Welcome to Brownhart Gardens
Brown Hart Gardens is situated behind Oxford Street, just off Duke Street, and is a quiet, raised paved terrace space.
It is a pleasant and calm place to spend a lunch hour or afternoon away from the hectic hustle and bustle of the nearby parallel shopping street. Oxford Street is known as Europe’s most dense and busiest shopping street and Brown Hart Gardens provides the perfect contrast to escape the crowds.
The site sometimes holds public events within the space including open-air theatre and classical concerts, and local children’s fundays. These events are organised and advertised through the area’s major landowner Grosvenor.
The history of the site is very interesting and stems back to the late 1880s when Duke Street, an already thriving trading street, was extended to the west with the development of the Stalbridge, Balderton, and Chesham Buildings. As part of these developments the Duke of Westminster requested that both a coffee tavern and a public garden be included. The former was never realised, but space was cleared between Brown Street and Hart Street to create a communal garden at ground level. The gardens were originally called Duke Street Gardens, they were designed by Joseph Meston, and constructed in 1889 for the residents of the new flats. The gardens at this time had a simple structure and consisted of a shelter at the centre, a urinal at the western end, a drinking fountain to the east and included tree planting.
However, just 14 years later, in 1903, the original gardens were closed when the second Duke of Westminster leased the land to the Westminster Electricity Supply Co. to build a sub-station. Despite various complaints about the former gardens attracting 'disorderly boys', 'verminous women' and 'tramps', the local residents were far from impressed with the idea of loosing the trees and amenity space. In a response to residents complaints the sub-station scheme proposed to reinstate the communal garden above a chamber for transformers and include trees in planters. The new Duke Street Garden was opened on 16 June 1906 by the Mayor of Westminster, Lord Cheylesmore.
The substation building that was created remains the base of the open space today is rather ornate, constructed from Portland Stone, it consists of a domed pavilion with steps leading up to the open space at both ends of the site. The Baroque style of the structure is accentuated by a series of Diocletian windows running along the two sides that allow light into the galleries of the engine rooms below, and the stone balustrade above at the garden level.
As the space falls within The Grosvenor Estate, the park has a unique set of byelaws, some of which are rather interesting and give an indication of how the space might have been when first created. It states for example that ‘no idle or disorderly person is allowed in the garden’; ‘No bath chair or perambulator or vehicle of any kind is admitted’; and that ‘brawling, quarrelling, gambling, playing cards or dice, singing, and practicing gymnastics’ are all prohibited within the gardens.
A website specific to the site can be viewed at: www.brownhartgardens.co.uk
If you want to hold an event or film in this park, please note that it is not managed by Westminster City Council and you will need to contact the relevant landowner directly for permission.