London Curiosities: The extraordinary prohibitions of Brown Hart Gardens

The site of Brown Hart Gardens was established as green space in 1889, when it was known as Duke Street Gardens, for the enjoyment of local residents. However, the gardens were only open for 14 years as in 1903, the area was leased to Westminster Electricity Supply Company so they could build a substation. Understandably, the residents were very upset to lose this beautiful space so, as compensation, a new park was built on top of the substation. It opened in 1906 and was named Brown Hart Gardens.

The Gardens, which form part of the 300 year old Grosvenor Estate, were permitted to create their own byelaws which remain to this day. There are some curious prohibitions, which include “games, brawling, fighting, quarrelling, betting, playing with cards or dice, shouting, singing, and the practice of gymnastics.”. Anyone who dares to breach these rules can face prosecution.

What about the substation? The structure, designed by Sir Stanley Peach (famed for designing Wimbledon’s Centre Court), is still in use and serves much of the West End.

We highly recommend you visit this exceptionally unusual, historic and very beautiful space. It’s just a 14 minute walk from here, which takes you through the heart of Mayfair.

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