Durand Gardens

An Overview…

Despite Durand Gardens being one of the most sought after and well preserved areas within the boundaries of this website there is very little to be found about the history of this funny shaped enclave.  The most comprehensive overview is found over at London Gardens Online and since it contains more information than I’ve been able to find by knitting together separate sources I think it best to use their guide rather than attempt my own.

London Gardens Online is to thank (and holds all copyright) for the following overview:

Stockwell was one of the earliest hamlets established in the area and was located around Stockwell Green. The name derives from the woodlands (‘stocks’) and natural springs (‘wells’), which undoubtedly contributed to the establishment of a settlement here. A Manor at Stockwell was granted a charter in the C13th and the eastern boundary of the manorial lands was probably between Durand Gardens and Stockwell Park Road. Much of the area remained farmland until its early-mid C19th development although wealthy merchants had began to build villas here in the C18th. The grand town houses of Durand Gardens were built gradually from 1840 onwards and represent a range of buildings, including terraces, semi-detached and detached houses. Originally called The Grove, it was renamed Durand Gardens in 1893 after Sir Mortimer Durand who established the dividing line between India and Afghanistan that year. The earlier houses exhibit Neo-Classical detailing, with those of the 1890s and later influenced by Queen Anne style and Arts and Crafts. The land was part of the estate owned by the Darby family, who were descended from Abraham Darby (1678-1717), the pioneering ironfounder who first used coke to fuel his Coalbrookdale Furnace in Shropshire in 1709, one of the innovations that contributed to the Industrial Revolution.

The houses overlook the central garden, which was laid out by the Darby Estate for the use of residents of the surrounding houses, the Darby family retaining ownership. It is an irregular-shaped site possibly as a result of being a plague pit in 1665. The Stamford Map of 1868 shows the houses of The Grove surrounding a well laid out garden with areas of grass, meandering paths, shrubs beds and trees and a pond in the south east corner. In 1928 the owner of the garden was Mrs F M Cope Darby and the residents of the surrounding houses paid a garden rate for its maintenance. At that time it was described as ‘laid out as an ornamental garden with shrubberies and some well-grown trees’. The garden’s iron railings were removed as part of the war effort in WWII and after the war the garden became neglected, the Darby Estate having ceased to be the ground landlord.

In the mid 1960s the garden was acquired by Mr Pat Bedford who lived at No. 17 Durand Gardens and access by other residents ceased. An antiques dealer, he used the garden to exercise his guard dogs. In 1968 his sister-in-law Zdenka Korincova became his housekeeper and took on responsibility for the gardens until 1985, allegedly with the help of a large goat.

Number 17 Durand Gardens

In the late 1980s when No. 17 came up for sale it included sole rights to the garden, which was then challenged by other residents of Durand Gardens. As a result the estate agent, Stephen Morgan, purchased the garden in order to sell the house separately. He planned to establish a sports club with swimming pool on the site, but this was prohibited due to the garden’s listing under the London Squares Preservation Act 1931. Morgan then became bankrupt and the Durand Gardens Association was able to purchase the site for £5,000.

 Shortly after acquiring the garden, the Association replaced the iron railings at a cost of c.£7,700 and it has continued to look after the gardens, including creating a path system based on the original mid C19th layout. The garden is now maintained as a woodland garden and there are numerous mature trees including lime, probably once pleached to create a hedge in Victorian times, silver birch, horse-chestnut, pedunculate oak, tree-of-heaven, and a fine black walnut tree near the garden’s entrance. A dip in the ground may have been due to a WWII Anderson Shelter here. In the spring there area fine displays of bluebells and daffodils, and there are plans to introduce native species that attract butterflies and birds.

Durand Gardens On Maps…

1809

The map above is “Laurie and Whittle New Map of London with its Environs, almost all of the streets that we know so well had not yet been built including Durand Gardens, the area was mostly open countryside.

1837

“Cary’s New Plan Of London And Its Vicinity” shows the area another twenty eight years later in 1837, although many streets to the north have popped up Durand Gardens is still a large open space.

1844

Durand Gardens is still not visible on Laurie’s Map of London 1844. There is something labelled ‘The Retreat’ presumably a countryside place of relaxation, possibly the same location or very close to this rural lodge.

1850

“1850. Cross’s New Plan Of London 1850″ shows The Grove (as Durand Gardens was originally known) suddenly spring into life taking the shape that we recognise today.

1861

This is Cross’s New Plan of London 1861. It shows the same crudely drawn The Grove as on the previous Cross’s New Plan of London eleven years earlier.

1876

The map above is a Lambeth Ward Map from 1876 showing the division between the Vauxhall Ward (light blue) and the North Brixton Ward (pink) Durand Gardens is labelled as The Grove.

1898

Charles Booth’s Map of London Poverty research took him to Durand Gardens in 1895. The Map above is from 1898 and shows how Booth graded Durand Gardens. The key to what the colours mean can be seen to the right of the image. For more information on Charles Booth and the classification of poverty see here.

1918

Durand Gardens can be seen here on this 1918 Ward Map. It is remarkable to note how much the area has built up over the years, especially when scrolling up to the 1809 map when this entire space was empty.

1945

 

 

 

 

 

 

In September 1940 the government started to collect and collate information relating to damage sustained during bombing raids. Durand Gardens emerged relatively unscathed in comparison to surrounding areas however it did take quite a few hits as you can see above. I will post more about Durand Gardens in the wars over on ‘Our streets at war – A street by street guide’ shortly.

Durand Gardens in photographs…

1914

2012

Listed Buildings…

Nos 24 and 26 Durand Gardens are grade II listed, details are as follows:

Circa 1840 tall pair, each 3 storeys and basement, 2 windows in main block; set back 2-storey entrance bay. Stucco with incised lines and rusticated quoins. Enriched cornice below bracketed eaves soffit of hipped slate roof with central chimney wall. Sash windows with glazing bars in moulded architraves, console bracketed cornices on ground floor. Projecting mutuled cornice at first floor cill level. Entrances up 6 steps. No 24 has door and fanlight of circa 1900 in rusticated panel framed in Doric order; blank wall above and a narrow right addition. Similar treatment to 4-panel door of No 26 but modern window inserted.

Nos 25 and 31 Durand Gardens are grade II listed, details are as follows:

Mid C19 pairs, each house 2 storeys and basement, 2 windows. Stock brick. Pilasters with stuccoed capitals define wider inner bay. Hipped slated roof with eaves soffit and central chimney wall. Stuccoed basement. Eared moulded architraves to first floor windows; architraves, with console bracketed cornices, and patterned cast iron guards, to ground floor windows. All double hung sashes, Nos 27 and 29 with margin lights, No 31 with vertical bars. Seven steps to half-glazed 4-panel doors set back behind stuccoed entablature surrounds.

 Nos 28 and 30 Durand Gardens are grade II listed, details are as follows:

Mid C19 villas, each 2 storeys and basement, 3 windows. Stock brick, stucco frieze, cornice with paired brackets, blocking course. Slated. roof with end chimneys. Sash windows, No 28 with glazing bars, No 30 with margin lights, in moulded architraves with bracketed cills; console bracketed cornices on ground floor. Seven steps to half-glazed 4-panel doors set back behind classical surround with round-arched opening.

Nos 33 and 35 Durand Gardens are grade II listed, details are as follows:

Mid C19 pair. Each house had a separate block of 2 storeys and basement, 2 windows, linked by one-storey paired entrances. Stock brick. Slated roof with deep eaves soffit. Moulded architraves with cornices to first floor sash windows with glazing bars. Ground floor windows have pilasters and entablature, projecting cills and cast iron guards. Inner ground floor rounded bow with cornice holds 2 windows, stuccoed basement. Seven steps to door of 2 fancy panels well set back behind classical porch with round-arched entrance.

8 Responses to Durand Gardens

  1. Dee Thomas says:

    I have found your site fascinating. My father bought 21 Durand Gardens in 1948/49 for the sum of £3250. It was our family home until 1967. He died in 1965 and my mother remarried in 1967 and the property was then sold. I remember that there were pillars at the Clapham Road entrance but note they are now gone. There was bomb damage at this entrance on the left as you entered and as children we played on the bomb site and called it the broken garden. When as a young child we moved into the house there was a well in the garden which my parents had filled in for safety reasons. Freemans backed onto the garden and and it was onky when Freemans extended their building that we were overlooked. We did’nt really use the garden in the centre and remember the residents of no 17 as being quite eccentric. Have great childhood memories of Durand Gardens. There was a small general food stores in what I think was Liberty Street and also a sweet shop further on. Early 1950’s there were pre fabs which were still there when I left in about 1964 which I think were in Liberty Street too.. As I was growing up there quite a few interesting characters and some amusing incidents. Wish I could afford to live there now. Keep up the research you are doing a great job.

  2. Zoe Benouali says:

    Yes, a great website, thank you! And very interesting about the pillars at the Clapham Road entrance and the bomb site.
    My family moved there when I was 3 in 1974 and my Mum still lives there. I remember Zdenka well. She found the goat in the middle garden, tethered to the fence. Rumour had it that somebody had left it there to graze and fatten, to cook later! Zdenka adopted it and used to take it home on a lead. I remember the Silver Jubilee street party really well. The whole side of numbers 28-36 was closed for a massive table which seated us all. There used to be musician, Sam, who lived there. He played the piano and we partied all day. We did that for Prince Charles and Diana’s wedding too.
    We used to play out on that side of the gardens all day in the summer and never had to worry about cars, I suppose in those days there weren’t as many. Happy Days!

    Thanks for all the information, fascinating stuff.

  3. Peter Garwood says:

    I was very interested to read about the experiences of the former residents of Durand Gardens I lived in nearby Hillyard Street when I was a child from 1949 to 1960, I do not have any nostalgic memories of that street and used to play on what was called the bombsite next to the block of flats where I lived and always wished I could live in the country where I have lived now for over thirty years.
    The only I place I did like near Hillyard Street was Durand Gardens as the big round garden in the middle reminded me of the countryside and I used play there with my friends as often as I could and used to wish I could live there instead of Hillyard Street

  4. Peter Garwood says:

    I was very interested to read about the former residents of Durand Gardens, I lived in nearby Hillyard Street when I was a child from 1949 to 1960. I do not have any nostalgic memories of that street and used to play on what was called the bombsiite next to the flats where I lived and always wished I could live in the country where I have now lived for over thirty years.
    The only place I did like near Hillyard Street was Durand Gardens as the big round garden in the middle reminded me of the countryside and I used to play there with my friends as often as I could and wished I could live there instead of Hillyard Street.

  5. Mike Mallett says:

    No 12 was previously Enmore, The Grove and the home of Robert Mallet, engineer and scientist best known as the father of modern seismology. He died in 1881.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Mallet

  6. wanda page says:

    I was very pleased to find this site, I myself grew up in Durand gardens as a child. I lived at no 45 until 1978 then at no 44 with a friend from 1981-83. I have the most wonderful memories of growing up as a kid, racing around the green on our bikes. We all knew Zdenka very well, but she would never allow us in the gardens. She did invite all us kids to garden parties at their home however. I’m so glad to read the residents are now in charge or the upkeep, I took a little detour last summer through Durand gardens to show my children where I grew up, it was school holidays and sadly there was not a kid to be seen, but I must say it looked as beautiful as it always did

  7. George Smith says:

    I was wondering if anybody remembered ’24 Hour Breakdown Service’ that operated from Durand Gardens in the late sixties. Huge big ex military trucks everywhere, brightly logo’d. Must have been a local resident nightmare! As I remember the actual house was on a corner, or turn. There was access to the rear garden. I think the owner was ‘Max’ and possible surname of Chapman. He didn’t like me as I liked his daughter ‘Tandy’. She often drove me down to her Horse, stabled near Lock’s Bottom in Kent, in a pinkish-white convertible Morris Minor with gaudy red roof. Sometimes with two bales of hay on the back seat.

  8. Thank you. Such a joy to find this informative site and great comments. Our Ealing Walking, Talking and Exploring Group have been invited to visit your area on 26/11/2016 and I’m doing a bit of research so this is truly helpful. I used to commute to work to your area a few years back, but haven’t been there recently. Would love to know if our small group would be allowed to see the garden. Warm regards, Joanna

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