The Temple Garden (part of Victoria Embankment Gardens)

Image: foreground, Temple Garden, back l. International Institute for Strategic Studies, back r. London head office of British American Tobacco.

From Historic England entry:

“The Temple Garden is a rectangular area c 100m long by c 30m wide, currently (1999) enclosed within chain-link fencing largely concealed by shrubberies. The ornamental iron railings which caused the delay to the opening of the Embankment Gardens were removed for scrap during the Second World War. As early as 1895 (OS) the shrubberies had lost their intended serpentine outline and had become curvilinear. The garden is entered from the north-east end by two C20 iron gates, one from Temple Place, the second from the Embankment. Tarmac paths lead from the entrances and converge to the west of an oval shrubbery which provides the backdrop to the bronze statue of John Stuart Mill (economist and philosopher) erected in 1878 (listed grade II). The path continues west through the centre of the site, bordered on either side by lawns with cut beds, passing, to the south, the stone fountain (listed grade II) erected in 1897 as a memorial to the temperance worker Lady Henry Somerset. Behind the fountain is one of the many air vents for the Underground which are concealed in the shrubberies. The path continues and passes around a central rose bed made on the site of the bandstand. Both the design submitted by McKenzie in 1870 and that recorded on the OS 1st edition plan of 1874 show the central area as a rectangle, and the latter records the area marked out by shrubs. The first band concerts were played on the grass alongside the central area, the audience seated on the paths. The midday concerts proved so popular with the workers from the neighbouring printing works that in 1895 the layout was altered to provide space for an octagonal bandstand with an oval viewing area around it. The bandstand area had been enlarged again by 1902 and flower beds were introduced in the adjoining grassed areas (LCC, 1902). The bandstand was removed at the same time as the railings (c 1940) and was replaced with a central flower bed. The path continues west past narrow lawns with cut beds and mature plane trees backed by shrubberies. Some 30m west of the central rose bed the path divides and exits the garden. The north-west path passes, to the north, the bronze memorial statue to William Edward Forster, educationist and MP (1890, listed grade II), before exiting the garden by a C20 gate which leads onto Temple Place. The southern path exits onto the Embankment. A shrubbery at the west end of the garden screens it from Temple Underground station.”

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