Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006
Oval Mansions
Photo: Timothy Allen

Squatted Mansions

Oval Mansions, a group of tenement blocks squatted since the 1970s is being evicted

Squall Download 3, March/April 2000, pg. 6.

Jane Sutton and her two-day-old baby daughter occupy one of the 53 flats in Oval Mansions, due to be evicted by Lambeth Council. Oval Mansions, a series of eight Victorian tenement blocks overlooking Oval Cricket Ground have been occupied since the 1970’s by a community of creatively active squatters.

The Mansions hosted an Arts council funded art gallery in the nineties exhibiting the likes of Gillian Wearing (Turner prize winner) and Mark Wallinger. Ian Dury is amongst a number of musicians who have lived in the flats. The Oval Mansions community still run a regular film club.

Although 32 squatters argued that they had been in occupation for over 12 years and were entitled to claim ownership under adverse possession rules, only six flats succeeded with the legal arguments. Judge Roger Cook ruled that another 53 squats had not proven their ownership claims and one is still in dispute. The judge said that the squatters could not prove continuous occupation by any one individual resident and rejected their argument that they had lived there as an identifiable community for well over 12 years.