Survey of London: Volume 37, Northern Kensington. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1973.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.
CHAPTER VI - Campden Hill Square Area
Among the lands which were sold by (Sir) Walter Cope to Robert Horseman in 1599 (see page 25) was a twenty-acre farm known by the name of Stonehills. In 1618 this farm, which was situated on steeply rising ground to the south of the Uxbridge road (now Holland Park Avenue), was conveyed by Horseman's son to James Necton, who appears to have been a cousin, and Thomas Bedingfield, both of Gray's Inn. The transaction was probably in the nature of a mortgage for Necton and Bedingfield entered into a bond to sell back the land on repayment with interest of the stated purchase price of £455, but the bond was later cancelled and Necton retained the property, Bedingfield relinquishing his interest. (fn. 10) In 1642 John Halsey of Great Gaddesden, Hertfordshire, purchased the freehold reversion of the farm from Necton, and the land remained in the ownership of the Halsey family until it was bought by (Sir) Edward Lloyd in 1750. (fn. 11) Lloyd, who came from Flintshire, was then deputy to the Secretary-at-War. (fn. 12) He was created a baronet in 1778. When he died in 1795, he left his property to his wife for her lifetime and then in an entailed line of descent through his great-nephew Sir Edward Pryce Lloyd, who was later created Baron Mostyn. (fn. 13)
By 1819 the Lloyds wished to dispose of their property in Kensington, and to enable them to sell it they set aside the entail in a series of transactions whereby the land was conveyed to the joint use of Sir Edward Pryce Lloyd and his son and heir, Edward Mostyn Lloyd. (fn. 14) A small piece of copyhold land in the north-east corner of their estate was also freed from entail at the same time, (fn. 15) and a further two and a half acres bordering the turnpike road, which had been formerly part of the waste of the manor of Abbots Kensington and were held on lease from Lord Holland, were purchased in fee simple in 1819. (fn. 16) (fn. 1)
A substantial part of the land was sold in 1820, but the largest portion, consisting of over thirteen acres which was advertised for sale as building ground in that year, (fn. 18) was not disposed of until 1823. It was originally contracted for by Edward Pain, a wax chandler of Soho, but he did not complete the purchase and, with his approval, the land was sold to Joshua Flesher Hanson, a property speculator, in March 1823. (fn. 19) The extent of the Lloyd family's holdings and the various purchasers are shown on fig. 11.
The first building on the site of Aubrey House, and possibly still structurally the core of the present building, was a house attached to a medicinal spring which was discovered in the area and called Kensington Wells. This was completed by 1698 under a fifty-year lease granted to John Wright, a 'Doctor in Physick', John Stone, an apothecary, and two others. (fn. 20) Dr. Benjamin Alien's The Natural History of the Chalybeat and Purging Waters of England, published in 1699, contained an analysis of the water from the spring on account of its 'being made Illustrious by the Town, in which his Majesty hath been pleased to fix his Mansion Palace'. (fn. 21) John Bowack, writing in 1705, said the place was 'much esteem'd and resorted to for its Medicinal Virtues'. (fn. 22) The property passed through several hands until in the 1730's it was held by Jeffrey Gillingham the elder of Hammersmith, a pinmaker. By this time it consisted of various ancillary buildings besides the main house, including a 'large room' and a 'Brew House', although whether still resorted to for its health-giving waters is not known. The elder Jeffrey Gillingham assigned the property to Jeffrey Gillingham the younger, also a pinmaker. (fn. 23) In 1744 the lease was assigned to (Sir) Edward Lloyd, who six years later purchased the freehold from Frederick Halsey together with the rest of Halsey's property in the area. (fn. 24)
It was almost certainly Lloyd who transformed the house into the mansion we recognize today. The evidence of various editions of Rocque's map of the environs of London and his map of Middlesex indicates that wings were added between 1745 and 1754 and the present north front appears to date from about the same period. Although Lloyd was paying rates on the house in 1766 (fn. 25) he was no longer living there early in 1767, when the mansion was occupied by Richard, Lord Grosvenor, later created first Earl Grosvenor.
In June 1767 the house was taken by Lady Mary Coke, the daughter of the second Duke of Argyll, and she lived there until 1788. During her occupancy several alterations were made, but almost entirely to the interior. In 1767–9 a 'Mr. Phillips', probably John Phillips, the master carpenter, undertook several commissions here and in 1774–5 'Mr. Wyatt', probably James Wyatt, whose Pantheon Lady Mary much admired, remodelled a room in the house. (fn. 26) (fn. 2) Little, if anything, has survived of these alterations.
After Lady Mary Coke the house was occupied by a succession of tenants and was used for a time as a school. (fn. 27) By 1819 it was empty and appears to have remained so until 1823, when it was included in the property purchased by Joshua Flesher Hanson from the Lloyds. Hanson himself occupied the house, then known as Notting Hill House, for a short while, but by the end of 1824 he was no longer living there. (fn. 25) In 1827 he sold the house and grounds to Thomas Williams, a former coachmaker, who already held substantial property on the Phillimore estate on lease and had purchased some land from the Lloyds. (fn. 28) Williams paid £3,750 and, in view of Hanson's propensity for building speculation, may have saved the house from demolition. Williams did not live there himself but let the house to Mary and Elizabeth Shepheard, who used it as a boarding-school for young ladies from 1830 until 1854. (fn. 29) He retained the kitchen-garden, however, and built a house on it called Wycombe Lodge (see page 99).
Williams died in 1852 and by his will (fn. 30) ordered that a large part of his property including Notting Hill House should be sold. His executors carried out his wishes in 1859 when James Malcolmson, who lived in Moray Lodge to the south, bought the house for £5,400. (fn. 31) Malcolmson's aim in securing the property seems to have been solely to add part of the garden to that of Moray Lodge and shortly afterwards he let the house, with its grounds somewhat truncated, to Peter Alfred Taylor, M.P. (fn. 32) By this time the mansion was known as Aubrey House, no doubt after Aubrey de Vere, who held the manor of Kensington at the time of the Domesday survey. In 1863, Malcolmson having died, Taylor purchased the house from the trustees of his estate with the appropriated pieces of garden restored. (fn. 33)
Peter Alfred Taylor was M.P. for Leicester from 1862 until 1884 and was a noted champion of radical causes. His wife Clementia was also famous as a philanthropist and champion of women's rights. They were closely involved in the movement for Italian liberation and Mazzini was a frequent visitor to Aubrey House. (fn. 34) In 1873 Taylor sold the house to William Cleverley Alexander, an art collector and patron of Whistler. (fn. 35) (fn. c1)
During the nineteenth century many alterations were made to the house and the interior was considerably remodelled. The wings were altered and extended and at one time a heavy Victorian doorcase was inserted into the north front, now happily replaced with the more appropriate pedimented doorcase which can be seen today. (fn. 3)
Campden Hill Square
Joshua Flesher Hanson, who purchased the largest share of the former Lloyd estate (see fig. 11), was involved in several developments in Kensington. Besides the Campden Hill Square area, he was also active on the Ladbroke estate, in Peel Street, and at Hyde Park Gate. Before moving to Kensington he had promoted the building of Regency Square, Brighton, which was begun in 1818. (fn. 37) No doubt it was this precedent which prompted him to make a similar square the central feature of his plans for the land he had bought from the Lloyds, and many of the techniques he used in Brighton were repeated.
In 1826 a plan showing the layout of an intended square to be called Notting Hill Square was submitted on behalf of Hanson to the Westminster Commission of Sewers by George Edward Valintine, an architect and surveyor with an address at Furnival's Inn. (fn. 38) The basic features of the plan appear to have been derived from Regency Square. In both cases terraced houses were ranged round three sides of a rectangular garden enclosure with a north-south axis, the open side in Brighton being the southern, or sea, end and in Kensington the northern, or turnpike road, end. Similarly, the row of houses on the side opposite to the open end was extended in each case to east and west beyond the building lines of the long north-south sides. These comparable features suggest that the basic concept of Campden Hill Square (its name was changed from Notting Hill Square in 1893) was Hanson's.
Little is known about Valintine besides the fact that he exhibited paintings at the Royal Academy in 1819–21, and the extent of his role in the development of Campden Hill Square is uncertain. He made the application to build the main sewers and submitted the initial requests to lay drains from individual houses in 1826. (fn. 39) He may also have provided designs for some of the first houses to be erected, in particular Nos. 2 and 52, the only double-fronted houses in the square (fig. 12). The first occupant of No. 2 was Hanson himself, who lived there from 1828 until 1830 when he sold the house. (fn. 40) No. 52 was not tenanted until 1831, when Hanson let it on a twenty-one-year lease at a rack rent of £84, but it was apparently originally intended to be let to Valintine, who as early as 1825 had obtained a mortgage on the security of an agreement for a lease of a house which other transactions suggest was to be No. 52; for some reason the lease was never executed. (fn. 41)
Hanson granted some long-term leases, but he also used methods which were less typical of speculations in London. The first houses to be erected were apparently built under contract, and some of these were sold freehold as soon as they had been completed. Many sites were sold before building had commenced, and in these cases the conveyances were accompanied by agreements and covenants binding the purchasers to observe certain stipulations. In this way the sites of Nos. 16–20 were sold in 1826 to Thomas Williams, the coachmaker who was soon to buy Aubrey House, and two years later Williams also purchased the sites of Nos. 15 and 23. (fn. 42) In 1830 all of the sites which had not yet been built on (and some finished houses) were sold to Rice Ives of St. Marylebone, a wine merchant. (fn. 43) After this date the active prosecution of the development passed to Williams and Ives, and Hanson disposed of his remaining interest in Campden Hill Square in 1839 to settle a mortgage debt of £5,000. (fn. 44)
The exact stipulations imposed by Hanson when selling undeveloped parts of the square are not now known, but the gist of them can be deduced from subsequent deeds. An area twenty-five feet deep in front of each house built was to be reserved as a garden, and no shrubs or trees were to be planted there which would grow to a height of more than three feet above the ground floor, nor were any fences to be erected above a similar height. Bow windows were allowed to be built on to the houses provided that they did not project more than three feet beyond the general building line. Above the ground floor the brickwork of the façades was to be left exposed and not covered with stucco or composition. Hanson, on his part, agreed to lay out the garden enclosure, and the owners and occupiers of the houses in the square together with their friends and servants were to have the right to use it on payment of a proportion of the costs of upkeep (see below). There was also reference in several of Ives's subsequent leases to the existence of a 'plan or ground plot' of the square according to which houses were to be built. (fn. 45) These stipulations are similar in many respects to those which accompanied conveyances of houses in Regency Square. (fn. 37)
Rice Ives died in 1832 and left his property in trust for his infant son, also named Rice Ives. (fn. 46) He had taken out a mortgage for £3,000 on his property in Campden Hill Square and by assignment this was vested in John Murdoch and Joseph Venables, hat manufacturers. (fn. 47) By his will, Ives's trustees were empowered to sell any part of his property to settle his debts and they proceeded to sell most of the house sites in the square. The sites for Nos. 9–12 and 42–47 were divided between Murdoch, Venables and their solicitor, Thomas Randall of Holborn. They, in turn, granted conventional long-term building leases of the houses to Christopher Howey, a local builder. (fn. 48) Mortgages entered into by Howey (fn. 49) show that a substantial part of the money for their construction was provided by Murdoch, Venables and Randall themselves. The site of No. 13 and the ground on the south side to the east of No. 15 were purchased by Thomas Williams, (fn. 50) so that when Rice Ives the younger came into his inheritance in 1845 the only parts of the square which remained in his hands were the south side to the west of No. 23, mostly still undeveloped, and two older houses, Nos. 1 and 3, which had also been purchased by his father from Hanson.
The division of the freehold complicated the building history of the square and its development was slow and uneven, spanning a period of twenty-five years from the reign of George IV to that of Victoria. According to the ratebooks fifteen houses (Nos. 1–5, 8, 16–19 and 49–53) had probably been completed by 1830. Five years later Nos. 6–7, I 5 and 20–25 had been added. The remaining houses on the east side (Nos. 9–13) were all occupied by 1840 and those on the west side (Nos. 42–47) by 1842. On the south side No. 14 had been finished by 1841. Nos. 26, 27 and 28 were built after 1845, and a lease of No. 28, which was the last house to be completed before later rebuildings, was not granted until 1851. (fn. 51) No. 18 was rebuilt in 1887–8 to the designs of J. T. Newman, (fn. 52) and Nos. 24–28 were rebuilt after the war of 1939–45 as a result of war damage, at which time Nos. 29 and 30 were added. No. 41, which faces Aubrey Road, although it is numbered in Campden Hill Square, was designed by T. P. Figgis in 1929. (fn. 53) Several of the original houses have been substantially altered. The system of numbering employed for the square is puzzling. The high numbers for houses on the west side were settled by 1835 (fn. 25) but it is difficult to see how a total of fifty-three house sites could have been fitted into the three sides even with the extended south side. In the event, for all of the nineteenth century and part of the twentieth there were no houses to which numbers between 28 and 42 could be assigned.
Although it is not possible to determine the builder of each house in the square, for several were built under contracts which have not survived, the main builder was evidently Christopher Howey. His name can be definitely connected with twenty-one houses (Nos. 5, 6, 9–12, 15, 19, 23–28 and 42–48) and he probably built others; his activity spans the whole building history of the square, for he was involved in the initial building activity in the 1820's and he took a building lease of No. 28 in 1851. (fn. 54) Other builders whose names are known were William Jones and Son of High Street, Kensington (Nos. 4 and 7) and John Robert Butler of Uxbridge Street (No. 20). (fn. 55)
Even the houses with which Howey was associated show considerable variations in detail, and the present somewhat unsatisfactory appearance of the square as an architectural unit is not entirely the result of subsequent alterations. It is difficult to estimate how far Hanson originally planned a uniform composition, for even in Regency Square, Brighton, which presents superficially a more unified treatment, there are differences in detail between groups of houses. The surviving pilasters on the much altered Nos. 19 and 20 in the centre of the south side of Campden Hill Square suggest that, together with the now rebuilt No. 18, the façades of these houses may have been treated as one architectural unit similar to that in the centre of the north side of Regency Square. The sites for these houses were sold by Hanson before building began, however, and they were not all by the same builder, or, apparently, completed at the same time, which suggests that they may have been built to an existing design. There is also a suggestion of symmetry in the comparison of Nos. 1 and 2 on the east side with Nos. 52 and 53 on the west, but the remaining houses vary widely and reflect the long period over which the square was built and the lack of central control which the dispersal of the freehold made inevitable, despite the covenants insisted on by Hanson. It may be significant that the square was begun at a time of financial depression for the building industry, and the difficulty of securing capital was probably a factor in preventing the rapid completion of the development.
Such homogeneity as does exist is achieved by similar materials, proportions and scale. The houses are generally of three storeys with, in some cases, basements, and have stock-brick façades, mostly rendered on the ground floors, rising to simple stone or stucco copings on the parapets. Some houses have cast-iron balconies set above the top string of the rendering, and there are fanlights over the doors, especially elegant in Nos. 2, 4, 5, 6 and 15. On the west side some attempts were made by the introduction of stucco architraves around the window openings to provide fashionable Italianate detail. No. 52 is perhaps the most architecturally distinguished individual house. It is double-fronted with slightly projecting bays and a Doric porch. The same bay design, an unusual rectangular projection with curved corners set back, is also found at No. 2, the other double-fronted house, and at Nos. 50 and 51, which are single-fronted. Despite the lack of architectural unity in the square, an exceedingly picturesque effect is created by the combination of the mature trees, the mellow brickwork of the house fronts stepping sharply down the hill and the attractive ironwork in the railings and gates of the central garden (Plate 42c, 42d).
For the upkeep of the garden enclosure in the centre, Hanson established a five-man committee, consisting of four members who were to be elected by residents of the square and he himself as a life-member. All lessees or purchasers of houses were required to pay a proportionate share of the expenses. One of the prominent early members of the committee and for many years its treasurer was Stephen Garrard, a lawyer who lived at No. 18 from 1828 until 1853 and who was professionally involved in several of the property transactions of both Hanson and Thomas Williams. He was subsequently concerned in the development of Pembridge Square and Pembridge Gardens (see page 262). Hanson appears to have taken no part in the committee's proceedings after 1832, and until the 1860's it only consisted of four persons. (fn. 56)
Nos. 11–27 (odd) Holland Park Avenue
The site on which No. 11 Holland Park Avenue (Linton House) stands was at the eastern edge of the property Hanson purchased from the Lloyds. In 1830 he sold the plot to the Reverend Hibbert Binney of Paddington, (fn. 57) who built a detached house on it known as Mound House. In 1877 a preparatory school called Linton House School was established there, the house itself being used as the headmaster's residence and new school buildings erected in the garden at the rear. (fn. 58) The present Linton House, a block of flats designed by T. P. Bennett and Son, replaced the school in c. 1936. (fn. 59)
The remaining frontage of Hanson's property along the turnpike road was developed in conjunction with Campden Hill Square. Two terraces of four houses each were built, forming in effect short return wings to the square. Both were substantially completed by 1830, (fn. 25) although many of the houses have since undergone considerable alterations or possibly rebuildings.
Nos. 23–27 (odd) Holland Park Avenue (Plate 43a) form an architectural group similar to Nos. 2–6 (even) and 24–28 (even) on the north side of the street, which were built as part of Hanson's development on the Ladbroke estate. The main differences are that the group consisting of Nos. 23–27 is nine windows wide rather than seven, the giant unfluted tetrastyle Doric order of the central house (No. 25) is not in antis, and the columns are slightly more slender. There is also a difference in the treatment of the attic storey and the crowning pediment. A ninety-nine-year lease of Nos. 23–27 was granted by Hanson to James Clift, a solicitor, in 1827, (fn. 60) and the date 1829 inscribed in Roman letters on the entablature of No. 25 probably indicates the year in which the fa¸ades were completed; all three houses were occupied by 1831. (fn. 25) Robert Cantwell, who was later surveyor to the Norland estate, is associated with the two groups on the north side of the road (see page 197), and it is significant that he was living in the house which is now numbered 21 Holland Park Avenue in 1830–1. (fn. 25)
Aubrey Road and No. 29 Holland Park Avenue
Aubrey Road (Plate 43c) was laid out primarily as a service road for the houses on the west side of Campden Hill Square and was not given its name until the 1840's. In 1826 Hanson granted a ninety-nine-year lease of a 'cottage' on the west side of the road (now No. 7 Aubrey Road) to Richard Lovekin of Cold Bath Square, a victualler, (fn. 61) (fn. 4) but the remaining land between the cottage and Aubrey House (or Notting Hill House as it was then called) remained undeveloped until it was sold by Hanson in 1841 to James Hora, a surgeon. (fn. 62) This was the last piece to remain in Hanson's hands of all the property he had purchased from the Lloyd family in 1823.
Hora died shortly afterwards and his wife and eldest son, as trustees under his will, (fn. 63) employed Henry Wyatt, an architect, (fn. 5) to develop the property. A plot to the north of the front garden of Notting Hill House was already on lease to Mary and Elizabeth Shepheard, the lessees of the mansion, and could not be used immediately, but on the remaining land Wyatt built six 'Gothic' villas between 1843 and 1847 under ninety-nine-year leases. (fn. 65) Now Nos. 1–6 (consec.) Aubrey Road, these were originally called Aubrey Villas. No. 4 is the best preserved, although No. 6 has an ornate bargeboard and No. 2 still has some Perpendicular windows. The rest have been considerably altered and No. I was refronted in c. 1913. (fn. 66) No. 6A was added in the 1960's. Aubrey Lodge was built in 1861–3 by George Drew of Rosedale Villas, Notting Hill, (fn. 67) on the piece of ground formerly let to the Shepheard sisters, but it has since been substantially altered and has lost the cornices and stringcourses from the front elevation.
The most remarkable house in Aubrey Road was Tower Cressy, built in 1852–3 for Thomas Page, the engineer who designed Westminster Bridge. The site was part of the property Hanson had sold to Rice Ives in 1830 and was purchased by Page in 1854, after his house had been erected, together with the freeholds of Nos. 24–28 Campden Hill Square, from Rice Ives the younger. The tall structure dominated its surroundings until it was damaged during the war of 1939–45 and demolished shortly afterwards. The builder was John Cowland of Portland Road. (fn. 68)
The site on which No. 29 Holland Park Avenue stands had never formed part of the Lloyd family's property but consisted of a small triangular piece of land to the east of Holland Walk which was part of the Holland estate (see fig. 15). This accounts for both the irregular shape of the house and the constricted entrance to Aubrey Road. For several years the ground was let to the occupant of No. 7 Aubrey Road for use as a garden, but in 1851 Lord Holland granted a ninety-year lease to Nathaniel Dando of No. 6 Aubrey Road which allowed him to build a house to the value of £800. The house, which was not, in fact, erected until 1863, is double-fronted with segmental bays that rise from the basement to second-floor level and are enriched with balustrades of stucco. The upper three floors are of brick, with stucco quoins and a modillioned cornice. The builder was George Drew. (fn. 69)
Formerly an approach road to Aubrey House, Aubrey Walk was originally called Notting Hill Grove and was given its present name in 1893. When Campden Hill Square was laid out the sites of the houses on the south side of the square extended as far as Aubrey Walk and several coach-houses and stables were built on the north side of the road. Towards the end of the century most of these were converted into, or replaced by, studio residences. Of these, No. 26 is a four-storey composition of eclectic elements having open stairs, arcades of red brick and large studio windows. It was originally built in 1888 to the designs of J. T. Newman (fn. 52) as a stable and coach-house combined with a studio at the rear of the rebuilt No 18 Campden Hill Square, but has since undergone some alterations.
Nos. 2–6 (even) Aubrey Walk, which are three-storey Georgian houses of stock brick with stuccoed ground storeys, were built on land purchased by Hanson. No. 6 was the first to be completed under a ninety-nine-year lease granted by Hanson to John Edward Cowmeadow, a coal merchant, in 1826. Cowmeadow took the house for his own occupation and was living there by 1827. He was also the lessee of Nos. 2 and 4, for which Hanson granted him a similar lease in 1829; they were finished by the following year. (fn. 60) Cowmeadow's venture into the field of property was clearly not made from a position of financial security for in 1831 he was excused from paying rates 'on Account of numerous Family and his wife now Lying-in'; later in the year the rate collector noted 'Family in great distress'. (fn. 25)
Hillsleigh Road (known as New Road until 1910) was formed on the east side of Campden Hill Square partly to serve the same function as Aubrey Road on the west, i.e. to provide access to stables and coach-houses at the rear of houses in the square (Plate 43d). A strip of land about fifty-five feet wide was, however, left between the eastern side of the road and the boundary of Hanson's land, and on this three houses were built under leases granted to John Ogle, esquire, in 1829. (fn. 71) Two of these, No. 19 (Ness Cottage) and the much-altered No. 20, have survived. The site of the third is now occupied by Nos. 17 and 18, originally built as one house in 1897–8. (fn. 72) An addition made to No. 20 in 1902 to the designs of W. Hargreaves Raffles recalls the work of C. F. A. Voysey in its white rendered exterior, low casements, and canopied entrance door in Campden Hill Place. (fn. 73)
Although numbered in Hillsleigh Road, Hill Lodge (No. 14) is really situated on the south side of Campden Hill Square. Its site was purchased by Thomas Williams in 1839 (see page 91) and the house was completed by 1842. The builder was John Brunning of Gray's Inn Road. (fn. 74) The house has been much altered, but still possesses stucco pilaster strips, at the top of which brackets carry wide eaves. The north front is symmetrical, with a central segmental bow front and moulded architraves.
Campden Hill Place and Nos. 1–9 (odd) Holland Park Avenue
Thomas Brace, who paid £1,200 for the property which he purchased from the Lloyds in 1820 (see fig. 11), (fn. 75) was a partner in the legal firm of Brace and Selby of Surrey Street, Strand. Two houses were standing on the land, one, which he took for his own occupation, on the site of No. 3 Campden Hill Place, and the other on the site of No. 1 Holland Park Avenue. The latter appears to have been rebuilt in 1820–1 and called Rose Bank, while another house, No. 3 Holland Park Avenue (originally called Ivy Bank), was erected at the same time. (fn. 25) (fn. 6)
Brace died in 1836 or 1837 and by his will instructed that his property in Kensington should be sold whenever his trustees 'shall think fit' and the proceeds divided between his four children. (fn. 76) His trustees and executors were his two eldest sons, George and Thomas, who carried on their father's business, and Robert Hodson of Oxford Street, gentleman. They decided to develop the property and by 1843 the house Brace had occupied had been demolished and plans drawn up by Mortimore Timpson, a St. Pancras builder, who was also involved in the development of the Norland estate. (fn. 77) Three houses facing the Uxbridge road and a terrace of nine houses on the east side of a private cul-de-sac were envisaged. Timpson built the houses facing the Uxbridge road, now Nos. 5–9 (odd) Holland Park Avenue, under leases granted in December 1843, (fn. 78) but, apart from the formation of the private road, the rest of the development was not carried out.
Brace's third son, Edward, who was a captain in the service of the East India Company, eventually acquired Campden Hill Place from his father's trustees (fn. 79) and had three detached houses built on the east side instead of the nine originally planned. No. 1 (South Bank Lodge) was begun in 1851 for Frederick Wehnert, an architect who was shortly to enter into a flourishing partnership with John Ashdown. (fn. 80) Wehnert was granted an eighty-five-year lease by Edward Brace in 1852, and presumably designed his own house, (fn. 7) which is an asymmetrical Gothic villa consisting of two storeys over a basement. The builders were Messrs. Thomas and Son of Bloomsbury. (fn. 82) Nos. 2 and 3 Campden Hill Place (Plate 43b), which are two-storeyed double-fronted villas in an Italianate style, were not built until 1862, when Edward Brace granted leases for seventy-five and three-quarter years (to bring their terms into line with that for No. 1) to the local builder George Drew; Thomas Brace the younger was Drew's mortgagee. (fn. 83)
Campden Hill Gardens, Nos. 101–111 (odd) Campden Hill Road and Nos. 147–155 (odd) Notting Hill Gate
Evan Evans, who bought the second largest share of the Lloyd estate (see fig. 11), was formerly a grocer in New Bond Street but had lived for some years in a house standing on copyhold land at the north-west corner of Plough Lane (now Campden Hill Road). His purchase included a large house with extensive grounds called Wycombe House, which appears to have dated back to at least the mid eighteenth century and may have originally been the farmhouse of Stonehills farm. (fn. 84)
Evan Evans died in 1825 and left his property in trust for his great-nephew Robert Evans, whose father was carrying on the family grocery business. When Robert Evans came into his inheritance in 1828 he was also described as a grocer of New Bond Street. (fn. 85)
Apart from the sale of the site of St. George's Church to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1863 (see below) Robert Evans did not exploit the potential value of his land as a site for speculative building until 1869. What may have prompted him then, besides the existence of the newly built church, was a decision by the Kensington Vestry to widen Plough Lane. This necessitated the demolition of Evan Evans's former house and opened up the opportunity for building along the frontages of the newly widened road and High Street, Notting Hill. By August 1869 plans had also been drawn up for building on the site of Wycombe House (fn. 8)and grounds. (fn. 86) In May 1870 Evans secured the enfranchisement of his copyhold from Lady Holland (fn. 87) and building proceeded rapidly.
The house plot at the corner of Campden Hill Road (the name was changed as soon as road widening had been completed) and High Street, Notting Hill was sold to Richard Swain, the occupant of the house which had been demolished. (fn. 9) The present building comprising No. 111 Campden Hill Road and No. 147 Notting Hill Gate (the name was changed from High Street, Notting Hill in 1935) was erected there in 1870. Although the firm of Temple and Foster was involved in its construction, (fn. 89) the building is similar to Nos. 149–159 (odd) Notting Hill Gate, which were built under ninety-nine-year leases granted by Evans in September 1870 to John Reeves of Kensington Park Road and George Butt of Ladbroke Road, both builders. Reeves was the lessee of Nos. 149–153 and Butt of Nos. 155–159, but the houses were built by them in partnership. (fn. 90) At £25 per annum, the ground rent for each house was somewhat high, no doubt reflecting the fact that shops were provided on the ground floors. These were the only houses built under direct lease from Evans. Nos. 157 and 159 have been demolished as a result of war damage.
In 1871, when building was under way both on the west side of Campden Hill Road and in Campden Hill Gardens, Evans sold the freehold of the rest of his property. (fn. 91) Reeves and Butt were consenting parties to all of the transactions involved and had probably initially contracted with Evans to undertake the whole speculation. The short terrace on the west side of Campden Hill Road, Nos. 101–109 (odd), was sold to George Butt together with Nos. 1 and 2 Campden Hill Gardens; all seven houses were already under construction. Butt was also the purchaser of the sites of Nos. 22–26 (even) Campden Hill Gardens.
Nos. 4–18 (even) Campden Hill Gardens were sold jointly to William Childerhouse of Paddington, a builder, and Jonathan Pearson of High Street, Notting Hill, a wholesale ironmonger, who were acting in partnership as builders of these houses. (fn. 72) The site of No. 20 was originally purchased by Butt, who later conveyed it to Childerhouse and Pearson. (fn. 92) They had originally planned to use the site for the erection of the end house of a terraced range of five and had begun building operations there as early as 1870, but they were forced to stop when the owner of Ness Cottage in Hillsleigh Road brought a successful action against them for loss of light and air. Eventually a low building containing two studios was built c. 1895. (fn. 93)
The remaining ground in Campden Hill Gardens, as yet unbuilt on, was sold to Jeremiah Little, the builder who had been responsible for several developments in Kensington. Little, who died in 1873, left the actual building operations to his son Alfred James Little, who, between 1871 and 1874, completed Campden Hill Gardens by the erection of sixteen double-fronted houses, Nos. 28–36 (even) and Nos. 5–25 (odd), mostly under ninety-year leases granted by his father. (fn. 94) Nos. 32 and 34 have since been demolished as a result of war damage.
The double-fronted houses in Campden Hill Gardens built by Alfred James Little are of three storeys over basements, symmetrically composed, with three-sided bay windows of ornamental stucco. They have dentilled cornices of stucco over what are essentially brick fa¸ades, with urns surmounting the party walls above the entablatures. Apart from these houses Campden Hill Gardens consists of tall terraces of stock brick with much stucco enrichment, including richly moulded cornices and stucco bay windows, all somewhat coarsely proportioned and detailed.
The Church of St. George, Aubrey Walk
In 1862 Archdeacon Sinclair, the vicar of St. Mary Abbots, sought the general approval of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and the Bishop of London for a new ecclesiastical district, to be formed partly out of the district assigned to St. Mary Abbots and partly out of that of St. John's, Notting Hill. In this he had the support of the Reverend J. P. Gell, the incumbent of St. John's. One of the principal considerations Sinclair put forward in support of his contention that a new church was needed was that large-scale building operations were being undertaken by William and Francis Radford at the north end of Holland Park. His first choice for a site was close to this development but the Radfords and Lady Holland could not agree on a location, and early in 1863 he entered into negotiations for the purchase of the land on which the church now stands. This was on the property of Robert Evans, whose great-uncle had purchased it from the Lloyd family (see fig. 11), and was then part of the garden of Wycombe (Wickham) House. A formal conveyance of a piece of ground measuring 130 feet by 90 feet was made to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners on 8 December 1863. £455 was paid to Robert Evans for the freehold and £350 for the existing leasehold interest. (fn. 93)
The church was built at the expense of John Bennett of Westbourne Park Villas, evidently to provide a living for his son George, who was the first incumbent. The first stone was laid in February 1864. E. Bassett Keeling was the architect, and the general contractors were George Myers and Sons of Lambeth. The extensive ornamental ironwork was made by Hart and Sons of Wych Street. The Building News estimated that the total cost, including the fittings and the architect's fee of £500, was about £9,000. (fn. 96) (fn. c2)
The new church, which had been designed to seat 1,200, was consecrated on 23 November 1864. The consolidated chapelry which was assigned to it in May 1865 stretched from the newly built villas of the Radfords on the west to the artisans' houses on either side of the northern end of Kensington Church Street on the east. The patronage was originally vested in John Bennett and was transferred to the Bishop of London in 1907. (fn. 97)
St. George's is orientated north-south, so that the tower is on the south-east corner of the building. The exterior of the church, like that of St. Mark's, Notting Hill, is strange and wilful, in a style which The Building News called 'continental Gothic, freely treated'. In the centre of the gabled 'west' front is a large pointed arch. Within this is a circular opening, containing a deeply recessed quatrefoil window, above two lancet arches, each containing two lancet lights surmounted by a small quatrefoil light. The stonework between the openings is embellished with carved capitals and mouldings. This complex central feature is flanked by side windows, partly concealed by the roof of the large cloistered porch which provides the principal entrance to the church. Five steeply pointed arched openings, with massive dwarf columns and carved capitals, pierce the south wall of the porch, entry to which is gained through pointed arches at its east and west ends. The roof was originally of blue slates and red tiles in bands.
The tower, until recently surmounted by a spire, is the sole survivor of the trio which originally stood on Campden Hill, the other two being the water tower and Tower Cressy, both now demolished. It has no buttresses, and is faced with stone in random courses, Bath stone quoins and dressings, and bands of red sandstone. It is lighted by stepped lancets on the lowest stage which clearly indicate the presence of the gallery stair within the tower-a device much favoured by Bassett Keeling. There are triple lancets with columns and foliated capitals on the second stage, somewhat similar to those of St. Mark's, Notting Hill, and paired lancets on the top stage, again with columns and carved capitals. The original broach spire, which was covered with slate in bands and ornamented with lucarnes, was removed as a result of damage sustained in the war of 1939–45 and replaced by a pyramidal copper cap in 1949 under the direction of Milner and Craze. (fn. 98)
The external cloistered porch gives access to three doors that open into the nave. The plan of the church (fig. 13) is cruciform, with nave, aisles, transepts, and originally a doubly recessed apsidal chancel. The chapel on the liturgical south side of the chancel was connected with the transept. The vestry was on the liturgical north side of the chancel with the organ chamber above. The gallery stretched round from the 'south' to the 'north' transept, leaving an open space around the organ and pulpit. There was much contemporary objection to galleries, as they were thought to detract from the architectural effect, so Bassett Keeling gave special consideration to the form of the open framing of the fronts (fig. 14). To the contemporary writer, William Pepperell, who thought the interior of the church was 'exceedingly beautiful and original', the gallery was 'suggestive of a conventional ship's side with the ports complete', not an adverse criticism if we consider the elegance of a nineteenth-century wooden ship. The gallery fronts were regarded as being 'very graceful', and yet 'sufficiently angular to be quite in keeping with the style of the church', (fn. 99) but they have been removed except for the portion in the 'west' end of the church. The framing of the ceilings formed by the gallery floors was stained and varnished, dividing the plastering into panels the width of the pews above, so expressing the disposition of seats.
The nave arcading, built with stone springers, keys and corbels, has arches of red and black brick voussoirs, notched at the arrises, carried on castiron columns formerly exposed and decorated in strong poly chrome. The interior of the church was faced with yellow stocks relieved with blue, red and black bricks, and Bath and red Mansfield stone. The seventeen-foot-high columns rested on brick and stone bases, and the gallery principals were attached to them, about half way up, by wrought-iron bands carried on cast-iron haunches. A group of three columns takes the thrust of the large transept arches, the springing blocks being received in cast-iron dishes forming the now concealed abaci of the capitals. William Pepperell could think of no church where iron was better treated, for the detail was 'sharp and clean', and the columns, somewhat Moorish in appearance, did not seem so slender as to look 'unequal to their task of supporting the brick arches and clerestorey'. He particularly admired the nave roof with its 'saw-tooth cut and intersecting ribs'. His comments show how necessary the gallery was as an aesthetic and structural tie between the columns of the nave.
Contemporary critics noted Bassett Keeling's originality, and some approved of the picturesque effects. The Building News pronounced St. George's to be one of the most successful attempts of the 'modern school of Eclectic Gothic, and though perhaps a little free in treatment, evidences an appreciation of . . . continental Gothic which is not too common'.
In 1885 a richly sculptured reredos was erected, occupying three sides of the apse which had been newly decorated. The reredos itself, by Forsyth, was thirteen feet high in the centre, and had three cusped Gothic arches enclosing representations of the Crucifixion, St. Michael and St. George (Plate 17b). (fn. 100)
St. George's, like St. Mark's, Notting Hill, is an expression of that aggressive and somewhat barbarous style which Bassett Keeling evolved. The originality of thought which is very evident in his work is especially apparent in his use of colour, and the bold polychrome must once have been a tour de force of interior design.
As a result of a series of alterations beginning in the late nineteenth century, the highly personal character of the church has been lost, although its remains may just be discerned in what is left. The brickwork has been whitened, and the black and blue bricks have been painted over; the cast-iron columns have been cased-in to make them resemble stone piers, and the apse, which had glass by Lavers and Barraud (Plate 17b), has been demolished. The nave arcades, the jagged saw-toothed nave principals, and the west gallery front are the only surviving parts with Bassett Keeling's personal style still discernible.
Grand Junction Water Works Company Site
Thomas Williams and Sir James McGrigor, who in 1820 bought the two adjoining parcels of land indicated on fig. 11, (fn. 101) were both living in large houses which had recently been erected on the Phillimore estate immediately to the south (see page 70). In each case the plots which they purchased from the Lloyds were used as extensions to the grounds of those houses. When Williams also acquired Aubrey House in 1827 he separated off its kitchen garden, which lay immediately to the west of the piece of land he had secured from the Lloyds and to the north of part of his leasehold holdings on the Phillimore estate. On the site he built a substantial house called Wycombe Lodge, which was completed by 1829 when the first occupant, the Dowager Marchioness of Lansdowne, took up residence. (fn. 25)
In 1843 Sir James McGrigor, who had moved to Harley Street, wanted to sell his property, and the Grand Junction Water Works Company, which was looking for a high-level site for a reservoir, agreed to purchase it for £6,500. Although only the freehold part of McGrigor's land was needed for a reservior, the company also had to acquire his leasehold house and garden on the Phillimore estate. From 1859 until 1877 this was occupied by Alexander Fraser, who was firstly assistant engineer and later engineer to the company. The reservior, which was completed by 1845, is no longer in use and its site is now (1972) being built over. (fn. 102)
Under the provisions of the Metropolis Water Act of 1852 all reservoirs within five miles of St. Paul's Cathedral had to be covered, and when the company undertook the necessary work at Campden Hill in 1857–8 it also expanded its facilities by building a pumping station and tower (Plate 36a). The contractor for the work was John Aird of Southwark and the designs were provided by Alexander Fraser. Although Joseph Quick, who was consulting engineer to the company, was given the credit for the designs in the journals of the day, his role seems to have been confined to supervising the work of Fraser. (fn. 103) the brick-built tower with its spare Italianate ornament was a conspicuous feature of the district for over a century, and even when first built it was well received. The Companion to the Almanac for 1858 thought that the works of the Grand Junction Water Works Company were especially worthy of notice 'from their having added a conspicuous architectural feature. . . in the shape of a not inelegant tower'. The Building News thought that all the buildings 'admirably express the massive solidity of purpose for which they are specially adapted'. (fn. 104). The tower was demolished in 1970.
In 1868 the company extended its premises to the west by purchasing the land which Thomas Williams had bought from the Lloyd family and the former kitchen garden of Aubrey House on which Wycombe Lodge then stood. Both plots were owned by Charles Magniac, who had purchased them from Williams's executors in 1866. As in the case of the land which it had secured in 1843, the company had to take an assignment of some leasehold land on the Phillimore estate.
This was a plot which had been leased to Williams in 1817 and was used as an extensive garden for Wycombe Lodge. The company paid Magniac £12,000 and also had to pay another £4,500 to buy out the current occupants who held the property under leases granted by Williams. Wycombe Lodge was demolished and additional covered reservoirs were built by John Aird and Sons on the newly acquired freehold land in 1868–9. (fn. 105) The covered top of the reservoir is now used as tennis courts and the leasehold property, which the company was unable to use for permanent works, was added to the garden of Moray Lodge and now forms part of the site of Holland Park School. In 1904 the freehold property of the Grand Junction Water Works Company was acquired by the Metropolitan Water Board when it took over the company's undertakings.