Brown Hart Gardens

London, England

Idle, disorderly and verminous persons beware: enter Brown Hart Gardens at your risk. And don't even think about practicing gymnastics!

First built in 1889, Brown Hart Gardens was an instant disaster. Local residents claimed that it attracted ‘disorderly boys’ and ‘verminous women’. Not a good look.

Brown Hart Gardens, London - 3
- © Chris.Basilio

Brown Hart... Substation?

In 1903, the land was leased to the Westminster Electricity Supply Company to build a sub-station on. Did this please the locals? Well, let's just say it didn't take them long to start demanding their park back.

Because of this, a compromise had to be reached. The Supply Company would build their sub-station, and then a new park would be put on top: the Brown Hart Gardens of today. Unfortunately, the hole dug for the sub-station was too small, causing the building to protrude above ground.

Brown Hart Gardens, London - 11
- © Chris.Basilio

What's A Public Park Without A Few Restrictions?

As a result, Brown Hart Gardens are a unique affair. Located on the roof of this not-quite-sub-station, they feature a 50-seater café, a water feature designed by Andrew Ewing and a rather unusual set of by-laws. Due to being part of the Grosvenor Estate, its rules state that 'no idle or disorderly person or person in an intoxicated, unclean or verminous condition is allowed in the garden', and also that 'games, quarrelling, shouting, singing and the practice of gymnastics' are prohibited on penalty of prosecution.

Enjoy, but do it quietly.

Brown Hart Gardens, London - 6
- © Chris.Basilio

Taking Multi-Pupose To The Next Level

Beneath the Gardens, the sub-station is still used today. Its trio of 60-megavolt-amp transformers are connected to Carnaby Street by tunnel and continue to power much of the West End.

One more thing...

To the West of the Gardens, just across the road, is the stunning Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family in Exile.

Brown Hart Gardens, London - 16
- © Chris.Basilio

Interested in finding more places like this? Try one of our Treasure Hunts in London - untangle cryptic clues as a team, as you are taken on a journey to the most unique, unusual and bizarre corners of London.

Looking for things to do in Mayfair? Check out our article on the top things to do in Mayfair for more suggestions.

Or read more about London's strange and fascinating gardens in our posts on Highgate Cemetery, Mount Street Gardens, Barbican Conservatory and Chelsea Physic Garden.


What you need to know

Brown Hart Gardens
Brown Hart Gardens, London, UK
Tips before you visit

Café opening hours:

Mon-Sun: 8am-5pm

Sat: 9am-5pm

Sun: 10am-5pm


Nearby places