1,200 square metre garden, which was created in 2011 as part of the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Festival of Britain celebrations, was developed in partnership with the Eden Project.

It is maintained by volunteers from Grounded Ecotherapy, a group which offers people dealing with issues like homelessness and addiction help through horticulture.

The Garden features more than 200 wild native plants as well as a lawn, paths and paving – and stunning views across the river. There’s also a cafe and bar.

WHERE: Queen Elizabeth hall Roof Garden (nearest Tube stations are Waterloo and Embankment); WHEN: Wednesday to Sunday from noon; COST: Free; WEBSITE: www.southbankcentre.co.uk/visit/outdoor/queen-elizabeth-hall-roof-garden-cafe-bar.

10 unusual parks or gardens in London…3. Crossbones Graveyard and Garden of Remembrance…

The Crossbones Cemetery in 2017. PICTURE: Matt Brown (licensed under CC BY 2.0)

This small walled garden, located in Southwark, for centuries served as a burial site for the poor of the area nd by the time of its closing in 1853, was the location of some 15,000 burials.

The graveyard is said to have started life as an unconsecrated burial site for ‘Winchester Geese’, sex workers in the medieval period who were licensed to work in the brothels of the Liberty of the Clink by the Bishop of Winchester.

Excavations carried out in the 1990s confirmed a crowded graveyard was on the site.

While the site had been neglected for years following its closure, in 1996 local writer John Constable and a group he co-founded, the Friends of Crossbones, began a campaign to transform Crossbones into a garden of remembrance – something which has happened thanks to their efforts and those of the Bankside Open Spaces Trust and others.

Tributes left on the fence outside the graveyard in Red Cross Way. PICTURE: Garry Knight (licensed under CC BY 2.0)

The garden provides a contemplative space for people to pay their respects to what have become known as the “outcast dead”.

A plaque, funded by Southwark Council, was installed on the gates in 2006 which records the history of the site and the efforts to create a memorial shrine.

WHERE: Crossbones Graveyard, Redcross Way, Southwark (nearest Tube stations are London Bridge and Borough); WHEN: Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays 12 to 2pm; COST: Free; WEBSITE: www.bost.org.uk/crossbones-graveyard.

10 unusual parks or gardens in London…2. Brown Hart Gardens…

Looking east in the Brown Hart Gardens with the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in the background. PICTURE: Kotomi_ (licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0)

This elevated 10,000 square foot garden, located between Duke and Balderton Streets in Mayfair on the Grosvenor Estate, actually sits over the top of an electricity substation.

The now Grade II-listed substation was built in the early 20th century and the garden, which opened in 1906, was designed by Sir Charles Stanley Peach (also the designer of Wimbledon’s Centre Court) to provide some open space in what was then a working class residential area (not to mention its role disguising the substation below).

The garden replaced one which had formerly occupied the substation site and it was apparently at the insistence of the then-Duke of Westminster that the paved Italian-style garden be created following the demolition of the old garden.

It features a Portland stone domed gazebo and steps at either end.

Looking west in the gardens towards the cafe. PICTURE: Andy Thornley (licensed under CC BY 2.0)

The garden deck remained open until 1980 when it was closed by the London Electricity Board. It reopened in October, 2007. A refurbishment project several years later saw the addition of a glass-walled cafe at the western end and other improvements including new planter boxes, seats and a new water feature.

The surrounding housing blocks were built in the late 19th century to replace the poor housing that had previously existed and since 1973 have been under the care of the Peabody Trust.

WHERE: Brown Hart Gardens, Duke Street, Mayfair (nearest Tube stations are Bond Street and Marble Arch); WHEN: Daily, 8am to 8pm; COST: Free; WEBSITE: www.grosvenor.com/property/property-uk/brown-hart-gardens.

10 unusual parks or gardens in London…1. Kyoto Garden…

The sun’s shining and it’s a good time to get outdoors so for our new special series we’re looking at 10 of London’s more unusual parks or gardens.

First up, we’re looking at a small slice of Japan in Holland Park – the Kyoto Garden.

PICTURE: Ewan Munro (licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

The garden was created in the summer of 1991 as a co-operative project between the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the Kyoto Chamber of Commerce in Japan to coincide with the 1991 Japan Festival that marked the centenary of the Anglo-Japanese Society.

PICTURE: Pedro Plassen Lopes (licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0)

It was opened by the Prince Charles and, Naruhito, the Crown Prince of Japan, in September that year.

Designed by a renowned Japanese landscape architect Shoji Nakahara, it features a large pond complete with a tiered waterfall, a small bridge and stone lanterns. Among the plants are Japanese maple trees and Sakura trees while koi swim in the pond and peacocks roam the foliage.

The garden received a makeover in 2011.

Next to the garden is a second Japanese Garden, the Fukushima Memorial Garden, which was created in 2012 in recognition of the support the UK gave to the Prefecture of Fukushima following the 2011 tsunami.

WHERE: The Kyoto Garden, Holland Park (nearest Tube stations are Holland Park and Notting Hill Gate and nearest Overground is Kensington (Olympia)); WHEN: Daily, 7:30am until half an hour before dusk; COST: Free; WEBSITE: www.rbkc.gov.uk/leisure-and-culture/parks/holland-park.