Welcome to Victoria Tower Gardens
Nestled between the sweeping River Thames and the spectacular Houses of Parliament, this park is a little pocket of peace at the heart of political power.
The theme of freedom is woven through this tranquil green space in the form of memorials commemorating some of the most important political movements in British History. This is why some have called this space ‘The Garden of Conscience’.
Greeting you at the north entrance is none other than Emmeline Pankhurst – the fearless leader of the suffragettes, who risked their lives to win women the right to vote. Pankhurst’s statue stands in the shadow of the gloriously gothic Victoria Tower that gives the park its name – kick back on the grass and admire the architecture!
Nearby, you’ll discover a famous sculpture celebrating freedom: The Burghers of Calais by celebrated French sculptor, Auguste Rodin. Towards the southern end of the park, it’s impossible to miss the jewel-like Buxton Memorial, which commemorates the passing of the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833.
This space isn’t all politics, though. The tree-lined walkway along the bank of the Thames offers stunning views across to the Albert Embankment, framed by Westminster Bridge on one side and Vauxhall Bridge on the other. At the south end of the park is the award-winning Horseferry Playground, where children will delight in the water installation that reflects the history of the Thames.
Frequently asked questions
Please find some of Victoria Tower Gardens' most frequently asked questions below. If you can’t find the information you need then you can get in touch by using our contact form.
The pedestrian gates open from 7am and close at dusk each day, which varies throughout the year. This week's opening hours, and any public notices relating to temporary closures (due to park events or maintenance, for example) can be found on the Victoria Tower Gardens web page.
Victoria Tower Gardens is well served by a range of different public transport services:
The closest mainline stations are Vauxhall (22 minutes walk) and Waterloo (30 minutes walk) - both located on the opposite bank of the River Thames, and both served by services from South Western Railway.
You can travel to Victoria Tower Gardens via the Circle (Westminster) underground line. Slightly further afield, are the Bakerloo (Waterloo) and Victoria (Vauxhall) underground lines. These are a half-hour walk from the park.
Cycling to Victoria Tower Gardens has never been easier. There are a wealth of marked cycleways around the park, and full details can be found on the TfL website.
Victoria Tower Gardens is approximately 0.08 hectares (0.19 acres) in size, and is the smallest Royal Park. It's perimeter is approximately 760m long. You an view or download the park map here.
In 1867 the Government acquired the northern part of the gardens, to reduce the fire risk to the Palace of Westminster, but there was disagreement about whether it should remain an open green space or be built on. William Henry Smith (founder of W.H. Smith) stepped in, and donated £1,000 to preserve it as an open space – on the condition that it would be a place for recreation, particularly for the children of Westminster. The Government agreed – and matched his donation.
In 1913 the gardens were redesigned in a more natural landscape, with tranquil paths and a central shrubbery. This remained until 1956, when the shrubbery and trees standing in the lawns, were removed to give the small gardens a parkland atmosphere. This opened up the view, particularly of the Houses of Parliament.
More information on the park's history can be found here.
Victoria Tower Gardens has no on-site car parks, so if you plan to arrive by car you will need to find alternative locations nearby. To the north-west of the park there is an underground car park (accessed from Great College Street) which is run by Q-Park. Other locations can be found on information sites such as Parkopedia, and will charge for the duration of your stay.
No. Cycling is not permitted within Victoria Tower Gardens.
There is a 20p charge to use the public toilets in the parks. We have recently installed a contactless system which accepts credit/debit cards, prepaid cards and mobile wallet payments like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. Cash is no longer accepted.
Victoria Tower Gardens has one kiosk at the park's southern end. You can find the location on the park map.
Victoria Tower Gardens serves as a tranquil retreat from the bustling city, and has no dedicated facilities for organised sport.
No. Feeding birds and animals in the parks does more harm than good. You can learn more about why this is, and how you can help us in caring for their wellbeing here.
Getting in touch with park offices is quick and easy and all enquiries are handled by our dedicated Visitor & Park Support team.
Simply complete the short online enquiry form and your question(s) will be passed to the most appropriate staff member. To ensure an efficient service, please check that you have provided the following information:
- Your name
- Your email address
- Your enquiry
You can also contact the park offices by telephone using the following numbers:
- Hyde Park 0300 061 2000
- Kensington Gardens 0300 061 2000
- St. James's Park and The Green Park 0300 061 2350
- The Regent's Park 0300 061 2300
- Greenwich Park 0300 061 2380
- Richmond Park 0300 061 2200
- Bushy Park 0300 061 2250
To report lost property, please contact our Visitor and Park Support Team via their online contact form with the following information:
- Your contact details
- A description of the item
- Date and time when the item was lost
- Location (if known) where the item was lost
If the property has been found by staff or handed in to us we'll let you know.
No. Victoria Tower Gardens is not available as a location for personal training or group fitness sessions.
Fitness training licences are only available for Hyde Park, The Regent's Park, The Green Park, Greenwich Park, Richmond Park and Bushy Park. They are not available for St. James's Park, Kensington Gardens, Victoria Tower Gardens or Brompton Cemetery.
If you are filming/photographing by yourself on a mobile phone or action camera for purely personal use then no you don't need a permit to film/photograph in the park. However, for all other purposes you will need to obtain a filming or photography permit from The Royal Parks charity. Full information and online application forms can be found here.
Yes, we welcome informal picnics in the Royal Parks. Please read our guidance document for maximum group sizes and what is and isn't permitted. Please note that barbecues are not allowed.
Every year, we welcome hundreds of small and medium events to the Royal Parks, including walks and runs, large picnics, concerts and community sports. Applications for such events are considered by our dedicated Parks Events team. To find out more, and submit an application click here. At least six weeks’ notice is required.
Discover what you can see and do in Victoria Tower Gardens
A haven of peace and quiet, containing monuments and memorials to inspirational, courageous human beings.
Right in the heart of historic Westminster.
Monuments to the human spirit
Victoria Tower Gardens has a unique atmosphere. It’s home to two of London’s most moving monuments – memorials that commemorate the power of people to change history. Here you’ll find very human stories of personal heroism, passion and political conviction. The stone casting of Emmeline Pankhurst, is powerful in its simplicity. At the time, this memorial shocked the public with its compassionate portrayal of real pain and suffering.
The history behind these statues is as complex and fascinating as the people themselves.
The Gothic splendour of The Buxton Memorial
The Buxton Memorial commemorates Thomas Buxton, who helped to found the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. With its mosaics, marble, tiling and vaulting, The Buxton Memorial was originally design as a drinking fountain, and is now a monument to the Victorian passion for decoration – an embodiment of ‘more is more’. Quite a contrast to the understated statue of Emmeline Pankhurst.
Victoria Tower Gardens – a perfect lunchtime picnic spot
Victoria Tower Gardens is one of a handful of riverside garden parks in Central London – a little oasis of beautifully maintained lawns, secluded paths and secret corners where you can simply enjoy the peace and quiet and catch your breath.
Pick up a sandwich or baguette and a drink from the Gardens kiosk, or you’re welcome to bring your own food and drink and make a picnic of it. We’ve planted a hedge along the Millbank side of the Gardens to screen off traffic noise, so you can enjoy quality time in this beautiful historic setting.
Head for one of the raised benches along the South Bank and take in classic views of London – from Lambeth Bridge to the London Eye.
The Horseferry Playground – sandpits, swings and dance chimes
This part of Westminster is a fantastic place to visit and sightsee, but sometimes those with shorter attention spans just need to run around and play!
The Horseferry Playground in Victoria Tower Gardens has a wonderful water play area, and spectacular views of London. Perfect for the kids to have a quick play while you’re out taking in the sights.
Nature and wildlife of Victoria Tower Gardens
The peaceful seclusion of this beautiful, wooded garden makes it a sanctuary for animals and birds, in the very heart of London.
Victoria Tower Gardens may be small, but it’s home to a wide variety of birds, insects and plants. Its green space is part of a wildlife corridor running along the Thames, allowing species to travel freely, through the urban environment. The holly hedge running along the Millbank side of the Gardens, together with the many evergreen and winter-flowering shrubs, provides nesting cover and camouflage for smaller birds such as robins and wrens, blue tits and great tits.
There’s always a quiet, intimate corner to sit and birdwatch
Victoria Tower Gardens has over 50 mature London plane trees, providing shade and cover for birdlife. These trees are nature’s clean air filters too – filtering out airborne pollutants.
Because of its riverside location, the gardens are both home and hunting ground for pipistrelle bats – the smallest of the native bats, but with an impressive appetite. A bat can eat upwards of 3,000 insects in one evening. You’ll see them swooping through the air around 20 minutes after sunset, as to a soundtrack of a twilight chorus of blackbirds, thrushes and robins.
Victoria Tower Gardens – a Grade II listed public park
A place of peace, quiet and remembrance.
The path, green lawns and riverside setting of Victoria Tower Gardens are places to gather your thoughts, catch your breath and just enjoy the view.
Victoria Tower Gardens was opened as a formal green space in 1914. It’s undergone several incarnations since, but its current triangular layout hasn’t changed in over 70 years.
From here, you have captivating views of the Palace of Westminster and Lambeth Bridge, right along the River Thames to the London Eye. It’s one of the few riverside parks in Central London with open lawn space to enjoy or picnic. We’ve placed raised benches along the riverside wall so you can look out over the water, and planted a hedge alongside Millbank to screen out traffic noise. Even in winter, the evergreen and winter-flowering shrubs provide quiet, intimate corners to sit.
A place for everyone to play
The Horseferry Playground was named after the ferry that used to run between here and Lambeth Bridge. The playground was an important addition to the gardens, created for everyone to enjoy.
A riverside sanctuary in the political heart of Westminster
Victoria Tower Gardens boasts a stunning range of sculptures that celebrate freedom.
As you enter the park from Parliament Square, you’re greeted by an icon – Emmeline Pankhurst, the courageous suffragette who led the campaign that helped win women the vote. The statue was unveiled in 1930 by Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin – ironically, he had opposed votes for women! Emmeline Pankhurst has another important connection with The Royal Parks, as she is buried at Brompton Cemetery.
Just beyond Pankhurst is Auguste Rodin’s sculpture, The Burghers of Calais, telling the story of the siege of Calais which took place in the 1400s. The original stands outside Calais town hall, but Rodin had a number of casts made and travelled to London from his native France to advise on its placement.
Towards the other end of the park, is a memorial that celebrates the abolition of the slave trade. Known as the Buxton Memorial, it commemorates the work of MP Thomas Fowell Buxton – a prominent anti-slavery campaigner. The spectacular, colourful memorial originally sat on the edge of Parliament Square, but it was moved to Victoria Tower Gardens in the 1950s.
To find out more about these special works, explore the links below.
Burghers of Calais
The Burghers of Calais, by the French sculptor, Auguste Rodin, represents the idea of freedom from oppression. It tells the story of the siege of Calais in 1347, during the Hundred Years War.
Calais had been surrounded for a year by English soldiers under King Edward III. Six leading citizens of Calais, the Burghers, offered to die if Edward spared the rest of the town's people.
Edward's wife, Queen Philippa, heard about the Burgher's offer and asked if they could also be spared if the town surrendered. Edward agreed and all the people of Calais were allowed to leave.
Rodin made his original sculpture in 1889 to stand outside Calais town hall and later made four casts, of which this is one. It was bought by National Art Collection Fund in 1911. Rodin came to London to give advice on where to put it.
The Buxton Memorial celebrates the abolition of slavery and commemorates the work of the MP Thomas Fowell Buxton.
Buxton campaigned against slavery in parliament and helped to found the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society to abolish slavery throughout the world.
The monument was first installed on the edge of Parliament Square in 1865 by Buxton's son, Charles. It was moved to the gardens in 1957. The designer was Samuel Sanders Teulon.
Emmeline Pankhurst Memorial
This is the memorial to Emmeline Pankhurst, the leader of the suffragettes who campaigned for women's right to vote. She died in 1928, a month before all adult women could finally vote in elections.
The memorial is by A G Walker, who also sculpted Florence Nightingale in Waterloo Place. It was unveiled in 1930 by the Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, who had opposed votes for women. Musicians from the Metropolitan Police, some of whom had arrested the suffragettes during demonstrations, asked to play for the ceremony.
The statue shows one of Mrs Pankhurst's familiar gestures. She was a great public speaker and often went to the theatre to copy the voices of her favourite actors. Inside the pedestal, there is a metal box containing Mrs Pankhurst's letters and the obituary to her in The Times.
Emmeline Pankhurst is buried in Brompton Cemetery where you can visit her gravestone.
The history of Victoria Tower Gardens
A celebration of historic endeavour, freedom and equality.
Victoria Tower Gardens – Westminster’s secret green space
Tucked between the Houses of Parliament and the River Thames, Victoria Tower Gardens is a place that quietly celebrates some of history’s most famous campaigners for human rights, and personal freedoms.
A Victorian gift to the people of Westminster
The Grade II listed park, managed by The Royal Parks Charity, was created in two stages, and falls within a conservation area. The Government acquired the northern part of the gardens in 1867, to reduce the fire risk to the Palace of Westminster, but there was some disagreement about whether it should remain an open green space or be built on.
Eventually, the newspaper retailer William Henry Smith (founder of W.H. Smiths) stepped in, and donated £1,000 to preserve it as an open space – on the condition that it would be a place for recreation, particularly for the children of Westminster. The Government agreed – and match-funded his donation.
The second phase in the creation of Victoria Tower Gardens came just before the First World War, in 1913. The gardens were redesigned in a more natural landscape, with tranquil paths and a central shrubbery. This remained until 1956, when the shrubbery and trees standing in the lawns, were removed to give the small gardens a parkland atmosphere. This opened up the view, particularly of the Houses of Parliament.
The history of The Buxton memorial
The jewel-like Buxton Memorial commemorates the abolition of the slave trade in Britain and the British empire. It also honours Thomas Buxton, who played an important role in the campaign against slavery by founding the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society.
Samuel Sanders Teulon, a self-taught architect, designed this striking, gothic memorial – a perfect example of the Victorian passion for embellishment.
The history of ‘The Burghers of Calais’ by Rodin
Auguste Rodin’s bronze sculpture called The Burghers of Calais commemorates the courage of ordinary people facing exceptional danger.
Rodin made his original sculpture in 1889 and later made four casts, of which this is one. He even came to London in person to advise on where it should be placed.
Emmeline Pankhurst’s statue
Victoria Tower Gardens is also well-known as the site of Arthur George Walker’s Grade II listed bronze statue of Emmeline Pankhurst, the famous Suffragette and campaigner for women’s rights. Emmeline stands with her arms outstretched as though speaking at a rally.
If you’re interested in the history of Emmeline Pankhurst, you can visit her grave, at Brompton Cemetery.
The history of Horseferry Playground
Victoria Tower Gardens has always welcomed children – in fact the Government had to pledge to make the gardens a place for children to play, right from the start.
The Horseferry Playground in Victoria Tower Gardens features a sandpit, swings, and a water play installation designed to represent the River Thames. You can have fun – and get a bit of history– by seeing if you and your children can spot historic events embedded in the railings surrounding the playground. Look carefully and you should see The Great Fire of London, and Lord Nelson’s Funeral Barge.