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Jamyang Buddhist Centre Lambeth


The courtyard garden of the Jamyang Buddhist Centre was originally the prisoners' exercise yard of the Old Kennington Courthouse. Built in 1869 as a police court, and later becoming Lambeth Magistrates Court, this is the last surviving Victorian courthouse in London. The building was in poor repair in 1995 when it was purchased for the Jamyang Buddhist Centre and restored by a large group of volunteers. His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited the Centre in 1999. The courtyard, retaining its Victorian cobblestones, has been transformed into a meditative garden, with a statue of Buddha.

Basic Details

Previous / Other name:
Kennington Courthouse; The Old Courthouse

Site location:
43 Renfrew Road

SE11 4NA ( Google Map)

Type of site:

1869; 1995


Listed structures:
LBII: Kennington Courthouse


Site ownership:
Jamyang Buddhist Centre

Site management:
Jamyang Buddhist Centre; gardener, Anne Swindell (2017)

Open to public?

Opening times:
Mon-Fri 10am - 6pm (& during evening/weekend classes)

Special conditions:

Café, shop

See website for programme.

Public transport:
Tube: Elephant & Castle (Bakerloo, Northern), Kennington (Northern). Bus: 3, 59, 109, 133, 155, 159, 196, 333.

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/01/2018
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Further Information

Grid ref:
TQ316787 (531606,178718)

Size in hectares:

Green Flag:

On EH National Register :

EH grade:

Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:

Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:

In Conservation Area:

Tree Preservation Order:

Nature Conservation Area:

Green Belt:

Metropolitan Open Land:

Special Policy Area:

Other LA designation:

Jamyang Buddhist Centre

Courtyard, garden with sculpture of Buddha, Jamyang Buddhist Centre, June 2016. Photograph Sally Williams

Click photo to enlarge.

Fuller information

Originally a Police Court, the Old Courthouse opened in 1869 and was designed by the Police Surveyor, Thomas Charles Sorby (1836-1924), who also designed two surviving police stations in London, in Clerkenwell and Rochester Row, Westminster. The Old Courthouse had a single court room, two-storey cell block and holding 'tank' where prisoners were held before being taken to the dock. It was later used as Lambeth's Magistrates Court. Opposite to the Courthouse was Kennington Lane Police Station, which closed in 1932 and replaced in 1938 by the Police Section House. This is now part of a group of buildings built in Tudor Gothic revival style that includes a former fire station, infirmary and the workhouse where Charlie Chaplin reputedly stayed.

In 1990, the court was finally closed, after which the building remained empty and fell into disrepair. When it was eventually put up for sale, among those interested was Mother Theresa of Calcutta, who proposed to convert it as a homeless project but this failed to get planning permission. Jamyang Buddhist Centre then put forward a proposal to use the building, as did property developers Headland Weald for conversion into luxury apartments. However, the Victorian Society supported the former project over the residential scheme and on 1 November 1995 the old courthouse was sold by auction to Jamyang Buddhist Centre. Restoration works were undertaken by volunteers and others over the next years. The gated courtyard, which used to be the high security area, was transformed into a secluded meditative garden, with raised beds and pots planted with shrubs, climbers, perennials, herbs, fruit, vegetables, annuals and wildflowers. A stone-carved Parinirvana Buddha statue made by sculptor Nick Durnham has been installed in the garden, with at its base a small fountain set on an old Victorian safe that was found on the site. Flowers provide decoration for the rooms in the Centre and the café offers food made from produce of the garden. The Centre is also committed to bringing community use back into the building, and it is now also used by local health, non-profit and community groups. Jamyang won the August 2010 Conservation Foundation's prize for the best Sacred Space in London, and the courtyard garden took the 'London Green Corners Award - For brightening London and enriching the biodiversity'.

Sources consulted:

History on Jamyang Buddhist Centre website

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