Un­lock­ing the gates to the cap­i­tal’s se­cret gar­dens

The Daily Telegraph - Property - - Front Page -

As pock­ets of tran­quil green space in the heart of the city, gar­den squares are a par­tic­u­larly English con­cept. Cre­ated by the Ge­or­gians and the Vic­to­ri­ans to bring the feel­ing of the coun­try­side into town, these squares – ovals or cres­cents – were built for peo­ple to live in.

“Gar­den squares of­fered the Ge­or­gians, with their height­ened sen­si­bil­ity, a cen­tre in which to pa­rade among their neigh­bours while catch­ing up on lo­cal gos­sip,” says David Macken­zie of agent Carter Jonas. “They were – and still are – gar­dens to be en­joyed, with­out the has­sle of main­te­nance.”

Whether it’s as leafy spots to en­joy a glass of wine with your neigh­bours on sum­mer evenings or as chil­dren’s play­grounds, these squares re­main a vi­tal part of nur­tur­ing com­mu­ni­ties. They also pro­vide vi­tal bio­di­ver­sity with their ma­ture trees, or fruit and veg, in the case of Golden Bag­gers, a res­i­dents’ food-grow­ing gar­den on the Golden Lane Estate in the city of Lon­don.

While many of the his­toric gar­den squares are famed for sit­ting in pres­ti­gious Lon­don en­claves such as Bel­gravia, May­fair or Kens­ing­ton – Ea­ton, Bel­grave and Cado­gan Squares are prime ex­am­ples – oth­ers are se­cret lit­tle hide­aways or more mod­ern de­signs within new hous­ing es­tates or de­vel­op­ments.

The sheer di­ver­sity of them across 25 Lon­don bor­oughs will be on show this week­end, when more than 200 pri­vate gar­dens will be opened to the pub­lic dur­ing the Open Gar­den Squares event (open­squares. org). You will have the chance to wan­der around the wind­ing Vic­to­rian paths and lime trees of Fas­sett Square in Hack­ney, which in­spired the set of EastEn­ders, or a prize-win­ning mod­ern se­cret gar­den in Not­ting Hill’s Wes­ley Square, a coown­er­ship com­mu­nity de­signed in the late Seven­ties by Sir Terry Far­rell.

Also in Lon­don’s W11 (and open for view­ing), is Ros­mead Gar­dens, where Hugh Grant and Ju­lia Roberts tres­passed in the film Not­ting Hill. Many gar­den squares are the sub­ject of an­cient covenants that gov­ern both ac­cess and their us­age. While some gar­dens in South Kens­ing­ton pre­clude any pub­lic ac­cess what­so­ever – and some gar­dens ban dogs and chil­dren – re­stric­tions may have been eased over the years, with some now in pub­lic own­er­ship. So what are the ben­e­fits of liv­ing on a res­i­dents-only square?

Suzanne Ether­ton has lived with her hus­band and two chil­dren in a three­bed­room apart­ment on Grade II listed Cleveland Square in Bayswa­ter, west Lon­don, for 23 years. The one-and-ahalf acre gar­den square dates from 1865 and in­cludes lawns, ma­ture trees and a pro­fu­sion of pe­onies, al­li­ums and fox­gloves, thanks to Ether­ton’s role as gar­den man­ager.

“I grew up on a gar­den square and re­ally wanted our chil­dren to have the same ex­pe­ri­ence. Shared gar­dens are great for fam­ily life,” says Ether­ton, 54, whose role in­spired her to be­come a professional gar­den de­signer.

“Chil­dren can make friends with their neigh­bours and it’s a great way for them to gain in­de­pen­dence. We have happy

Not­ting Hill, be­low right, £13.227m with Knight Frank

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