I wouldn’t normally alert you about something so far in advance, but as these walking tours are free they are booking up very fast.
The garden squares are not open to the general public, so it really is a rare opportunity to explore and enjoy these hidden green spaces – so these garden walks are very highly recommended indeed.
Garden Walk: Chester Square
FULLY BOOKED – I only included this to ram home the point that if you would like to go on one of the other walks you need to book up well in advance.
Garden Walk: Eaton Square
The walk will be centred upon Eaton Square’s Fountain Garden. Managed by Grosvenor since its creation in the 1820′s a significant period for this particular garden is that of the Second World War. A cannon shell from a German aircraft was found embedded in tree limbs during pruning work as recently as the 1970s. Walkers will learn about Belgravia and this famous square’s history as well as the garden and the several species of trees that have been cultivated here.
Thursday 5 May (ONLY A FEW PLACES LEFT) 12pm to 1pm
Garden Walk: Eccleston Square
This extended 75 minute walk will start with a brief history of Victoria whilst making your way to Eccleston Square. The tour will demonstrate how over the years more and more tender trees and shrubs have become viable in our changing environment within the City micro climate.
The garden now has the largest collection of Californian Lilacs (Ceanothus) in the world. There are also a substantial number of plants that originate from Australasia. The garden has won awards continuously over the last ten years and has the distinction of being the only garden square that has made it into the National Garden Scheme.
Wednesday 25 May & Thursday 26 May Extended walk 12.00pm to 1.15pm on both days
Victoria’s Hidden Past
Nothing is quite what it seems: the Bluecoat School was built in 1709 and was in use until 1926. The building of this charitable school was funded by a brewer, who also used the school as a storage place for beer. It is now a National Trust gift shop. Another seemingly contradictory story involves Caxton Hall, a meeting place for the suffragette movement, which became renowned for celebrity marriages. There is a burial ground where the first black man to get the vote in Westminster is buried.
You can also browse round the modern day store, which supplied the needs of the British Empire; find mansions that housed the mistresses of the military; imagine the Church turning a prison into a cathedral and up market accommodation and learn about a prisoner who was not actually kept locked up in a prison. You will also find out about current and future development opportunities for Victoria and much more.
Wednesday 1 June, 6 July, 3 August 12pm to 1pm
Belgravia & Victoria
Right in the heart of Victoria between the boundary wall of Buckingham Palace and Lower Grosvenor Gardens is the little known Victoria Square with a connection to Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond and a statue of the young Queen Victoria. As the walking route takes you into Belgravia you will be amongst larger squares with fine houses inhabited by the wealthy and well-heeled celebrities, past and present.
It is an area originally developed and built by the Grosvenor family and designed by architects like Thomas Cubitt. It is made up of elegant terraces divided by fine squares, many of them with private gardens at their centre. Many of the terraces have smaller mews houses behind them. The Grosvenor Estate is still very much involved in the area’s management and continual improvement today. It has become the location for many foreign embassies and consuls, encompassing some of the most desirable addresses in the UK, like Eaton Square and Belgrave Square.
Wednesday 8 June, 20 July, 10 August 12pm to 1pm
In one of the side streets adjacent to Westminster Cathedral lived Sir Winston Churchill and a Cardinal. Beneath the paving runs the hidden King’s Scholars’ Pond Sewer winding its way to the Thames. Close by on the west side of Vauxhall Bridge Road is the recently revived Tachbrook Street Market with its fresh produce and food stalls and Warwick Way with a traditional high street smattering of neighbourhood restaurants, cafés and charity shops.
Wednesday 15 June, 27 July, 17 August 12pm to 1pm
Palaces of Power
Victoria has an important role in the direction of national politics by virtue of its proximity to the Palace of Westminster and the seat of British government. It is also a place of entertainment. The walk will start with the first of our Palaces, the Victoria Palace where we will learn about its association with Ballerina, Anna Pavlova. We will also learn more about the architecture of Buckingham Palace and talk about the builder of one of the wings, whose present day ancestor is due to occupy the Palace. Emphasis will then swap as we stroll to the Palace of Westminster, looking as we go at the fascinating involvement of the suffragettes and how they shaped twentieth century politics.
Thursday 7 July and 4 August 5.30pm to 7.00pm
Rich and Poor
The walk will follow a route through the centre of Victoria to the far side of Pimlico, via Belgravia. We will look at the homes of the rich and famous in Eaton and Chester Square. We will visit where Mozart lived for a short period, where Chopin gave a famous recital. We will be visiting a house that featured in Upstairs, Downstairs, the classic TV series. Towards the end of the walk by contrast, we will see housing for the industrious poor and the delights of Orange Square. The walk will finish near to Sloane Square tube station.
Thursday 21 July and 11 August 5.30pm to 7.00pm
To book a free walking tour call inSW1 on 020 3004 0786 or email NICKI PALMER
For full details of these tours and to enlarge the map please click on it (takes you to the inSW1 website).