A garden above all others - Kensington Roof Gardens

Stately Home & Garden

A garden above all others - Kensington Roof Gardens

Kensington Roof Gardens is a private roof garden in London covering an incredible 65,000 sq ft on top of the former Derry & Toms building on Kensington High Street. 

Derry and Toms new Art Deco department store opened in 1933. The gardens were laid out between 1936 and 1938 by Ralph Hancock, a landscape architect who had just created the "Gardens of the Nations" on the 11th floor of the RCA Building in New York.

The gardens cost £25,000 to create and visitors were charged 1 shilling to enter. Money raised was donated to local hospitals and £120,000 was raised during the next 30 years.

With the closure of the Derry and Toms department store in 1973, the garden changed hands several times, becoming a night club and later a restaurant. The gardens closed to the public in 2018 but plans seem to be afoot to re-open them soon.

The garden has ponds, bridges, walks, trees, shrubs and sitting areas - as well as ducks and four flamingos. There is an English Woodland Garden with nearly 100 species of tree (including an 80-year-old black mulberry), Spanish Garden with fountains and Walled Tudor Garden.

Further reading

Originally opened in 1938, the gardens were open to the public until January 2018 when the leaseholder, Virgin Limited Edition, was unable to reach an agreement with the freeholder about renewal of the lease.[

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