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Buckingham Palace Gardens * Westminster

Buckingham Palace Gardens *

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* on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens

Buckingham Palace has been the residence of the reigning monarch since the time of George IV. The framework of the present gardens, with its fine lake, lawns, horticultural displays, and woodland, date from the informal layout of c.1826 for the Prince Regent, which replaced formal gardens created for the Duke of Buckingham in the early C18th.
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Site location: Buckingham Palace Gardens
Postcode: SW1A 1AA
Type of site: Private Garden 
Date(s): c.1826
Designer(s): William Townsend Aiton
Listed structures: LBI: Buckingham Palace; Colonnade Screen (c.1830) Palace Forecourt railings, gate piers, gates, lamps (1901-11); Queen Victoria Memorial; Admiralty Temple; Waterloo Vase
Borough: Westminster
Site ownership: The Crown
Site management:
Open to public? Partially
Opening times: Part of garden visible when Buckingham Palace is open for tours (usually August/September, check website)
Special conditions: Admission charge (check website)
Facilities: Shop; café, toilets
Events: Tours by arrangement; garden parties; special events
Public transport: Tube: Victoria (District, Circle, Victoria); Green Park (Victoria, Jubilee); Hyde Park Corner (Piccadilly). Bus: 11, 211, C1, C10
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/09/2009
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Fuller information:

Site on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens, for Register Entry see

Buckingham Palace was designed by John Nash (1752-1835) in 1825 for the Prince Regent, later George IV. It was an extensive remodelling and enlargement of an existing property called Buckingham House built in 1703-05, itself on the site of Goring House, later known as Arlington House. Nash's work on the scheme lasted from 1826 to 1830/1, when questions arose about his management as the project far exceeded its budget. He was replaced by Edward Blore (1787-1879), who completed the building in 1837 and later designed the east range of 1847-50, which enclosed the east forecourt and replaced Marble Arch (q.v.). The Ballroom Block and Ambassadors' Court designed by James Pennethorne were built in 1853-54. In 1913 Sir Aston Webb (1849-1930) created a new façade as part of his work on the Queen Victoria Memorial to the east of the Palace.

The surrounding area remained largely rural until the late C18th. The earliest garden activity in the region of today's Buckingham Palace took place in 1608/9 when James I had a c.2-hectare plot in what is now St James's Park (q.v.) planted with mulberry trees with a view to establishing a silk industry. This walled area was known as Mulberry Garden and had a tea house, but it proved an unsuccessful venture. It was purchased in 1640 by Lord Goring who owned the adjacent Goring House. In 1660 Goring House passed to Charles II's favourite Henry Bennet, Earl of Arlington, who rebuilt the house in c.1674 following a fire, and renamed it Arlington House. It was inherited in 1685 by his daughter, the Duchess of Grafton, who sold it in 1702 to John Sheffield, Earl of Mulgrave, who became Duke of Buckingham in 1703. The present area of Buckingham Palace Gardens is consistent with that of the Duke's time. He aligned his new Buckingham House with the Mall, and enlarged his property by purchasing Crow Fields in the north-west and taking a small portion of St James's Park. He had formal gardens laid out to the north-west, west and south-west of the house, with terraces, parterres, pools and fountains designed by Henry Wise (1653-1738), gardener to Queen Anne. After his death in 1721 Buckingham House passed to his wife, and then to his son Charles Herbert, who sold it in 1761 to George III, who used it as a retreat from St James's Palace. The boundary walls along Grosvenor Place and Constitution Hill date from the C18th and early C19th. The formal gardens within the walls were largely swept away when John Nash built Buckingham Palace for the Prince Regent, and new gardens in informal landscape style were laid out by William Townsend Aiton, Superintendent of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew (q.v.), who continued to advise on the gardens at Buckingham Palace during William IV's reign and the early part of Victoria's reign.

The principal feature of the C19th layout was the serpentine lake dating from 1828, the island added in 1835. The bridge to the island dates from 1841; in the mid-C20th a cascade was added at the north-west tip of the lake, later replaced by a waterfall in 1991.The lake is noted for the variety of its waterside plants, and also for numerous water birds. The spoil from the excavation of the lake was used to create a sizeable mound or embankment along the south side. In 1904 Pulham & Co created rockwork on The Mound and around the lake for Edward VII. The Mound, coupled with planting of trees along the south, south-west and north boundaries, achieved remarkable privacy for the gardens. Winding paths were laid out among the boundary trees and shrubs, together with a broad lawn between the West Terrace of the Palace and the lake. The C19th framework has been maintained, while the gardens have seen continuous development of the planting, both of trees and shrubs, and of areas of bedding or borders. Tennis courts were added in c.1919, and a wooden Tea House in c.1939. In 1972 a Silver Garden was created for the silver wedding anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh. The notable herbaceous border along the north-east boundary of the gardens, extending over 155m by over 6m deep, dates from the late C20th, replacing an earlier border of seasonal bedding. Between the Admiralty Temple and the Waterloo Vase is a C20th rose garden.

Architectural features in the gardens include the Coade stone balustrade decorated with classical urns on the West Terrace to the Palace; the C18th Admiralty Temple or Summer House in the north-west quarter, which was brought here in 1901 from the Admiralty, and the Waterloo Vase. Made of Carrara marble and standing at 4.5m, the Vase was made for Napoleon Bonaparte in 1812. It was presented to the Prince Regent and later carved by Sir Richard Westmacott. William IV gave it to the National Gallery who later re-presented it to Edward VII in 1906 and it was placed in the gardens, now in a glade of trees. On the north bank of the lake are a pair of bronze Japanese cranes, presented to Edward VII while on a visit to India in 1903. A pavilion built on the Mound in 1844 for Prince Albert and Queen Victoria and named after Milton's 'Comus' was later removed in 1928.

Although still predominantly a private garden, the grounds have been regularly used for Royal Garden Parties since the accession of Queen Elizabeth II. Buckingham Palace first opened to the public for tours in 2009, and part of the garden is now included at the end of the visit.

Sources consulted:

E Cecil, London Parks and Gardens, (1907), pp350-56; Peter Coats, 'The Gardens of Buckingham Palace', ( Michael Joseph, London, 1978); Nathan Cole, Royal Parks and Gardens of London, (1877); Nikolaus Pevsner, rev Bridget Cherry, London I, 1985, pp504-510; G Plumptre, Royal Gardens, (1981), pp158-178; G Taylor, Old London Gardens, 1977, pp161-168.
Grid ref: TQ288796
Size in hectares: c.16
On EH National Register : Yes
EH grade : Grade II*
Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:
Registered common or village green
on Commons Registration Act 1965:
Protected under London Squares
Preservation Act 1931:
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: Royal Parks
Tree Preservation Order: No
Nature Conservation Area: Yes - Metropolitan Importance
Green Belt: No
Metropolitan Open Land: Yes
Special Policy Area: No
Other LA designation:

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