The walk starts at West Brompton Underground and Overground station, and ends at Ravenscourt Park Underground station. For a shorter route, it can also be started or finished at Hammersmith Underground station between Sections 1 and 2. The full walk is about four miles long. It could also be done as a cycle ride, though there would be some walking involved.
In addition to four cafés at sites included in the walk, there are plenty of eating places along the route, including a number of riverside pubs just beyond Hammersmith Bridge, as well as several toilets. Apart from a few kerbs, it is step-free. All the gardens are open during daylight hours, unless otherwise indicated. Seating is provided in most gardens, and they are accessible to wheelchairs, except where stated.
Please be aware of your personal safety when walking. Walking in pairs or groups is recommended. Use designated road crossings where possible. A detailed map should be used in conjunction with this walk.
This walk explores some of the lesser-known garden squares, parks, churchyards and cemeteries in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, and takes in part of the Thames Path.
On leaving West Brompton station, cross the road at the pedestrian crossing on the bridge over the railway and turn left. The first site is about 10 minutes' walk away. Alternatively bus 74 or 190, from the station side of the road, can be taken to the first site. Get off at the stop opposite Normand Park, next to two tall Y-shaped blocks of flats, part of the Clem Attlee Estate (1955).
If you choose to walk, look out for Earls Court Exhibition Centre (due for redevelopment) - the old part dates from 1936 and the new part from 1991. Also look out for the Empress State office block of 1962, one of the earliest tall office blocks in London.
If you are walking, you will pass a small garden at West Kensington Estate, which can be entered by a gate at the furthest point from the road. It is an example of the small community gardens that have been laid out on many estates in the borough in recent years.
Cross North End Road by the zebra crossing, passing a pair of mini roundabouts, and continue along Lillie Road until you come to Normand Park. Ignore the path that goes past the bowling green and enter by the gate with the park sign.
The park is named after Normand House, built in 1649, one of many villas in the area. It served as an asylum for people with mental illness, a school and a convent. The house was demolished after being bombed in WW2. The high wall at the back of the park, along Normand Road, is what remains of the old villa garden wall. The park was laid out by the London County Council in 1952, providing valuable open space in an area of dense housing. A regeneration scheme, including new landscaping by Kinnear Landscape Architects, was completed in 2008. There is a leisure centre with café and accessible toilets.
Walk north-east through a gate in the railings, past the children's playground on the left, and through another gate in the old garden wall. Note the mural on the park wall. Turn left into Normand Road, walk along the road and turn left into Queen's Club Gardens.
Queen's Club Gardens were built by W H Gibbs in 1894. As you enter, notice the block on the left named Zenobia and one on the right named Arnold. There are 26 blocks in alphabetical order and three extra blocks in Greyhound Road. The garden in the centre is private, one of very few private squares outside central London, although, later in the walk, we will come across two squares that were once private.
Leave Queen's Club Gardens via the far right (NW) corner (beside Milton Mansions) and walk to Greyhound Road. Cross the road (towards the Colton Arms pub) and turn left, passing the very weathered memorial on the wall of Queen's Club. Look back across the road at the three other blocks of Queen's Club Gardens flats and the look-alike Peabody Trust flats, built for people much less well-off than the residents of Queen's Club Gardens.
Turn right into Field Road, opposite the Tasso Baptist Church, which dates from 1887. At the end of Field Road, enter Margravine Cemetery.
This public garden was originally Hammersmith Cemetery, founded in 1869, where there were 83,197 recorded burials. The cemetery is now closed for burials and the old graves grassed over. The monuments that remain are unsafe, so stick to the paths and do not climb on them.
At the circular flower bed turn left and leave the cemetery via Margavine Road. Turn left and cross at the traffic island, continuing into Claybrook Road. At the end of the road, enter Charing Cross Hospital by the Claybrook Gate.
Walk straight ahead, passing the Mental Health Unit on your right: to the right is first a lawn, with the weather vane of the old Fulham Infirmary, and then a paved area with seating Festival of Britain planters, Turn right across the front of the hospital.
Leave the hospital through the water garden, where the sculpture, Reclining Figure, is by Henry Moore.
Charing Cross Hospital was built from 1969 to 1973 on the site of the old Fulham Infirmary, built in 1884. The hospital has a café, restaurant and accessible toilets. Going past the front of the hospital on a mound to the left near the road is a sculpture by Tappeo Koper. Further on, to the right, there is a garden a storey below the road with another sculpture, Horse and Rider by Robert Clatworthy.
Outside the hospital, turn right along Fulham Palace Road. At the end of the block, on the corner with St Dunstan's Road, is the distinctive Maggie's Centre.
Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres provide practical, emotional and psychological support to anyone living with cancer and their families and friends. Maggie's London Centre was designed by Lord Rogers and the garden was designed by Dan Pearson. The centre opened in April 2008 and was the first of its kind in England.
Retrace your steps to the pedestrian crossing and cross Fulham Palace Road. Turn left and then right down Parfrey Street. The houses on the left-hand side of the street, beginning half way down, are half-houses: they look like full-size houses but there are two front doors in each porch. Some have the original front doors (with coloured glass) and the original tiles in the porch. At the end turn left, past the cycle hire station in Manbre Road, then right into Colwith Road, where you will be facing a block of flats called Thames Reach. Go right and left to pass this and come onto the Thames Path.
Turn right and follow the Thames Path towards Hammersmith Bridge. One day you will no doubt be able to follow the path all the way to the bridge. For the present, you have to turn right just after Fulham Reach Boat Club, then left into Crisp Road, passing Café Plum, and then left to regain the Thames Path.
Continue on the Thames Path to Hammersmith Bridge.Go up the footpath beside the bridge, walk along and under the flyover, and into St Paul's Green.
To end the walk at Hammersmith underground station (District and Piccadilly Lines), cross at the lights opposite the church door and again at the lights leading towards Smollensky's Diner.
On the opposite bank is the old Harrods Furniture Depository, where people working in the colonies would store their furniture until they returned to Britain. It has recently been converted to flats.
Hammersmith Bridge istThe second bridge to stand on the site, it was built by Joseph Bazalgette in 1887, and has been repainted in the original colours.
St Paul's Green was landscaped in 1998, linking the Thames to Hammersmith Broadway via a tree-lined broadwalk. What remains of the walled churchyard around St Paul's Church (1882) has flowering cherries and an old oak.
The baroque front of Smollensky's is the original front of Bradmore House (another villa, like Normand House), which dates from 1709 and was restored in 1993. This wall served as the front wall of the tram depot, later used for buses. The rest of the building is a reconstruction.
To join the walk at Hammersmith underground station, follow signs from the District and Piccadilly line platforms to Talgarth Road. From the ticket barrier, go past the escalator, Tesco Metro on the left , and follow signs to Smollensky's Diner in Bradmore Square. If using the lift, turn left after the ticket barrier and follow signs to Talgarth Road. Turn right at Tesco Metro and follow signs to Smollensky's. Cross the road at the traffic lights to St Paul's Church.
Go across St Paul's Green and under the flyover. Return to the Thames Path via the footpath to the left of Hammersmith Bridge. Go under the bridge and walk along Lower Mall, past several pubs and rowing clubs, to Furnival Gardens.
Furnival Gardens are on a site that was once the mouth of Hammersmith Creek, which had a thriving fishing industry until the early 19th century, and was navigable almost to King Street. The gardens were laid out in 1951 for the Festival of Britain and enlarged in 1957 on a badly bombed area of poor housing and small factories. A low walled garden was created on the former site of Hammersmith Friends' Meeting House burial ground, which was destroyed by a V2 rocket, having only just been restored to its 18th century form.
Continue along the river path to the end of the park. The small drainage tunnel visible over the wall is what is left of Hammersmith Creek, filled in in 1936. Looking inland, the raised bed is all that is left of the floral clock which was outside the original entrance to the 1930s town hall. The town hall is now abandoned as it looks on to the Great West Road, laid across the site in 1956.
Walk towards the Town Hall, and turn left down Dove Passage. After you emerge onto the riverside Upper Mall, Kelmscott House is on the right.
William Morris lived at Kelmscott House for the last 18 years of his life. He wrote: "The situation is certainly the prettiest in London... the garden is really most beautiful".
The gardens have altered in size since Morris's time, though there is rarely an opportunity to view them. The small, shady, lower garden contains a variety of ferns, which thrive well in its micro-climate. The upper walled garden was replanted in 2007 and the largest garden contains a variety of roses, wild strawberries and a wonderful magnolia tree.
The lower floors of Kelmscott House are now the headquarters of the William Morris Society and contain a registered museum dedicated to his life and work. The museum is open on Thursdays and Saturdays 2–5pm, although the gardens are not normally open. The garden opens for Open Garden Squares Weekend.
Continue along the Thames Path. There are many fine houses along the river here, particularly Linden House. Continue under the overhanging building to the Old Ship Pub and Upper Mall Open Space, which occupies part of the site of the West Middlesex Waterworks which was demolished in 1965. Part of the area is set out as an under-5s' play area. The rest is laid as a small lawn with some raised beds planted with shrubs.
At the end, turn right into Black Lion Lane. To the left is Hammersmith Terrace, a fine row of Georgian houses from about 1750. Emery Walker's House is at No. 7.
The former home of Emery Walker at No. 7 Hammersmith Terrace survives as a complete Arts and Crafts interior. There is a small garden at the back. House and garden open by appointment only (020 8741 4104). The garden also opens for Open Garden Squares Weekend.
Continue along Black Lion Lane. At the end of the road, cross the A4 by the foot tunnel (to the left), emerging into a small park.
This small remnant of land, left over from the construction of the Great West Road, was landscaped in the 1960s. The sculpture, The Leaning Woman, by Karel Vogel (1959) is known locally as 'the Dancing Lady'. St Peter's Church, built in 1827 by Edward Lapidge, is on the right.
Turn left into St Peter's Square.
St Peter's Square was laid out in about 1825, and was originally a private square. In 1912, the square was threatened by building development, but was saved when the land was bought by Hammersmith Borough Council in 1915 to make a public park. The statue is The Greek Runner (1879), by Sir William Blake Richmond. The houses are a good example of 19th-century squares architecture, with paired villas in classical style arranged around a central space. The square today is maintained to a high standard by residents, in partnership with Hammersmith & Fulham Council.
Leave the square by the far right (NW) corner. Cross King Street at the traffic lights. Note Young's Corner (now the Artisan coffee bar) opposite, the most eccentric building in the borough. Turn right along King Street and take the first left into Westcroft Square, opposite The Hart, a fine brick and terracotta building.
Westcroft Square dates from 1878. Like St Peter's Square, this square was threatened by building development in 1927 . The owners of property in the square bought up the land and gave it to the Council as a park in 1929. The Metropolitan Public Gardens Association gave money in the 1990s to refurbish it.
Leave the square by the far right (NE) corner, turning right into Hamlet Gardens. At the end turn left, go under the railway bridge and continue past the former Ravenscourt Park Hospital on the left.
Originally known as the Royal Masonic Hospital, the building was designed by Sir John Burnett, Tait & Lorne in 1931. The hospital has a fine Art Déco interior and a well-kept 1930s garden. Lawns, mature trees and shrubs, flowers, and a long central water feature with fountain, are overlooked by semi-circular, 'ocean liner' balconies.
We very much regret that the hospital has closed. The future of its garden is still uncertain.
After passing the hospital enter Ravenscourt Park through the gate at the end of the road.
Bear right and walk along the path at the bottom of the lake. Where the path divides, take the right fork towards the stable block, which has a café and accessible toilets. The greenhouses which take part in Open Garden Squares Weekend are just behind it to the right. Looking half left, there is a white building, once an entrance lodge and now a private house. The slight rise in land level before it is the site of Ravenscourt House, bombed in 1941.
Facing the stable block, take the path to the left to the Walled Garden, which has 18th-century iron gates.
The park is on an ancient site, originally called Palingswick Manor. Alice Perrers, Edward II's mistress, lived here in the 14th century. A new manor house was built in 1650 and sold in 1747 to Thomas Corbett, who changed the name to Ravenscourt (a pun on his name - corbeau is French for 'raven'). In 1812 the manor was owned by George Scott, the builder who developed St Peter's Square, and the garden laid out by leading landscaper Humphry Repton. The house and 30 acres were bought by the Metropolitan Board of Works in 1887, and laid out by JJ Sexby as a park, which opened to the public in 1888. There are many remnants of older planting throughout the park, including plane and cedar.
The walled garden, which in summer is full of climbing roses and colourful perennials in a formal circular layout, is tended by a group of volunteers, in partnership with the park staff.
On leaving the walled garden there is a choice of routes. Turn right towards a children's play area (to the right is a nature conservation area). The path past the play area leads to a gate on to Goldhawk Road. Use the zebra crossing to the bus stop for Shepherds Bush. Next to the bus stop is Starch Green.
Alternatively, return to the stable block and continue along the avenue of flowering cherries, which replaced the great 18th-century avenue of elm and chestnut. The well-stocked Ginkgo Garden Centre is located under the arches of the railway bridge. Either go under the bridge and out to King Street for buses to Hammersmith Broadway or turn left just before the railway and take the path to Ravenscourt Park Station.
Starch Green is so called because it was once an open space used to dry laundry. It was originally a flooded brick pit, which was filled in. It was used as a turning point for trams and trolleybuses, but in recent years has been pedestrianised.
Walk prepared by John Goodier for the London Parks & Gardens Trust, 2006. Revised by Colin Wing in January 2015, incorporating suggestions by Richard Lemon.
Much of the historical information above comes from the London Parks & Gardens Trust's London Inventory of Historic Green Spaces, a database of over 2,500 sites.
All due care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of information in this walk, which is offered in good faith. Please advise us of any changes or inaccuracies you may encounter by writing to LPGT, Duck Island Cottage, St James's Park, London SW1A 2BJ, or email us.