Kensington Roof Gardens

by Kevin P Smith - Date: 2008-10-27 - Word Count: 334 Share This!

The Roof Gardens are an urban oasis in the heart of London with fantastic views. Owned by Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson, the Gardens are only available for private booking for events such as conferences or parties.

Kensington Roof Gardens - now simply called the Roof Gardens - is a roof garden atop the old Derry and Toms building on Kensington High Street. These are the largest roof gardens in Europe, covering 1.5 acres or 6,000 square metres.

Owned by Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson since 1981, The Roof Gardens are an urban oasis in the heart of London which also just happens to have incomparable views of the rest of London.

The gardens can be reached from Derry Street through a door labelled 99 Kensington High Street, and are on the sixth floor of the building, one hundred feet above street level, but the Kensington Roof Gardens are not open to the public, and can only be pre-booked for a private party. At centre of the gardens is a two-storey Clubhouse - the Babylon Restaurant - hosting such events as conferences and private parties.

Originally laid out between 1936 and 1937 by landscape architect Ralph Hancock, as instructed by Trevor Bowen, vice-president of Barkers department store, the then owners of the site and building they had constructed in 1932. The original owners of the building were Charles Derry and his brother-in-law Charles Toms and the building is still known as "Derry and Toms" by locals.

English Heritage listed the Gardens as a Grade II site in 1978. Trees originally planted in the Gardens still grow there although they only have a metre of soil to grow in. The trees were given a tree preservation order in 1976, despite being on a rooftop!

The Roof Gardens has three themed gardens:

-    A Spanish garden, with fountains, vine-covered walkways and Chusan palms;
-    A Tudor style garden, with archways, secret corners and adorned by hanging wisteria, roses, lilies and lavender;
-    An English woodland garden, with more than 100 species of trees, a stream, and a garden pond.

Related Tags: kensington roof gardens, derry and toms, babylon restaurant

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