Survey of London: Volume 37, Northern Kensington. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1973.
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CHAPTER X - Chepstow Villas and Pembridge Square Area
WHEN large-scale building development began here in the late 1840's, the greater part of this area (fig. 66) belonged to three absentee landowners, James Weller Ladbroke, esquire, of Lavington or Petworth, Sussex, Robert Hall, esquire, of Old Bond Street, and G. S. Archer, esquire, of Wingham, Kent. (fn. 7) Ladbroke owned some thirty-three acres, consisting of two separate holdings, one of five acres now known as Linden Gardens, and the other of twenty-eight acres. Both these holdings were only relatively small detached portions of his total estate in Kensington, the bulk of which comprised some 170 acres to the west of Portobello Lane (see Chapter IX). Hall's estate, also of twenty-eight acres, formed a buffer separating Ladbroke's three holdings. It was shaped like a Y, the base and left-hand arm extending along the east side of Pembridge and Portobello Roads, and the right-hand arm occupying the modern sites of Dawson Place and Pembridge Square. Archer's land, one field of ten acres, was situated on the east side of Portobello Road to the north of Hall's ground.
The Ladbroke and Hall estates
The earliest building in this area began in the mid 1820's in Linden Gardens (then Linden Grove), but the history of these five acres is quite separate from the rest of the area, and is therefore described separately on page 268. Elsewhere development did not begin until 1844, when, prompted no doubt by the tremendous building boom then in progress in Paddington, James Weller Ladbroke signed an agreement with William Henry Jenkins for the development of his twenty-eight acres. (fn. 1)
W. H. Jenkins was a civil engineer, of 43 Lincoln's Inn Fields. By the agreement he undertook to take Ladbroke's twenty-eight acres, which had hitherto been let at an agricultural rent of £133 per annum (or £4 15s. per acre), (fn. 8) for ninety-nine years, paying in the first year a rent of £150, which was to rise in the fifth and all succeeding years to £560 (or £20 per acre). He covenanted that within five years he would spend at least £ 10,000 on roads, sewers and houses, and that within twelve years he would build at least eighty houses, each of which was to be of at least £500 in value. In return for these undertakings Ladbroke covenanted that he would grant leases to Jenkins or his nominees of all houses as soon as they were covered in. When the ground rent of £560 had been secured by such leases, he would grant the remaining land to Jenkins at a peppercorn rent, and here Jenkins was to be permitted to erect cheaper houses, but of at least £300 in value each.
This agreement was the last of five such contracts made by Ladbroke with building speculators between 1840 and 1844, the other four being all concerned with land on the main portion of his estate further west (see Chapter IX). It was much more precise in its terms than the four previous contracts, and was clearly drawn up in the light of the Metropolitan Building Act passed later in the same year, 1844, which inter alia extended public regulation of building to Kensington for the first time. The houses were to be built of sound bricks and Baltic timber conformable to the requirements of the new Act, and the inspection of building work, which elsewhere on the estate had hitherto been done by Ladbroke's own surveyor, Thomas Allason, was, as soon as the new Act had passed, to be done by the new district surveyor for North Kensington.
Ladbroke's own requirements, too, were more precise. All roads were to be at least thirty-five feet in width, including the footways, and Jenkins was to provide brick boundary walls or iron fences between each plot. The lessees of individual houses were to covenant to pay for the upkeep of the roads, to insure their houses against fire for three quarters of their value, and to paint the exteriors every four years. They were not to build any additions without Ladbroke's consent, or to practise certain noisome trades. In view of this greater stringency it is, however, remarkable that no control whatever was imposed in matters of elevational treatment, nor was there any reference to a layout plan. (fn. 9)
The terms of this agreement were at once confirmed by a private Act of Parliament promoted in 1844 by and at the expense of Ladbroke chiefly for the purpose of clearing up the confusions which the loose wording of the four previous contracts had caused on the main portion of the estate. (fn. 9) By August 1844 a layout plan for Jenkins's twentyeight acres had been prepared; applications were being made to the Westminster Commissioners of Sewers for leave to form new sewers, and building plots were being advertised as to let. (fn. 10)
At this point W. H. Jenkins assigned his interest in the estate to his kinsman, William Kinnaird Jenkins of Hyde Park Gardens, esquire. (fn. 11) Since at least 1838 W. K. Jenkins had been speculating on adjacent land to the east in Paddington, where Newton, Garway, Monmouth and Hereford Roads were all built under his auspices. (fn. 12) (fn. 2) Under his experienced management the development of these twenty-eight acres of the Ladbroke estate went smoothly forward, despite the general slump in building in Kensington in the years 1847–9.
W. K. Jenkins is himself said to have been a well-known lawyer, (fn. 13) but whether this was so or not, he certainly employed a lawyer to act for him on the estate. This was T. W. Budd, of the firm of Budd and Haves of Bedford Row, who had acted in 1835 on behalf of the Bishop of London and the trustees of the Paddington estate in drainage matters in the Westbourne Grove area. (fn. 15) On W. K. Jenkins's estate Budd was concerned in 1845 in numerous applications to the Commissioners of Sewers, (fn. 16) and it was to him that applicants for building plots were invited to apply. (fn. 17) Later, he became a lessee himself, and sub-let to builders. (fn. 18) Ultimately he took several large blocks of land, comprising about one third of the whole twenty-eight-acre estate, on lease from W. K. Jenkins, (fn. 19) and developed them himself by the normal procedure of granting building leases. He seems, indeed, to have operated in much the same way as other lawyers, notably Richard Roy and Thomas Pocock, on the main portion of the Ladbroke estate, though on a considerably smaller scale.
The author of the layout plan of the estate is not known, but it may be that Ladbroke's own architect, Thomas Allason, was responsible. The ground was flat, and it was therefore natural to extend Westbourne Grove from its then western extremity in Paddington still further west towards Portobello Lane (now Road), where it would join the main portion of the Ladbroke estate beyond. Another road, Pembridge Villas, curved southwestward towards Notting Hill Gate, where it joined the southern end of Portobello Lane. W. H. Jenkins had originally envisaged rows of paired houses all over the estate, (fn. 17) with two straight roads leading due west off Pembridge Villas, but in May 1845 W. K. Jenkins substituted a less rigid layout in which the two straight roads were replaced by Chepstow Villas and Chepstow Crescent, both gently curved. (fn. 20)
The originality of the layout of the main portion of the Ladbroke estate to the west is, however, absent. There are no communally shared paddocks abutting directly on to the surrounding houses, each of which here has its own private garden. In Pembridge Square, the only large open space, which is situated on the adjoining estate of Robert Hall, the houses are separated from the central garden by the roadway. The architectural character of the area is, however, more homogeneous than on the other Ladbroke lands largely due, no doubt, to the leasing of sizeable parcels of land to a few speculators, who adopted a correspondingly small number of house types. Most of the houses are specious and pleasant detached or semi-detached villas, faced with stucco and set in gardens along broad and often curving streets. There are also a number of smaller houses ranged in terraces. This mixture of house types, and the mildly Italianate style in which they are generally built, mark a departure from the greater uniformity prevalent in earlier years of the nineteenth century, and give the area its relaxed and informal quality.
Constructional work began soon after August 1844, when the first application to lay sewers was presented to the Westminster Commissioners. (fn. 21) Within less than three years permission was granted for W. H. or W. K. Jenkins to lay some 4,840 feet of sewers in Westbourne Grove, Chepstow Villas, Chepstow Place and Chepstow Crescent (the latter then part of Ledbury Road), Pembridge Villas and Pembridge Place. At an estimated fifteen shillings per foot this work represented an investment of some £3,630. The principal contractor was William Judd. (fn. 22) At the same time W. K. Jenkins leased several parcels of land to speculators, including Henry Vallance of Campden Hill Square, gentleman (south-east side of Pembridge Villas), (fn. 23) James Bennett, builder (north side of Westbourne Grove), (fn. 24) and George Treadaway (east side of Chepstow Place), (fn. 25) a draper of Harrow Road who is said to have enriched himself by selling clothing to navvies employed on the Great Western Railway. (fn. 13) (fn. 3) James Hall, the largest builder on the Jenkins estate, came here from St. Pancras in 1846–7 and took his first block of land at the eastern end of Pembridge Villas. His scale of business was large enough for him to employ his own clerk of works, (fn. 26) and between 1846 and 1854 he built some sixty-five houses on Jenkins's land, (fn. 27) including most of those in Pembridge Place. Subsequently he moved on to still larger speculations on the Holland estate, where he ultimately overreached himself and became bankrupt (see pages 113–16).
Building proceeded steadily on Jenkins's land, uninterrupted by the frequent bankruptcies and financial failures which had so violently punctuated progress on the main portion of the Ladbroke estate. The building agreement of 1844 with Ladbroke had specified that at least eighty houses should be built within twelve years, but this condition was fulfilled in a quarter of this period, with the full ground rent of £560 secured by the leases already granted on houses convered in. Accordingly in April 1847 Felix Ladbroke (who had now inherited the freehold) granted W. K. Jenkins a long lease of all the remaining unbuilt land at a peppercorn rent, as had been stipulated in another clause of the agreement of 1844. (fn. 28) Immediately afterwards Jenkins assigned about one third of the estate, mostly in the south-eastern part of it, to his lawyer, T. W. Budd, (fn. 19) who was no doubt in part responsible for the success of the whole speculation. Two years later, in 1849, Budd bought the freehold of this land from Ladbroke, and W. K. Jenkins acquired that of more than half of the remainder. (fn. 29)
Owing to the limitations of the documentary material available no assessment of Jenkins's profit on these operations can be made, but he had evidently been successful, for in January 1846 he had agreed to take a lease of another ten acres of ground to the west from the neighbouring landowner, Robert Hall (fig. 66). (fn. 30) (fn. 4) This acquisition enabled him to extend Chepstow Villas westward to Portobello Lane, and to lay out another northsouth street, now known as Denbigh Road and Pembridge Crescent, parallel with Ledbury Road and Chepstow Crescent. The principal builders here were James Hall and various members of the Cullingford and Maidlow families. Building progressed more slowly here, and in 1857 The Building News reported that in Pembridge Crescent 'several vacant sites yet remain to be filled up'. (fn. 31) In 1859, when building in this street was nearly complete, there were several unoccupied houses, and it seems that the supply of this 'run of the mill' type of house had exceeded the demand, at least in this locality. (fn. 32)
The remainder of Robert Hall's estate, to the south of Jenkins's land, was developed by the Radford family of builders, and Jenkins was in no way concerned here. (fn. 5) Francis Radford (or Francis Radford the younger, as he was often called) began to work in the Pembridge area in 1848, when he was aged twentyseven and was described as of Pickering Place, Bayswater, builder. (fn. 33) His first houses were on Jenkins's land, Nos. 37–41 (odd) Pembridge Villas, of which he was granted leases by W. K. Jenkins in 1848. No. 41 was known as Home Cottage, where he lived and/or had his office for some years, and where he was joined in 1849 by his elder brother, William Radford. (fn. 34) In 1871 Francis Radford was living in one of the houses which his brother had built, No. 55 Pembridge Villas, and the firm was then employing about sixty men. (fn. 35)
Francis and William Radford began the development of the Hall estate in 1849, when the executors of the estate (Robert Hall being now dead) agreed to lease to William Radford of Home Cottage one acre of land on the north side of Dawson Place west of Pembridge Place. (fn. 36) During the next fifteen years they built sewers, roads and some 125 houses on the Hall estate, mostly of the large detached variety, including all those in Pembridge Square and Pembridge Garden, (fn. 6) and many in Dawson Place and on the east side of Pembridge Villas and Pembridge Road. Ninety-nine-year leases of the convered-in houses were granted by Robert Hall's executors to either Francis or William Radford (or sometimes to both of them jointly) or to their nominees. Francis was the dominant partner, however, for on his death in 1900 in his eightieth year an obituary in a local newspaper stated that he was 'both architect and builder of those well-known properties in Holland-park, Pembridge-square, Pembridge-gardens and Dawson-place'. His nephew also later stated that Francis Radford was 'his own architect'. He was originally from Devonshire, but had settled in Kensington, where he was for many years a member of the Vestry.
This speculation was one of the largest and most successful in Victorian Notting Hill. By the time of its completion in about 1864 the Radfords had already moved on to another equally efficiently managed enterprise in Holland Park (see page 119), where they erected some ninety more large detached houses, almost identical in design to the type which had proved so successful in Pembridge Square. Francis Radford's 'effects' were valued in 1900 at some £256,000. (fn. 38)
Such little evidence as exists suggests that the Radfords' building work in the Pembridge area was financed by a long series of private mortgages arranged by one of Robert Hall's executors. This was Stephen Garrard, an attorney of the firm of Garrard and James of Suffolk Street, Pall Mall. The mortgagees included a Member of Parliament, a barrister, a farmer from Southall, a titled Warwickshire clergyman, a publisher (George Bell), a Brentford confectioner and a dealer in patent medicines, as well as James Lock of the famous firm of hatters in St. James's Street, who was related to the Hall family and after becoming one of the executors of the estate was a party with Garrard in the granting of a number of leases to the Radfords. (fn. 39) Some of these mortgages were large by the standard of the time—£1,750 for No. 29 Pembridge Gardens in 1858, for instance, or £2,000 for No. 15 Pembridge Square in 1863 (fn. 40) but even before the opening of the Metropolitan Railway station at Notting Hill Gate in 1868 there was evidently no shortage of purchasers for the houses, and money was plentiful.
The whole speculation was, indeed, probably successful for all parties concerned. In their leases to the Radfords Hall's executors were able to reserve substantial ground rents, most of those in Pembridge Square being within the range of £34 to £43 per annum. Rack rents in Pembridge Gardens varied from £150 to £210 per annum. In 1860 the executors sold the fee simple of a number of houses, including No. 29 Pembridge Gardens, and in this same year a City gentleman bought both the leasehold and freehold interests in this house for £3,935. This was evidently a good bargain, for only five years later he was able to sell the house, with its back garden now enlarged, for £5,000; and in 1889 the same property changed hands again for £6,500. (fn. 41)
A perambulation of the area shows that there were six well-defined types of house. The first of these is the relatively undistinguished terrace housing in the Ledbury Road district, erected by several different speculators. The second type is the double-fronted and spacious detached villa, faced with stucco, to be found in Chepstow Villas and Pembridge Villas, erected by the builder James Hall. The third type is that of the more ambitious villas of Dawson Place, usually double-fronted, with enriched cornices and other architectural ornament, by the Radfords. The fourth type is the grand monumental villa found in Pembridge Gardens for which the Radfords were also responsible, and which was to be developed to the even grander fifth variety found in Pembridge Square. The last type of house is that in the Pembridge Crescent area, but it is coarse in comparison with the earlier, gracious proportions of the houses built by Hall and the Radfords.
In Chepstow Crescent, Nos. 2–24 (even) form a curved terrace of stock brick divided vertically by stucco pilasters and with heavy stucco entablatures, an interesting attempt by several speculators to merge their buildings in a single coherent façade. These houses date from 1846–7 and, although some stucco was applied to the façades, the treatment is simple, with no elaborate mouldings or decorative work.
Ledbury Road, of the same period, consists of modest terraces of houses, with frontages of eighteen or nineteen feet, mostly of stock brick with attempts to enrich façades in some cases with stucco Corinthian pilasters and entablatures, and in others with consoles and other Italianate detail. Nos. 32–38 (even), leased to William Cullingford and William Judd, builders, in 1846, are designed as a unified whole, with giant stucco Corinthian pilasters, and rosettes over the architraves of the first—floor windows. Nos. 47–51 (odd), leased to John Snook of Paddington, builder, in 1846, are also of stock brick, with coarse stucco architraves around the window openings. Plans are of the conventional terrace type, with two rooms on each floor, and a staircase to the side.
In Chepstow Villas, Nos. 2–8 (even), leased in 1846 (Plate 68b), are characteristic specimens of the work of their builder, William Reynolds, who was also active on the Ladbroke estate, especially in Clarendon Road and Lansdowne Road. They are semi-detached villas, built of stock brick with stucco-faced ground floor and basement, strings, parapet and architraves of stucco, and poorly proportioned columns, based on the Corinthian order, in the porches.
The restrained fronts of Nos. 25–33 (odd) Chepstow Villas, detached houses built between 1851 and 1853, are by the builder James Hall. They have double-fronted symmetrical stucco façades of two storeys over basements, with widely proportioned windows on either side of the massive central door. The entablatures are enriched, and most of the houses originally had balustrades above, but in many cases these have now been removed. This type of house is markedly similar to J. B. Papworth's design for a house for Captain Capel, and other projects at Cheltenham in 1828.
Similar to houses built by Hall are those in Dawson Place, built by the Radfords in the early 1850's, again mostly of two storeys over basements, double-fronted, with enriched cornices, some having balustrades above. Nos. 6–14 (even) Dawson Place are asymmetrical, while Nos. 18–20 (even) are semi-detached.
The most outstanding houses in Dawson Place are Nos. 13–23 (odd) (Plate 68a). No. 23 is a modification of the standard double-fronted house, for bay windows have been added on either side of the Roman Doric porches forming the centrepieces. The bay windows are sub-divided by pilasters which carry an entablature continuous with that of the porch. Above the main entablature is an attic feature comprising a balustrade between two piers carrying a segmental pediment.
Nos. 25 and 27, probably designed by Thomas Wyatt, surveyor, and built in conjunction with the Radfords in 1851–2, are large houses with dentilled cornices and balustrades over the front porches. No. 29, leased by direction of the Radfords to Wyatt, has and enriched dentilled cornice and balustrades of stucco over the first-floor windows and porch.
These houses in Dawson Place may be considered as models for the larger ones which the Radfords began to build in Pembridge Gardens in 1856–7; and these in turn were the progenitors of the still larger and grander type which they subsequently erected in large numbers in both Pembridge Square and Holland Park. In Pembridge Gardens they built substantial but very closely spaced stucco-fronted detached houses in the Italiantate manner, each having three or four storeys over a basement. Nos. 1–15 (odd) and 2–16 (even), with four storeys and frontages of thirty feet, have Roman Doric proches placed asymmetrically, and balconies at first-floor level carried on enriched brackets and with cast-iron balustrades (Plate 68d). The first-floor windows have moulded architraves with cornices above, and there are enriched entablatures above the second-floor windows. At Nos. 17–29 (odd) and 18–34 (even), which are mostly of three storeys with attics and have frontages of around forty feet, the porches are placed centrally, the firstfloor windows are aediculated, and there are rich modillioned cornices (fig. 67). All the houses are set back behind shallow front gardens which are enclosed by stucco balustrades and large piers (only a few now survive) supporting high wooden gates with cast-iron panels inset. The paths leading up to the projecting porches have coloured tiles. At the rear most of the houses only have small yards, but Nos. 15–29. (odd) have substantial gardens.
The Building News followed the Radfords' work in Pembridge Gardens with interest and on the whole with approval. The houses in building in 1858–9 at the southern end were said to be 'of a very superior description, and of various sizes, to suit large or small families'. On the ground floor of each there was 'a dining-room, library and business-room', and on the half-landing of the staircase, at the rear a small conservatory and cloak-room. The two drawing-rooms were on the first floor, and on the two storeys above there were eight bedrooms and dressing-rooms and one bathroom. 'Every modern convenience' was provided throughout, and in the basement there were 'spacious kitchens, servants' halls, and other domestic arrangements'. (fn. 42)
In the larger and wider houses at the north end (Nos. 17–29 odd and 18–34 even) all the reception rooms were on the ground floor. The centrally placed entrance, nine feet in width, led into a hall, on the left of which were the diningand breakfast-rooms, and on the right 'an elegant suite of drawing-rooms'. On the first floor there were four bedrooms, on the second five, and above were three roomy attics for servants. Another account mentions one bathroom. The basements of 'these desirable residences' were 'all fitted up with every modern improvement for domestic comfort'. Despite its approval for the placing of all the reception rooms on the ground floor, 'which appears to us a very convenient arrangement', The Building News nevertheless considered the planning of these houses to be in 'the oldfashioned style, having an entrance in the centre, a staircase opposite, and reception-rooms on each side'. (fn. 43)
All of the houses in Pembridge Gardens were very substantially built. The outer walls are three bricks thick in the basements, diminishing to two bricks in the ground floors, and one and a half bricks above. The roofs, covered with Welsh slates, are framed on timbers of considerable sizes. The inner partitions are of brickwork where supporting the stone wall-hung stair that runs from the basement to the first floor, but elsewhere they are of framed and braced studding generally composed of 2" × 6" members at 18" centres with lath and plaster finishes. The staircase balustrades are of cast-iron, with mahogany handrails.
At No. 29 Pembridge Gardens a schedule of fixtures made in 1882 has survived, and was recently published by a later occupant of the house, Miss Irene Scouloudi. Although the house had been considerably altered by 1882, notably by a substantial extension at the rear, the schedule does nevertheless contain valuable information about the internal fittings of a large Victorian dwelling at that time. Miss Scouloudi states that 'hot and cold water were laid on at five points: the housemaid's sink and the bathroom on the second floor, the wash-bowl in the ground-floor cloakroom, the wash-bowl in the basement passage, and the stone sink in the scullery'. The sink in the butler's pantry had a cold tap only, but there was no supply to the best bedrooms on the first floor, to which water was brought in cans by a servant when rung for by means of one of the numerous bell-pulls with which many rooms were equipped. All water was heated by a '5 feet open fire range with open, high pressure boiler' in the kitchen, but there was also a smaller range in the scullery. There was a water-closet on each floor except the topmost, equipped with 'apparatus in mahogany case', that in the basement, however, being of deal. Gas was laid on, but the only light-fittings noted were at the front door and tradesmen's entrance. The mantelpieces were of marble, slate or stone, and many rooms were fitted with register stoves. Doors were in general 'grained', and had brass or black or white porcelain knobs and finger plates. The ground-floor and basement windows had folding shutters, protection being afforded by iron bars on the outside. In addition to the kitchen and scullery the basement also contained the servants' hall, butler's pantry, housekeeper's room, larder, wine cellar and coal cellar, most of these rooms being fitted with shelves, large deal cupboards and/or dressers. (fn. 44)
The census of 1861 shows that twenty-eight of the thirty-four houses in Pembridge Gardens were then occupied, and that the total number of residents was 241, of whom 98 were servants. The average number of inhabitants per house was thus 8.5, of whom 3.5 were servants. Foreign connexions, particularly with the East, were common among the householders. Of the seven merchants listed, four were Greek, and two others described themselves as 'East India Merchant' and 'Cape Merchant'. There was also a Major-General in the service of the East India Company, a retired Major-General who had been born in the East Indies, a widowed East India Company pensioner and a 'West India proprietor'. Other householders included three lawyers, and one hosier, chintz printer, bookseller, stockbroker, surveyor, colliery owner and publisher. There were five governesses to look after the children of the numerous large families. The largest single household was that of the East India merchant at No. 32, who employed five servants and a governess to look after himself and his family of ten.
In Pembridge Square the first three houses to be completed, Nos. 1–3 consec. (Plate 69c), stand at the south-west corner between Pembridge Gardens and Pembridge Road, and differ from those built later in the rest of the square. Due to their commanding situation at the principal entrance to the square they have very wide frontages, those of Nos. 2 and 3 measuring over sixty feet. They have stuccoed fronts in the Radfords' Italianate manner, and were originally intended to have three storeys above basements, (fn. 45) but at Nos. 1 and 2 one extra storey was added, and No. 3 has five storeys in all, these additions having probably all been made in the 1860's or 1870's. The Doric order is used at ground-floor level but the two original upper storeys are Corinthian, being divided vertically by pilasters with enriched capitals and surmounted by the usual entablature.
Throughout the rest of Pembridge Square (Plate 69a, b), the Radfords produced a standard detached house which they repeated over thirty times there between 1857, and 1864, and about ninety times more in Holland Park. On this design they lavished splendid workmanship, assured detail, and the best of materials. Each house is over forty-five feet in width. They are three windows wide, the central one being narrower, and have a basement, three main storeys, and an attic. The outer bays have three-sided bay windows rising to second-floor level, and are crowned by balustrades ornamented by urns, few of which now survive. The doorways are Roman Doric, with moulded entablatures containing triglyphs and dentils. The quoins are rusticated at groundfloor level and are plain above. The main entablatures of the houses are finely moulded, with fully ornamented stucco-work, modillioned and dentilled, and surmounted by an attic storey treated with great originality. The two outer windows above the entablature are semi-circular headed with moulded architraves, and are surmounted by dentil cornices and segmental pediments, while the central window has a keystone, moulded archivolts and imposts at the springing, crowned by a bracketed cornice carrying decorative ornament above. These window structures are linked to the balustrades by consoles, as are the tall chimney-stacks on the outer walls, where huge swept brackets with large urns at their feet rise to support the consoles against the stacks.
The internal planning provides a natural development from that of the larger double-fronted houses in Pembridge Gardens which has already been described, but the rooms are bigger and more numerous, and the plasterwork more elaborate.
Iron and glass entrance canopies were added to some houses in the latter part of the nineteenth century, but the substantial cast-iron railings which once surrounded the open space in the centre of the square and enclosed the shallow front gardens of the houses have all been removed. To-day, post and wire fencing, ill-considered alterations involving the destruction of entablatures to accommodate modern windows, and general erosion of detail, have damaged Pembridge Square considerably, yet the grandeur of the mansions is still impressive.
The census of 1871 shows that temporary caretakers still occupied six houses in the square, and that the families normally resident in two others were away on the day of the count. The total number of occupants in the remaining twenty-seven houses was 349, of whom 171 were servants. The average number of inhabitants per house was thus 12.9 of whom 6.3 were servants. In sixteen households the servants euqualled or exceeded the number of other residents; usually there was a butler, footman and lady's maid, and often a page. Foreign connexions were common among the householders, as in Pembridge Gardens. Eight of the nine merchants traded abroad (two, both of Scottish origin, with Australia), and there were also two indigo planters and a proprietor of houses in Spain. Other householders included an underwriter, a 'scientific chemist', and a wholesale manufacturing stationer, whose establishment of twenty-one, comprising himself and his wife, their eight children, two governesses and nine servants, was the largest in the square. Only four professional men lived in such an opulent milieu—three lawyers and one soldier, Field-Marshal Sir John Fox Burgoyne.
Much coarser, smaller, and architectually less interesting are the houses in Pembridge Crescent, mostly detached or semi-detached, for which two families of builders, the Cullingfords and the Maidlows, were mainly responsible (fig. 68). The Cullingfords favoured an idiosyncratic Romanesque detail whilst the Maidlows inclined to a more correct Italianate style. Typical of the Cullingfords' houses are Nos. 1, 6, 9 and 10 Pembridge Crescent, while the Maidlows' work is best represented by No. 14, a correctly proportioned house with modillioned cornice and aediculated treatment of attice window openings. W. H. Cullingford built similar houses to No. I Pembridge Crescent at Nos. 9–15 (odd) and Nos. 14–20 (even) Phillimore Gardens.
The remains of an interesting design of 1857 by the architect W. W. Pocock in what The Building News described as the 'Italian Doric' style may be found in Denbigh Road (Nos. 9 and 11), although the stucco detail has been much damaged. These houses, of three storeys and basements, had Venetian windows to the first floors, with pediment heads supported by moulded consoles. The upper lights were surrounded by plainer stucco architraves, and the houses were surmounted by enriched cornices over which were open balustraded parapets. The plans were of the usual terrace type, with two and three rooms to each floor. (fn. 46)
The Archer-Bolton estate
The spacious development of Robert Hall's twenty-eight acres, under the auspices of W. K. Jenkins or, after his death in 1850, of his executors, (fn. 47) in Pembridge Crescent, and by the Radfords in Dawson Place and Pembridge Square and Gardens, was in marked contrast with the cramped and undistinguished building which took place on the small neighbouring estate to the north. These ten acres, bounded on the north by the Portobello estate, on the east and south by Jenkins's and Hall's lands respectively, and on the west by Protobello Lane, belonged to G. S. Archer, esquire, of Wingham, Kent. He did not actively concern himself with his property, and the effective developer here was T. J. Bolton, a Paddington builder to whose nominees most of the building leases signed by Archer were granted.
Bolton himself was probably responsible for the layout, which provided an extension of Westbourne Grove westward from Jenkins's land to Portobello Lane. This was known as Archer Street until 1938, when it was renamed as part of Westbourne Grove. There were also two subsidiary parallel streets, Lonsdale Road and Bolton Road. The latter has also disappeared from the map, for it ceased to exist when the Royal Borough of Kensington built the group of flats known as the Portobello Court Estate over the site.
Bolton had commenced operations in this area in 1846, when he had taken a lease of a block of land at the north-western corner of Jenkins's estate, to the north of the east end of Lonsdale Road. (fn. 48) In December he was applying to lay a thousand feet of sewers here, (fn. 49) and in 1847–8 he took leases of two more nearby blocks of land from W. K. Jenkins. (fn. 48) By this time he was also working on Archer's land, (fn. 50) where he had a brickfield, (fn. 51) and had himself built the Earl of Lonsdale public house at the corner of Archer Street (now Westbourne Grove) and Portobello Lane. (fn. 52)
Between 1846 and 1854 he built nineteen houses in this area, an average of little more than two a year. (fn. 27) He was in fact primarily a promoter of building rather than a builder, by far the largest of whom here were George and Edwin Ingersent. They had a combined total of some 110 houses in progress in the three years 1851–3, chiefly in Bolton and Lonsdale Roads and Archer Street, but by 1854 they seem to have been in financial difficulty, and some of their houses were completed by other builders. In the nine years 1846–54 inclusive no other builder had more than a total of twelve houses each here, (fn. 27) but it is worth nothing that two 'contractors' from distant parts of London, Nathaniel Levy of Tavistock Square and John Gould of Shoreditch, were both involved in 1848 in building on the north side of Westbourne Grove, where the mortgagee was the Westbourne Gardens Benefit Building Society. (fn. 53)
Building on the Archer estate was completed by about 1863. The development had been undistinguished, and Bolton Road soon degenerated into a slum. Relatively few of the original houses now survive, many of them having been demolished in recent years to make way for blocks of flats.
The third and last portion of the Ladbroke estate in Kensington consisted of the five acres of ground now occupied by Linden Gardens, Notting Hill Gate. This was in point of time the first part of the estate to be developed, a building agreement being signed in 1822, the year after James Weller Ladbroke had obtained power by a private Act of Parliament (see page 194) to grant ninety-nine-years leases. By this agreement Ladbroke agreed to let the five acres, including the existing mansion known as Hermitage House, to John Dickson of Earl Street, St. John's, Westminister, builder, for ninety-nine years at a rent of £100, rising at Michaelmas 1824 to £160. (fn. 54)
Although not a party to the agreement it is virtually certain that Ladbroke's surveyour, Thomas Allason, was responsible for the layout plan attached to it. This provided for a straight road extending from the centre of the frontage to Notting Hill High Street up the length of the ground to its northern boundary. On the east side of this road the land fronting on to the High Street was already occupied by Hermitage House, to the north of which eight paired houses were to be erected. On the west side of the road a terrace of ten houses was to be built fronting the High Street, and all the land to the north was left vacant, evidently for the large house where Allason himself later lived. (fn. 54)
All except one of the leases granted by Ladbroke between 1824 and 1827 under the terms of this agreement were made to Dickson's nominees. Dickson was therefore evidently responsible for the building work, but Allason probably designed the houses. In 1824 he was Dickson's nominee for the leases of five of the houses in the High Street, all ten of which (Nos. 26–44 even) still survive, though their fronts are now masked by projecting shop fronts. In 1827 he was again Dickson's nominee for the lease of the eight paired houses on the east side of Linden Grove (fn. 55) (as it was known until renamed Linden Gardens in 1877), only four of which (Nos. 38, 38B, 40, 42, Plate 73b) still stand, and in the same year he was also by Dickson's direction the lessee for the capital messuage, stables, gardener's cottage and nearly two acres of ground on the west side. (fn. 56)
Allason lived in this house, known as Linden Lodge (Plate 73a), until 1838–9, when he removed to Connaught Square, Paddington. (fn. 57) The quietness and sence of enclosure of Linden Grove was emphasized by the erection of gates and a lodge at the entrance from the noisy High Street; (fn. 58) the lodge still survives as No.24B Nothing Hill Gate. It was probably this quality of seclusion which attracted two other artists, William Mulready, who lived in the southernmost of the eight paired houses (now demolished) from 1828 until his death in 1863, and Thomas Creswick, who lived at the still surviving No. 42 from 1838 until 1866. In the latter year this house was affected by the building of the Metropolitan Railway. Creswick therefore moved to Mulready's now vacant house, and also, apparently, occupied the adjoining house to the north (with which it formed a pair) until his death in 1869. (fn. 59)
In 1849 Felix Ladbroke sold the freehold of all five acres of Linden Grove to Thomas Allason, subject to the existing leases. (fn. 60) After Allason's death in 1852 the estate was divided among three of his four daughters, (fn. 61) one of whom, Louisa Creswick Allason, subsequently married Arthur Bull, esquire. (fn. 62) It was probably the westward extension of the Metropolitan Railway from Paddington to Notting Hill and thence round to South Kensington in 1864–8 which prompted these new owners to embark upon the redevelopment of the estate. Land values were no doubt rising, the railway passed under part of the curtilage of Linden Lodge, and the possession of a two-acre garden, now overlooked by the houses recently built by the Radfords in Pembridge Gardens and Square, was no longer appropriate to the rapidly changing conditions of Notting Hill Gate in the 1860's.
The redevelopment of all of Linden Grove except the eight paired houses on the east side begain in 1871 and was completed by about 1878, all of the new houses being of the tall narrow terraced variety more commonly to be found in South Kensington. (fn. 63) Arthur Bull's brother Edwin Bull, who was an architect, designed the seven houses and shops which still stand in Notting Hill Gate (Nos. 14–24A even) to the east of Linden Gardens. (fn. 64) He was probably also responsible for the design of the adjoining houses to the north, Nos. 2–32 (even) Linden Gardens, (fn. 65) which stand on the former curtilage of Hermitage House, laterly used as a girls' school. On the western half of the estate, hitherto occupied by Linden Lodge and its grounds, the principal builders, with twenty-eight houses plus stables in 1873–4, were Thomas Goodwin and William White, who had previously been working on the adjoining land in Clanricarde Gardens. (fn. 27) Their capital was supplied by loans totalling £34,450 at 5 per cent interest from the Hand-in-Hand Insurance Society. (fn. 66) The other builders were John Whittlesea (ten houses), George Colls (ten), and G. and G. C. Butt (nine). By 1878 nearly seventy new houses had been built on sites formerly occupied by only ten. (fn. 27) The sole survivors to-day of the original development are Nos. 38–42 Linden Gardens and Nos. 24B–44 Notting Hill Gate.
As has already been mentioned, Nos. 38, 38B, 40 and 42 Linden Gardens were probably designed by Thomas Allason. They are modest detached houses of two storeys, built of stock brick with slate roofs and boldly overhanging eaves, very rural in character, and similar to designs found in typical country-villa pattern books of the 1820's. The large terrace houses which date from the 1870's. now give Linden Gardens a somewhat cavernous appearance, their tall cliffs of ornate façades being far removed from the bosky rural charm of what was once Linden Grove.
The two acres of ground now occupied by Clanricarde Gardens have belonged since 1651 to the Campden Charities, which were established in the seventeenth century by the wills of Baptist Hicks, first Viscount Campden, and Elizabeth his wife, for the benefit of the poor of the parish. The purchase money of £45 needed for the acquisition of this land is said to have been provided by Oliver Cromwell, and this small estate was in consequence sometimes referred to as 'Cromwell's Gift'. (fn. 67) The Campden Charities' other two and much larger estates are in Hyde Park Gate, South Kensington, and in Shepherd's Bush.
In 1786 the trustees of the Campden Charities let the two acres by auction to John Sylvester Dawson for eighty-one years at a rent of £38. Dawson spent over £1,500 on building two new houses and on the repair of the existing brewhouse. But the brewery subsequently fell into decay, and after the trustees had agreed to waive certain of the tenant's obligations to repair in exchange for an increase in rent, the whole property became increasingly dilapidated. (fn. 67) By the middle of the nineteenth century the narrow lane extending up the length of the estate was lined by some seventy small cottages, whose insanitary conditions in 1856 at once attracted the attention of the newly appointed Medical Officer of Health for Kensington. He informed the Vestry that the houses and their privies were in general filthy, the water supply and drainage defective, and the score of pigs kept in the backyards an intolerable nuisance. The Vestry ordered appropriate remedial measures, but two years later the pigs were still there. (fn. 68) Campden Place (as the estate was now known) had, in fact, degenerated into a noisome slum.
When the lease granted in 1786 expired in 1867 the Metropolitan railway line through Notting Hill was in course of construction and the tumbledown cottages of Campden Place had recently acquired grand new neighbours in the adjacent mansions of Pembridge Square and Kensington Palace Gardens. The trustees, who at this time were receiving a rent of £123 per annum, accordingly decided to let the estate again by public auction, and commissioned James Broadbridge, surveyor, to prepare a layout plan. This consisted of one straight street extending from Notting Hill Gate to the backs of the houses in Pembridge Square, to be lined with houses 'of a good Class', and in his report to the trustees Broadbridge recommended that 'it would be very desirable to obtain some builders of position and means who would be prepared to take the whole off the hands of the Trustees and pay a Ground Rent of at least £800 per annum'. (fn. 69)
At the auction, held at the Kensington Vestry Hall on 4 February 1869, the highest bidders were Messrs. Thomas Good win of Notting Hill Square and William White of Cambridge Gardens, Notting Hill, builders, who proffered a rent of £ 1,040 per annum for a term of ninety-nine years. By the building agreement signed on the same day they covenanted to build not less than fiftythree houses, as well as six shops on the frontage to Notting Hill. The houses were to cost at least £1,200 each, and the shops at least £1,000, making a total investment of some £70,000, exclusive of expenditure on the road and sewer. The plans and elevations of the houses were to be prepared by Goodwin and White, but were to be subject to the approval of Broadbridge, the trustees' surveyor, and all building work was to be completed by midsummer 1872. (fn. 67)
This programme was in fact completed by midsummer 1873, when the last three leases were granted to Goodwin and White, (fn. 67) whose building operations were (as previously mentioned) financed in 1872–4 by loans from the Hand-in-Hand Insurance Society. (fn. 66) The pigs, the cottages (and of course their inhabitants) and even the very name, Campden Place, were all swept away, and in Clanricarde Gardens there arose fifty-one tall narrow terraced houses (Plate 73c), plus another six with shops fronting on to Notting Hill Gate, all six storeys in height. It must have been a great success, for (as has been previously noted) Goodwin and White at once went on to more work of almost identical character in Linden Gardens.
Convent of Our Lady of Sion, Chepstow Villas
This building, consisting of four storeys over a basement, with an attic storey, is constructed of dark red bricks, and is situated at the corner of Chepstow Villas and Denbigh Road. It was designed by A. Young in 1892–3, (fn. 70) and is one of the bulkiest buildings in the area, quite foreign to the adjacent stucco-faced houses. The style owes much to Dutch and North German institutional building of the period, the façade being enlivened by carved, moulded and rubbed brickwork. There is a giant order of Ionic pilasters which rise from the first floor to support a simplified entablature with a large stone cornice carried on brackets. A tower of mildly Italianate appearance stands at the south-west corner of the building.
The chapel is a severe and restrained work in the Italian manner of the late eighteenth century. It consists of a four-bay vaulted nave with threebay aisles, and a chancel of one bay. There is a gallery at the liturgical west end which contains the organ.
Baptist Chapel, Westbourne Grove
This building stands at the corner of Westbourne Grove and Ledbury Road and was opened on 5 April 1853. It was designed by C. G. Searle (fn. 71) in a freely treated version of the Early English Gothic style, and consists of a sub-basement (now sealed off), a semi-basement now used as a warehouse and the chapel above. The aisles were widened in 1866.
The symmetrical south front to Westbourne Grove has three lancet lights over a porch flanked by two octagonal towers which were originally capped by spirelets. Each bay of the side walls is pierced by three lancets (lighting the semi-basement), by a pointed arch containing two lancet windows, and by aquatrefoil light. The gables over the aisles and the spirelets on the south front were destroyed by enemy action during the war of 1939–45.
The interior of the chapel is broad and spacious, three bays long, consisting of a nave and tall aisles. There is no clerestory. The wooden arcades are based on the Marian Tudor style, and are carried on cast-iron columns with foliate capitals, which still retain some of the original colouring. Intermediate columns of cast iron support the gallery, added in 1859, which extends round three sides of the building. The north wall of the nave is pierced by a large pointed arch containing the organ within a delicate wooden Gothic case. The pulpit, placed centrally below, is on a dais with cast-iron balustrades, concealing the baptismal pool.
SELECT LIST OF BUILDING LESSORS AND LESSEES IN THE CHEPSTOW VILLAS AND PEMBRIDGE SQUARE AREA
Except where otherwise stated, the dates refer to the years in which the leases were granted: these are not always the date of actual building. Lessors' and lessees' addresses are given only for those resident outside Kensington. Many houses are not included in this list owing to lack of evidence. The chief source is the Middlesex Land Register in the Greater London Record Office at County Hall.
Chepstow Crescent, east side
Chepstow Crescent, west side
Chepstow Place, west side
Chepstow Place, east side
|15, 17||J. W. Ladbroke to George Treadaway of Paddington, draper, 1847.|
|21||Budd to John Lawrence of St. Pancras, carpenter, 1847.|
|23–33 odd||Budd to Treadaway, 1849.|
|51–69 odd||Built by James Herd of Paddington, builder, 1861.|
Chepstow Villas, north side
Chepstow Villas, south side
Dawson Place, north side
Dawson Place, south side
Denbigh Road, west side
|12–24 even||Execs. of W. K. Jenkins by direction of James Hall, builder, to Henry Cullingford, builder, 1853. William Cullingford, builder, also involved.|
Denbigh Road, east side
|9, 11||Built in 1856–9 by J. D. Cowland, builder, W. W. Pocock, architect.|
|17–23 odd||Execs. of Robert Hall to W. Cullingford, 1851.|
|13–26 consec.||Execs. of W. K. Jenkins by direction of James Hall, builder, to various local builders, 1852–5.|
Ledbury Road, east side
|32–36 even||J. W. Ladbroke to William Cullingford, builder, 1846.|
|38||Ladbroke to William Judd, builder, 1846.|
Ledbury Road, west side
|38–42 even||J. W. Ladbroke by direction of John Dickson of Horseferry Road, builder, to Thomas Allason, surveyor, 1827.|
Notting Hill Gate, north side
Pembridge Crescent, east side
Pembridge Crescent, west side
Pembridge Place, east side
|1, 3–9 consec.||Built by James Hall, builder, 1849–1851.|
|2||J. W. Ladbroke to T. W. Budd of Bedford Row, solicitor, to Benjamin Broadbridge of Albany Street, architect, 1846.|
|10||Built by Francis Radford, builder, 1851.|
Pembridge Place, west side
|11, 12||Executors of R. Hall by direction of William Radford, builder, to H. Pook of Old Kent Road, gentleman, 1850.|
|14–18 consec.||Built by James Hall, builder, 1849–1851.|
Pembridge Road, east side
|2–26 even||Built by William Radford and Francis Radford the younger, builders, 1853 onwards.|
|28–34 even||Built by Henry Gilbert, 1854.|
|36–48 even||Built by William Yeo, builder, 1854.|
Pembridge Villas, north-west side
Pembridge Villas, south-east side
Portobello Road, east side
|2–80 even||Most of these houses built under leases from the executors of W. K. Jenkins to William or Henry Cullingford, builders, 1854–8. No.76 demolished.|