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Regent's College Garden * Westminster


* on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens

Regent's College was formerly occupied by Bedford College, set up in the mid C19th for the higher education of women, which moved to South Villa in Regent's Park in 1908, when new buildings were erected. It continued as such until the 1990s when Regent's College took over the site and mainly runs business courses for foreign nationals. Bedford College had an interesting botany garden, which had included rare specimens, but it was landscaped over when Bedford College left the site. The former botanic garden is being nurtured as a 'secret garden' as part of the landscape work being undertaken in the grounds. The gardens include a sub-tropical rockery by the lake near what may be an old police 'lock-up'; a conservatory garden, open lawns, fine mature trees, and an oriental-themed garden 'room'. Two students from the US who died in the Lockerbie plane crash are commemorated with trees in the gardens.

Basic Details

Previous / Other name:
South Villa; Bedford College

Site location:
Junction of York Bridge/Inner Circle, Regent's Park


Type of site:
Institutional Grounds

C19th; 1908-13


Listed structures:
LBII: North-west Wing of Bedford College; Lodge of demolished South Villa


Site ownership:
Regent's College London

Site management:
Regent's College London

Open to public?

Opening times:
private but open for OGSW, National Gardens Scheme and private visits
Has taken part in Open Garden Squares Weekend 7 times, most recently in 2018.

Special conditions:


Open for National Gardens Scheme and private visits

Public transport:
Tube: Baker Street (Bakerloo, Metropolitan, Hammersmith & City). Bus: 13, 18, 27, 30, 74, 82, 113, 139, 159, 274.


The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/06/2010
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Further Information

Grid ref:

Size in hectares:

Green Flag:

On EH National Register :

EH grade:
Grade I

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:

Conservation Area name:
Regent's Park

Tree Preservation Order:
To be checked

Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Metropolitan Importance

Green Belt:

Metropolitan Open Land:

Special Policy Area:

Other LA designation:

Regent's College Garden *

Regent's University London - Photo: Sarah Jackson

Click photo to enlarge.


Fuller information

Site on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens, for Register Entry for Regent's Park see

Having been a Crown Estate since 1539, the area of Regent's Park was largely farmland by the end of the C18th. Schemes to develop the area as a public park (first named Marylebone Park) were considered from c.1809, and from 1812 until c.1830 John Nash's plan of 1811 (with modifications) was implemented, the public area being opened in 1835 as The Regent's Park (q.v.). The site of Regent's Park is roughly circular, bounded by Prince Albert Road from west to north-north-east, Albany Street to east, Park Square and Park Crescent (q.v.) to south-east, various terraces to south, and by Park Road to south-west. Within this approximate boundary, the Grand Union Canal (laid out 1812-20) runs for 1.75km inside Prince Albert Road, enclosing Outer Circle Road, which extends all the way round the main area of the park. Lesser, inner roads include the Inner Circle, in the south centre of the park, linked to the Outer Circle by York Bridge Road to south, and by Chester Road to east. The Broad Walk runs north-south across the east side of the park, linked with Albert Road, the Outer Circle and Chester Road.

Nash's original plan envisaged the extensive combination of terraced houses and detached villas within a spacious landscaped park. While details of his plan were much modified, the overall conception was, and remains his own. The main landscape feature is the curving lake, with islands, in the south-west quarter of the park. Round the Inner Circle, to the east of the lake, several private villas were built, with their own gardens, including The Holme (or Holme House) and St John's Lodge (q.v.).

Subsequent development has been varied. In 1835 the Royal Botanic Society acquired c.7½ hectares for its buildings and gardens within the Inner Circle and in 1932 this site was taken over for garden development, laid out as Queen Mary's Gardens, with a noted rose garden, and an open air theatre in the north-west. In 1827 the Royal Zoological Society acquired a site in the northern quarter of the park, eventually 14½ha, for the zoological gardens. Decimus Burton designed various buildings, 1826-47. There was continuous development of the surrounding area into the later C20th such as the Central London Mosque, built 1974-82 on the western boundary.

When University College London was founded in 1828 it provided higher education for the first time but only for men. In 1849 a Ladies College was founded by Mrs Elisabeth Reid and opened in Bedford Square (q.v.). In 1908, following a legacy, Bedford College took a lease from the Crown on South Villa in the Inner Circle in Regent's Park and a number of academic buildings were built, including the present Tate Library and laboratories for science, which was an essential part of the College's first programmes, together with the arts and humanities, and teacher training. The north-west wing of Bedford College designed by Basil Champney was built in 1910-13. An Astronomical Observatory was opened by the Astronomer Royal and remains at the college. Although South Villa was demolished its former lodge, built in c.1827 and attributed to Decimus Burton remains at the entrance to the college. Student accommodation was provided in Reid Hall, and sport was popular activity among students, particularly given the nearby park. In 1965 male undergraduates were admitted. In 1984 the Crown lease was taken by Rockford College, Illinois, which opened Regent's College in 1985 primarily to provide a 'study abroad' programme, with courses with a clear British focus, and since then other institutions have also moved onto the campus and Regent's College is now a multi-disciplinary campus community of 7 world-renowned schools. Looking to the future, Regent's College has aspirations to operate these schools as a single university.

Sources consulted:

History on Regent's College website

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