A Green Lambeth Walk

Route & what to see


A circular walk around parks and green spaces in Lambeth and west Southwark from Waterloo Station. There are 5 sections which can be walked as follows: 1/2/3/4/5 (5 miles), 2/3/5, 2/5, 1 (1 miles), 1/2/3/5, 2/4/5, 2/3/4/5 (3 miles), 1/2/4/5, 1/2/5, 1/2/4/5

Note: many of the parks are gated and open during daylight hours. Seating is provided in most gardens. Unless indicated they are accessible to wheelchairs.

Section 1
Exit into Waterloo Road. From main station use exit 2 opposite platform 5 (escalators or lift available). Cross and go left along Waterloo Road to the church of St John’s.

St John the Evangelist by Francis Bedford is one of the ‘Waterloo’ churches built in 1822-4. The church was badly bombed in WWII and in 1951 was restored and opened to serve as the parish church of the Festival of Britain. The churchyard was transformed into a garden in 1877 and social reformer Octavia Hill has traditionally been connected with it. North of the church are a number of fine tombs and a War Memorial. A garden of remembrance was created in 2000 and there are mosaics [
pix] and a small playground. The St John's Churchyard Friends Group created a community Knot Garden. www.stjohnswaterloo.co.uk

Exit into Secker Street and go around to the left. Left at Cornwall Road and right at Stamford Street. Left through Coin Street and right at Upper Ground to Bernie Spain Gardens.
Named after local resident and campaigner Bernadette Spain these occupy the site of the Eldorado Ice Cream Company premises. Features include a rest area for cyclists.

Go through the garden to the right, left at Stamford Street and right along Hatfields.
In the days of rural Lambeth there were fields here where beaver skins were prepared for hat manufacture. On the right there is a grassed area with trees. Beyond this is a small enclosed garden (private – property of Peabody estate).

Go left into Meymott Street, left at Colombo Street then left into Paris Garden.
The 100 acre Manor of Paris Garden dates to 1113. Originally owned by the Knights Templar it later passed to the Knights Hospitallers. The manor house, once owned by Jane Seymour, was acquired by the Bailiff of Southwark who opened it to the public for bowling and gambling. Customers for the theatres and bear gardens landed at nearby Paris Garden Stairs and often stopped for refreshments. Its unlit wooded gardens made it a popular (and dangerous) meeting place! In the Commonwealth period the area was used for bleaching cloth and in the reign of Charles II was developed with housing and a church (see below).

Go into Christchurch Garden behind the Rose & Crown pub.
The church was built in 1671 and re-built in 1738-41 with money bequeathed by John Marshall. The churchyard was extended in 1738 and again in 1817 when adjoining cottages were demolished. It closed to burials in 1856. In 1890-91 a Romanesque chancel was added but the church was destroyed by bombing on 17 April 1941. The place where the burning cross fell into the churchyard scorching the ground is marked with stones set into the grass. In 1960 a new church, designed by R Paxton Watson and B Costin (now the headquarters of the South London Industrial Mission Centre) was opened. Stained glass in the church depicts Southwark industries. In 1900 the churchyard had been laid out as a public garden maintained by St Saviours District Board of Works. A drinking fountain was donated by John Passmore Edwards. The garden was renovated to designs by Marcus Beale Architects in 2000 (see plaque). There is also a wildlife area.

Exit into Blackfriars Road
This road cut through the area in 1769 when Blackfriars Bridge was built.

Cross into Burrell Street and walk through. By the Holiday Inn cross Southwark Street into Hopton Street.
Hopton's Almshouses were founded by fishmonger Charles Hopton who had died in 1730. The 26 almshouses for 'poor decayed men' of the parish were erected in 1746-9 and opened in 1752. The residents, who included gardeners, watermen and fishermen were also granted 6 per year and 32 bushels of coal. In 1825 two extra houses were added. The complex includes two garden squares with centre lawns and roses, edged with shrubs. Outside the gates is a Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough. The almshouses were rebuilt and modernised in 1988 and remain used for housing owned by Anchor Trust.

Re-cross Southwark Street and go back along Bear Lane. Right at Dolben Street by the White Hart and left into Gambia Street.
A section of road was made into a community garden in 2003/4 [

At the end of this street cross Union Street into Nelson Square.
The Gardens were originally for the use of residents of the Square but in 1903 the owner Viscount Halifax gave the site to the LCC. It was laid out at a cost of 1,400 with half met by owners of the houses and the remainder by the LCC and Southwark Council. The terrace of houses at one corner are the only remaining original buildings, built between 1807 and 1810 and possibly designed by S Cockerell. There are rose beds and six mature plane trees. Improvements, designed by Jennifer Coe Landscape Architects, were carried out in 2000/1 to include new play equipment and sports areas.

Exit on the far side. Go through to Blackfriars Road and turn left.
Helen Gladstone House Garden is a new green space on the corner of Surrey Row. Local residents worked with the deputy housing manager at Library Street and Bankside Open Spaces Trust to raise funds and choose a design.

Cross Blackfriars Road then along Ufford Street opposite. Beyond Short Street there is a recreation ground to the right.
The area was built over in the 19th century by Samuel Short. By 1901 the houses needed rebuilding and the then owners, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, decided that part should be set aside as public open space. Lambeth Borough Council agreed and laid out the park which was transferred to them by the Commissioners in 1907. Half the area is a playground and half is grassed with a mahonia hedge and several mature London Plane trees. The playround benefitted from an M&S improvement scheme.

Exit on the far side and go left along Mitre Road then right at Webber Street. Cross to the Emma Cons Garden.
This commemorates the Old Vic Theatre's benefactress. The Old Vic opened in 1818 as the Royal Coburg Theatre and changed to the Victoria Theatre in 1833. In 1879 it was bought by public subscription and given to the Coffee Palace Association which provided musical and variety acts as well as lectures. It was managed by Emma Cons, 'an ardent reformer and legendary impresario' from 1880 until her death in 1912. The site opposite the theatre was bombed in WWII and was derelict until purchased by the LCC and opened as a public garden in 1958, laid out with trees, raised grass plots and seats. The site has lighting provided by the Old Vic and is due for refurbishment in association with Putting Down Roots.

To return to the station go right along Waterloo Road. To continue cross into Baylis Road. Enter Waterloo Millennium Green from here.

Section 2
To access this from the station go right at Waterloo Road. Enter Waterloo Millennium Green from Baylis Road.

This area was once part of the ancient Lambeth Marsh. The park, created on derelict land, was opened in 2001 and is community owned and managed. It has water features [
pix], a wildflower meadow, supervised play area and ball park. Living Space beyond the playground has a cafe and toilets, including disabled. www.waterloogreen.org.uk

Go along Pearman Street alongside the ambulance station (street sign is missing).
Houses along here have roof gardens (private).

Cross Westminster Bridge Road and go along King Edward Walk opposite by Morley College. Cross Lambeth Road into Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park.
The Imperial War Museum occupies the remains of the Bethlem Royal Hospital for the insane which was on the site from 1815. The asylum was built on land known as St George's Fields, a marshy area used for agriculture, fairs, pony races and other entertainments. From 1731 local mineral water was sold from a small public house which had existed since at least 1642. The pub was renamed St George's Spa and by 1758 provided tea rooms, music gallery, ladies' and gentlemen's baths, skittle grounds and a bowling green. It was closed in 1799 having became notorious and rowdy. The area was also used for archery practice and the construction of two Commonwealth forts. The Lodge on Lambeth Road dates from 1837 [
pix] and was built when the road layout in front of the hospital was changed. The ground gained was enclosed and planted to designs of Sidney Smirke. In 1926 when the hospital moved to Beckenham the land and buildings were purchased by Viscount Rothermere, proprietor of the Daily Mail, who presented it to the LCC for use as a public park in memory of his mother, Geraldine Mary Harmsworth. It was opened in 1934 and in 1938 a children's lido was added. In the park is a section of the Berlin Wall and a Soviet War Memorial to the 27 million citizens and service personel who died for Allied victory in WWII. A tree trail created by Trees For London links 34 native trees that colonised Britain after the last ice age. There is a map and information board in the Peace Garden (see below). The park has picnic benches, cafe, a sundial, playground, playroom and sports area. Cafe and toilet facilities are available in the Imperial War Museum (free entry).

To join section 4 go south along Kennington Road. To join section 5 go west along Lambeth Road.

Section 3
To continue walk through the Peace Garden.
In the summer of 1996 Buddhist priests set up a peace camp and created a sand mandala in the park. The permanent Tibetan Garden of Contemplation and Peace was opened by the Dalai Lama in 1999. Around the garden are sculptures representing earth, air, water and fire. The centrepiece is a Buddhist symbol associated with peace and well-being [

Exit by the ranger’s lodge into St Georges Road and go right. Second right through West Square.
In 1791 land here which belonged to the Temple West family was leased to a Mr Hedger and houses were built. When the Bethlehem Royal Hospital relocated, West Square with its central garden housed the senior staff. A tower was erected on number 36 for a shutter telegraph that conveyed messages between Whitehall and naval establishments in Kent [
pix]. By the end of the 19th century the garden was at risk from building development and a campaign was mounted to preserve it as an open space. The freehold was purchased for 3,500 in 1909 by the LCC and Borough of Southwark and the enlarged and restored garden was opened to the public in 1910. Although scheduled under the London Squares Preservation Act of 1931, after WWII there was a proposal to demolish the surrounding buildings and add the area to Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park. The Civic Amenities Act prevented this and the square was designated a conservation area. After WWII prefabs were built in the square and the terraces in the north west corner were demolished, although Charlotte Sharman School built in 1884-5 remains on the north-west side. In the garden are old mulberry trees, rose gardens and a tree planted to celebrate the square’s bicentenary.

Exit on the far side via Austral Street. Cross Brook Drive and go along Sullivan Road opposite continuing through Walcot Square.
Walcot Square was donated to the poor of St Mary’s Lambeth by Edmond Walcott in his will of 1667. According to Dickens, Mr Guppy the solicitor’s clerk from ‘Bleak House’ intends to set himself up professionally in the square. The green is private property.

To join section 5 go right at Kennington Road and west along Lambeth Road

Section 4
To continue go left at Kennington Road. Cross at lights and go right into Fitzalan Street further along.

On the right is Roots & Shoots [
pix]. This charity is devoted to vocational training, environmental education and urban conservation. The former site of garages has a wildlife garden used by local schools and the wider community. There is also a summer meadow, pond, bee hives, apple trees and kiwi vines. Open days with special events are held. www.roots-and-shoots.org/

Cross the park opposite towards the blue chimney
Lambeth Walk Doorstep Green improvements include figures in the tarmac paths [
pix] and a new pergola garden. It has sports areas and an adventure playground.

Exit into Lollard Street and go right. Continue along Old Paradise Street and go left at Newport Street alongside the railway. Go right at Whitgift Street adjacent to arch 138 and enter Lambeth High Street Recreation Ground on the right.
The land was originally granted to the parish by Archbishop Thomas Tenison of Canterbury for a burial ground. The site had been leased to a gardener, and was purchased for 120 in 1703. It was extended in 1816 but after becoming full was closed in 1853. By 1880 it was 'very unsightly' and the vestry decided to turn it into a public garden which was completed in 1884. Gravestones were moved to boundary walls with the mortuary left standing. A watch house erected on High Street for holding 'the drunk and disorderly' in 1825 was originally left but is now gone its site marked with a stone [
pix]. The new garden was conveyed to Lambeth Vestry and then to Lambeth Borough Council. In 1929 it was enlarged when the site of a glass bottle factory in Whitgift Street was purchased for 700. Since the late 1970s the recreation ground has been re-landscaped with grassy mounds, pergolas, shrubs and spring bulbs.

Walk through and exit into Lambeth High Street then go right. Cross Lambeth Road to St Mary’s Garden.
The site was formerly part of the old road which led to the earlier Lambeth Bridge of 1862, replaced in 1932 by a new bridge to the south. This small public garden was laid out by Lambeth Borough Council in 1932-3. The outer area is grassed with shrubs, the central area paved with a pergola, seating and a water feature.

St Mary's Church dates from 1377 and was restored by Philip Hardwick in the 1850s. The Tradescants, who were royal gardeners and introduced many plants to England, are buried here in a hard sandstone tomb with high relief carvings. They established a physic garden in South Lambeth and their collections eventually went to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. The Coade stone sarcophagus of Admiral William Bligh, Captain of 'The Bounty', was erected in 1817. By 1971 the church was redundant and threatened with demolition, and the churchyard unkempt. In 1976 the Tradescant Trust was formed and began to campaign to save the church and churchyard and turn it into a museum for garden history. By 1979 sufficient funds had been raised and the restored gardens, laid out by Lady Salisbury, opened in the early 1980s. The garden has a large climbing musk rose reputedly the largest in the country, old brick paths, a sundial and retained gravestones.
The Garden Museum (admission charge) is open Tuesday - Sunday 10:30-5. Vegetarian cafe, shop and library.

Since the 13th century Lambeth Palace has been the London home of the Archbishops of Canterbury and the building incorporates fabric from that time. The main entrance is through Morton's Gateway to the south-west [pix]. The gardens and park of the medieval palace were 8 hectares but the present gardens are half that size. These were renovated by Archbishop Laing in the 1920s, with the rose terrace built in the 1930s, laid out by Beth Chatto. The gardens were restored again in 1986-88 largely at the instigation of Rosalind Runcie. The woodland was thinned, a pool created and new features added including an Elizabethan-style herb and physic garden, a Palladian temple and pleached lime hedge. There are trees grown from fig cuttings planted in the mid 1550s. A Chinese feature by Faith and Geoff Whiten which featured in the Chelsea Flower Show has been created in the garden. More recently, Archbishop George Carey and his wife concentrated on developing the wildlife potential of the garden with some 300 native trees planted and the pond renovated to encourage diversity. Future plans include developing the old orchard next to the palace and a wildflower meadow. A number of sculptural works in the garden include 'Swallows' and 'Girl with Swallows' by David Norris, and 'Mother and Child' by Lesley Emma Pover. The gardens of Lambeth Palace are open on occasions.

Go east along Lambeth Road and enter Archbishops Park to the left opposite number 109. Join the route here from section 2 or 3.

Section 5
Follow the Millennium Pathway (which has a reddish surface) then continue on the tarmac path to the right.

Archbishop's Park was formerly part of the Bishop of Carlisle's land that was later incorporated into Lambeth Palace Garden. From the late 19th century half the Palace Gardens were granted as a park for local people by Archbishop Tait. The Millennium Pathway celebrates people, places and events that have made Lambeth special between 1000 and 2000. The southern area of the park has been re-landscaped with mixed planting in the dry lakebed area and woodland planting around the edges. There are shelters, a playground [
pix], sports areas, tennis courts and trim trail.

Exit into Lambeth Palace Road by St Thomas’ Hospital and go right. Cross at the lights and go past the large road sign. Just beyond the Florence Nightingale Museum (signposted) go up the ramp and continue ahead along the walkway (towards Houses of Parliament).
St Thomas’ Hospital was moved for the construction of London Bridge Station and was laid out with ‘Nightingale’ wards. The northern end was damaged by WWII bombing and rebuilding carried out. There are two connected gardens to the right. There are steps between them but the lower garden, with a stainless steel fountain of 1929 by Naum Gabo [
pix], can be accessed from the river terrace. ‘Best of Friends’ roses have been planted.

Exit onto Westminster Bridge by rear of County Hall building and cross this road. Wheelchairs should continue along Belvedere Road ahead from where there is ramped access to Jubilee Gardens. Otherwise go left and down steps by the lion to take the Queen’s Walk in front of the former County Hall. Refreshment and toilet facilities are available here.
This was a promenade for the 1951 Festival of Britain and was retained as public open space when the Festival finished. In the centre of County Hall complex is a courtyard with ornamental planting by the Marriott Hotel entrance.
Jubilee Gardens which had been the site of the Dome of Discovery, the main feature of the Festival were designed by Neville Conder and Stuart Taylor and opened by the Queen in 1977. They were closed for 5 years in the 1990s while the Jubilee Line extension was being built and re-turfed prior to permanent new landscaping (completed in 2012). They have a cafe, playground and a memorial to the International Brigade.

Walk across and continue along Belvedere Road to just beyond the railway.
The Whitehouse Garden is private property but the public are admitted from dawn to dusk. There is a water feature but no seating. Access is by steps only.

Go along Concert Hall Approach alongside this then through Sutton Walk to the right. Cross to Waterloo Station. Wheelchair access is available from Station Approach (follow signs).


london-footprints.co.uk 2012

London Parks & Gardens Trust - Inventories for Lambeth & Southwark [

[walks list]