Hidden London: The Roof Gardens


How could I have missed this out? Mainly because although I used to go there every Sunday night for years when it was cheap and fun, it was subsequently taken over by Richard Branson and adopted such a complicated and pricey door policy that it fell off my radar. Located one hundred feet above Kensington High Street, The Roof Gardens used to be on the top of Derry and Tom’s department store, which opened in 1933. Unlike other roof gardens, this has had decades to grow in and feel entirely separate from the world below. There are three themed gardens with over 70 full size trees, a flowing stream stocked with fish and the resident flamingoes Bill, Ben, Splosh and Pecks.

The Roof Gardens employs over 100 staff. The entire floor below is needed for soil to keep the trees rooted. I’ve been here at Christmas when they’ve wheeled the grand piano on the snowy lawn for carols, but now getting in is a typically complex London affair; on some nights it’s a private club, on others a restaurant, a bar or closed for private events, so it’s no longer a place where you can just drop in. However, with a little perseverance (and a fat wallet) you can be in the country above the centre of the city. Click on each picture for a panoramic view.

2 comments on “Hidden London: The Roof Gardens”

  1. Alan Morgan says:

    The roof gardens of Derry & Toms! Much featured in Michael Moorcock whereby it seemed you could hardly visit without Jerry Cornelius brushing by. Derry & Toms is also one of those handy places, a store no longer with us that’s useful to denote a time or the age of a given article. I’ve used it in passing for a Black Static piece I’m working up, yet now fear it’s been here, and so sort of claimed. Aho.

    It’s quite hard to mention interesting London things given you’ve probably got them somewhere first. A bit like that South Park episode whereby the villain has to keep rejecting his evil master plans as each is pointed out as having been in the Simpsons first ;0)

    Mind, there’s probably a story in that too…

    Top blog post, Mr. F.

  2. Hugh says:

    Fantastic surprise after visiting Kensington Palace, London really has some fantastic surprises if you know where to look. The three themed gardens were quite different after a walk around Kensington Park, nice afternoon out.

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