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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

One of the Oval Mansions blocks under renovation in 2005, next to gasholder and cricket ground
A four storey cream-coloured block of the complex is pictured in 2005 to the left of the photograph, above the cricket ground

Oval Mansions are eight separate blocks of tenement housing in Kennington, south London. The blocks stand between the Oval cricket ground and the Oval Gasholders. After being occupied by one hundred squatters from 1983 until 2000 (notable residents including Ian Dury and Gillian Wearing), the buildings were sold off by Lambeth Council in the early 2000s.


The eight blocks of the Oval Mansions were built as tenement housing in the 1890s. The original inhabitants were nurses and employees at the nearby gasworks.[1] Some of four-storey blocks overlook the Oval cricket ground, and it is possible to watch cricket from the roof.[2][3]

The blocks were closed in 1979 by order of the new owner, Lambeth Council, since they were becoming unsafe; they had wooden stairs and no fire escapes. The council had bought the mainly uninhabited site from the Greater London Council.[1]


Most of empty buildings were squatted from January 1983 onwards.[4] Blocks 1, 3 and 4 were occupied in 1983, blocks 2 and 7 in 1984 and blocks 6 and 8 in 1985.[5] The council having forgotten about them, the squatters renovated and repaired the apartments, living there in a community of approximately 100 people.[2][1] Notable residents included the singer Ian Dury, artist Gillian Wearing and musicians Pan Sonic.[6]

Between 1988 and 1998, squatters set up and ran the City Racing art gallery in a former betting shop on the ground floor.[7][8] The gallery exhibited the work of Young British Artists such as Sarah Lucas and Gillian Wearing, selling three Lucas artworks to Charles Saatchi.[4] The community also ran a film club and tended shared gardens.[9][1]


By the late 1990s, Lambeth Council had realised the increasing monetary value of the apartments and issued eviction proceedings in 1997. The squatters were offered social housing elsewhere, which some took, but others contested the eviction process, arguing that they were entitled to adverse possession since they had lived there as a community for over twelve years.[1] Thirty-two squatters made their case in court, and six apartments successfully gained ownership. Judge Cooke decided that another fifty-three squats had not proven their case, with one extra still in dispute.[5] The squatters took their case to the Court of Appeal, claiming that they had acquired title by virtue of joint possession. The appeal was rejected in December 2000.[5][10]

By 2003, Lambeth Council had sold the majority of the Oval Mansions for £5.1 million.[11] As of 2015, a penthouse apartment could be rented for £500 per week and in 2017, a two-bed apartment sold for £730,000.[3]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Rowe, Mark (23 August 1998). "For the oldest squatters in town, eviction is just not cricket". The Independent. Archived from the original on 20 August 2017. Retrieved 11 June 2020.
  2. ^ a b Hibbert, Christopher; Keay, John; Keay, Julia; Weinreb, Ben (2008). The London Encyclopaedia (3rd [rev.] ed.). London: Pan Macmillan. p. 448. ISBN 9781405049252. Retrieved 11 June 2020.
  3. ^ a b Sport, Telegraph (26 July 2017). "Welcome to the best seat at The Oval - and it's not even inside the stadium". The Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 7 September 2017. Retrieved 11 June 2020.
  4. ^ a b Lowndes, Sarah (2016). The DIY movement in art, music and publishing : subjugated knowledges. London: Routledge. ISBN 9781315732664. Retrieved 11 June 2020.
  5. ^ a b c Lambeth vs Bigden & Ors (England and Wales Court of Appeal 1 December 2000).Text
  6. ^ Myers, Ben (3 September 2012). "Criminalising squatters will hurt British pop music". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 31 July 2017. Retrieved 11 June 2020.
  7. ^ Lack, Jessica (12 November 2008). "Artist of the week 15: Paul Noble". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 7 April 2020. Retrieved 11 June 2020.
  8. ^ "Push the Envelope – Sustaining arts communities on the left bank" (PDF). Lambeth Riverside Festival 2006. 19 July 2006. Retrieved 11 June 2020.
  9. ^ "Squatted Mansions". Squall Magazine. March 2000. Retrieved 11 June 2020.
  10. ^ Pawlowski, Mark; Brown, James (2017). "Adverse Possession and the Transmissibility of Possessory Rights – The Dark Side of Land Registration?" (PDF). Conveyancer and Property Lawyer. 2: 116–131. ISSN 0010-8200. Retrieved 11 June 2020.
  11. ^ "Council evicts 'veteran' squatter". BBC News. 11 May 2000. Archived from the original on 25 March 2006. Retrieved 11 June 2020.
This page was last edited on 17 July 2020, at 10:10
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