Places to Go smaller logo Plaque of Creator Trevor A Bowen.

Kensington Roof Gardens
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The thumbnails below are linked to larger pictures

Formal Spanish Garden Spanish veranda A hot corner of the Spanish Garden

Trevor Bowen chairman of the John Barker company, owners of Derry and Toms department store in Kensington High Street, was so impressed by the roof gardens on the eleventh floor of the Rockefeller Centre in NYC, that he commissioned their designer Ralph Hancock to build similar gardens above Derry and Toms in Kensington.

Virgins Babylon RestaurantThe gardens were set on a thick bitumastic base with hardcore and a 36 inch layer of topsoil. The gardens were completed in 1938 at a cost on £25.000 and were officially opened by the Earl of Athlone. Following a checkered history, the gardens were purchased in 1986 by Richard Branson's Virgin Group and form part of the Babylon restaurant and night club, they have since been awarded Grade II listing by English Heritage. The Gardens have recently been refurbished and restored to as they looked in 1938.

The 1.5 acre gardens are divide into three disitnct areas: Traditional English wth a wild woodland theme, Formal Spanish and Tudor. The Traditional English garden contains over 100 trees, streams and pond, flamingos and ducks, which combine to create a magical environment that defies its unique elevation. This is contrasted by the formal layout of the Spanish Garden with its fountains, vines and palm trees, and red terracotta buildings.

This really is one of Londons secret treasures and worth the effort of a phone call to confirm a visit, which at the time of writing is completely free. Perhaps even stay for the evening when the gardens transform into part of an exclusive restaurant and clubbing venue at 99 Kensington High Street.
*Link to official site for viewing Visitor Information*
Traditional English Garden river Bridge in the English Garden The Tudor Garden