The Landscape Guide

Emslie Horniman's Pleasance

Emslie John Horniman was the grandson of a wealthy tea- importer. In 1913 he wrote that "Recently I have been able to secure nearly one acre of land, which I consider suitable to lay out as a public garden, with sand-pit, etc., and, having now completed the purchase, I have much pleasure in offering the same to your council, and am ready to make over the freehold, the only condition being that the land be dedicated in perpetuity to the people of London as a recreation-ground. I propose to clear the land and lay out same at my own expense.." She had studied at the Slade school of art and asked the architect Charles Voysey to design a garden. The planting was by the author of a book on Garden design, Madeleine Agar. It had an enclosing wall, an oak pergola, a pool and herbaceous planting. Voysey outlined his design aims: 'with the idea of securing brightness, the new boundary fence walls and shelters are built of brick, roughcast in cement and to be kept lime-washed in white. They thus form a good background for the flowers, which are arranged on an oak pergola, flanking the oak bridge and all around the waterway, the latter being provided with clay holes for the water plants'. The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea received a grant to restore the garden and modernise the park in 1996. The design team was: Art2Architecture + StudioE + EDAW + KaraTaylor + Julian Harap Architects. After restoration the flower garden suffered from vandalism. This problem was intelligently managed by keeping the gates locked. It can still be seen - the photograph was taken through a viewing grill - and is open when volunteers can be found. A garden club should be fostered and the space managed as a community garden (see Calthorp Project). There is no need for the maintenance to be done by paid council gardeners.


HOMEPAGE - Landscape Architecture London List

The garden by Charles Voysey and Madeline Agar.

The playground by EDAW