Survey of London: Volume 42, Kensington Square To Earl's Court. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1986.
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CHAPTER VIII - Kensington New Town
Kensington New Town is a name in only limited current use. Today it refers loosely to a fashionable district of predominantly stuccoed housing South of Kensington Road, west of Palace Gate and Gloucester Road and north of Cornwall Gardens. The early-Victorian pattern and character of this district derive from the history of two estates, which are called in the ensuing account by the names of their freehold owners at the time of their main building development. To the east is the compact Inderwick estate of six and a half acres, covering the area of Victoria Grove, Launceston Place, the west side of Gloucester Road between Kynance Place and Canning Place, and the south side of Canning Place. Built up neatly and efficiently between 1837 and about 1843, this was the area originally denominated Kensington New Town, a name first encountered in 1841. (fn. 1) Further west is the larger and more complex Vallotton estate, developed chiefly from the 1840s onwards. It is centred upon two north-south roads, Victoria Road and Standford Road. For convenience, some smaller properties in the neighbourhood with separate early histories are discussed in conjunction with the Vallotton estate.
The Inderwick Estate
The six and a half acres of freehold land (fig. 47) now occupied by Victoria Grove, Launceston Place, Nos. 2–72 (even) Gloucester Road and Nos. 1–13 (consec.) Canning Place were formerly part of the copyhold lands of the manor of Earl's Court, and known as Tower or Towney Mead. (fn. 2) With the exception of about a quarter of an acre with a cottage at the north-west corner (now the site of Nos. 15–17 Victoria Grove and Nos. 11–13 Canning Place), which remained in copyhold tenure until 1844, the land was enfranchised in 1828, when Samuel Hutchins, already freeholder of the ‘Abingdon-Scarsdale’ district further west, bought the land, then a single field of pasture, from Lord Kensington, the lord of the manor. (fn. 3)
In August 1836 Hutchins sold the freehold estate (and probably also the copyhold cottage) to John Inderwick of Princes (now Wardour) Street, Leicester Square. (fn. 4) Inderwick (1785–1867), variously described as optician or ivory turner, and latterly as an importer of meerschaum pipes and snuff boxes, had been in business since at least 1811 and had probably already accumulated a handsome capital. (fn. 5) In his later life he indulged in several small building speculations, apparently without financial mishap. His Kensington New Town venture and its successor and neighbour to the east of Gloucester Road, Kensington Gate (1849–52), described in volume XXXVIII of the Survey of London, were the most important of these. (fn. 6) But his will mentions also a small freehold off the lower part of Haverstock Hill, St. Pancras, and a number of leaseholds in Camden Town and Woolwich, besides odd scattered properties in the West End and elsewhere. (fn. 7) In addition Inderwick, who acted sporadically as a ‘builder’ in his own right, was responsible for a few houses on the Vallotton estate next to his own and on the future site of De Vere Gardens (pages 121, 141, 146). At his death he was worth nearly £100,000. (fn. 8) His firm, Inderwick and Company, tobacconists, survives in Carnaby Street to the present day.
In 1836 development had been for some time planned on the adjoining Vallotton estate to the west of Inderwick's, but after completion of the first few houses in Victoria Road, building had ground to a halt (page 139). Inderwick, by contrast, lost little time in laying out his land, as a tablet formerly attached to the wall of No. 23 Launceston Place attested: ‘First brick laid on this estate at 3 Canning Place, Feby 1837. The last at this cottage June 1843.’ (fn. 9)
The layout of the estate was probably drawn up by Joel Bray, an architect of St. Martin's Lane, who was acting as Inderwick's surveyor. Bray (1787–1846) is a typically obscure example of the many architect-surveyors collectively responsible for shaping London's suburban growth in the wake of Nash's Regency innovations. In later life he was a Chelsea resident and had at least a small hand in the development of Whitehead's Grove; this and a few other minor property interests amount to almost all that is known of him. (fn. 10)
Bray's signature appears on a layout plan submitted to the Commissioners of Sewers in 1839 in connection with a scheme for the estate's drainage. (fn. 11) The disposition of the roads adheres closely to the former pattern of paths and tracks across the estate: both Victoria Grove and Launceston Place follow the line of paths from Kensington to Brompton, and Canning Place is on the site of a track from Gloucester Road to Love Lane. This sewer plan shows that Bray had divided the land into 123 building plots: thirty-six in Gloucester Road, twenty-two in Victoria Grove, ten in Canning Place and fifty-five in Launceston Place. By 1840 the number of plots in Launceston Place had been reduced to thirty-five and finally became thirty-four, and in 1841 an extra house was added to the north side of Victoria Grove. No building was at first planned for the site of the old copyhold cottage and garden, where Nos. 15–17 Victoria Grove and Nos. 11–13 Canning Place now stand. The building sites were not intended to be occupied only by houses; a number were earmarked for shops and at least one public house. This development of what a modern planner might term a ‘neighbourhood unit’ not entirely dependent on the old village probably gave rise to the name Kensington New Town.
One of the most attractive features of the estate is the variety of architectural treatment (Plates 50– 52); each street has a distinctive house-type, yet there are elements of uniformity which suggest a common authorship and firm ‘development control’. Stuccoed fronts, minor projections and recessions, unapologetic roofs with deep caves, roundheaded windows and flat Greco-Italian detailing intimate a designer of some thoughtfulness and ability. Bray, the only architect definitely associated with the estate, is the likeliest candidate. When Inderwick undertook the building of Kensington Gate in 1849–50, it is known that he engaged just one man to prepare the layout, design the houses and act as clerk of works as well. (fn. 6)
The building was undertaken partly by Inderwick himself and partly by agreements with other builders. For the majority of the houses on the estate there are no building leases and, where there are, the lessee is not always the builder who undertook the agreement. In the normal way, some leases were granted to building tradesmen at the request of the builder, often in lieu of payment for work
Only one difficulty appears to have impeded the estate's smooth development. This was the drainage. Inderwick anticipated draining his houses into a new sewer to be built down Gloucester Road, and was prepared in 1831 to contribute to its cost. The Commissioners of Sewers, opining that Inderwick was the only landowner thus benefited and wishing him to pay for the whole, demurred from this arrangement and the new ‘line’ thus lapsed. Inderwick was driven to temporary measures, constructing a large open cesspool at the south-east corner of the property (where Kynance Place now debouches into Gloucester Road). (fn. 12) In 1843 there was talk of draining some houses into H. L. Vallotton's new sewer in Victoria Road, while in the next year the inadequacy of the arrangements was highlighted by the condition of No. 18 Victoria Grove, where ‘the water and soil had risen half way up the joists of the kitchen floor’. (fn. 13) Some relief arrived in 1849, when Inderwick built better sewers of his own, but the new official sewer in Gloucester Road had to await the 1860s, when the Metropolitan Board of Works constructed a new line to serve Palace Gate and Cornwall Gardens. (fn. 14)
Building started in Canning Place in 1837, with a range of ten houses, eight in the form of linked and stuccoed pairs in a polite, minimal-Italianate style (Plate 50b, fig. 48) with two taller, narrower houses at the ends. Originally they overlooked open ground to the north. Nos. 1–5 (consec.) were built by Inderwick with at least some participation by John Robert Butler of Notting Hill, builder, and leased on short term. Nos. 6–10 (consec.) were undertaken by George Hinton, a builder who was one of Inderwick's neighbours in Princes Street, Leicester Square; he received seventy-year leases from March 1838 for these houses. (fn. 15) By April 1838 three houses had residents and by the end of 1839 all ten were occupied. (fn. 16) Nos. 11–13 seem to have been built by Inderwick in about 1850 on the northern part of the site of the old copyhold cottage and garden, whose enfranchisement Inderwick had secured in 1844. (fn. 16) They make up a short, three-storey stuccoed range with slightly richer details than their neighbours.
Gloucester Terrace and St. George's Terrace, Gloucester Road
Where the estate fronted on to Gloucester Road the houses were laid out in two terraces: Gloucester Terrace to the north of Victoria Grove, and St. George's Terrace to the south. Only Gloucester Terrace, now Nos. 2–34 (even) Gloucester Road, survives in full (Plate 50a). It is a stucco terrace, arranged with a symmetry which must have looked smart on the architect's drawing-board but is quite indiscernible to the passer-by; the ten houses in the middle are gently recessed and Ionic pilasters adorn the two central ones, which originally bore the name Gloucester Terrace in the frieze. As in Canning Place, half the houses (Nos. 18–34) were undertaken directly by Inderwick, while the other half (Nos. 2–16) were the responsibility of John Robert Butler, builder; in practice Butler may have built all or most of the terrace. Between February and October 1839 Inderwick granted eighty-year leases of Nos. 2–16 to Butler or his assignees. (fn. 17) Nine houses were occupied by December 1840 and all the rest by the middle of 1841. (fn. 16) At first there were a few shops at either end of Gloucester Terrace, but these gradually expanded to engulf most of the private houses. Today the north end of the terrace only is in residential occupation. The Gloucester Arms (formerly the Gloucester) at No. 34 on the rounded corner with Victoria Grove was original to the development. It was first occupied in 1839 or 1840 by Thomas Hitchcock of Broadwall, Southwark, victualler, who took a short lease of the type normal for public houses. (fn. 18)
Except for three houses at its north end, now Nos. 36–40 (even) Gloucester Road (Plate 50c), the original St. George's Terrace was demolished c. 1907. It was a plain, four-storey stuccoed terrace set back from the roadway behind good front gardens, with the exception of two houses projecting forward at either end and an extra curving one, now No. 36 (originally an apothercary's shop), at the corner with Victoria Grove. Of the nineteen houses only the three survivors were built directly by Inderwick. The remainder were erected under agreements with Robert Clements, Thomas Dutton, Edmund Harrison, William Swain and Joseph Whiting; Inderwick granted a long lease of one house here to William White and Thomas Ferguson of Whitehall Wharf, timber merchants, in September 1842. All the houses were occupied by 1845. (fn. 19)
Victoria Grove was begun in 1837 and finished by 1841, when all the houses were tenanted. (fn. 16) The south side of the street is composed of a single stuccoed terrace of fourteen houses (Nos. 1–13 Victoria Grove and No. 35 Launceston Place), with an elevation characterized beyond No. 5 by stiff little triplets of narrow round-headed windows on the ground floor (Plate 51c, fig. 49). Nos. 10 and 11 were built by Inderwick and the other twelve houses under agreements with the following: Richard Ferris of King Street, Westminster, builder (Nos. 1–6 and 8, with assignment of leases for No. 5 to Thomas Dicks Carter of Upper Charles Street, builder, and for No. 6 to William White, timber merchant); John Holwell (No. 7); Charles James Morris and John Osborn of Parliament Square, ironmongers (No. 9); Thomas Wall of Wiple Place, Kensington, builder (No. 12); and William Swain (No. 13, and No. 35 Launceston Place—a house with a handsome curved return front). (fn. 20) The shops in the front of Nos. 1–4 are original and were first occupied by a baker, a grocer, a greengrocer and a carpenter; the shop in front of No. 5 was added in 1862. (fn. 21)
On the north side of Victoria Grove the original houses were erected between 1838 and 1841. The detached house at No. 18 now called Albert Lodge was leased in 1838 to George Hinton, the builder of the houses to its north in Canning Place. (fn. 22) With its half-hipped, deep-eaved roof on a classic, symmetrical body (the porch is an addition), it shows Joel Bray, if indeed he was the designer for all Inderwick's houses, at his most self-consciously picturesque. So too does the terrace at Nos. 19–25, which share a continuous iron canopy reminiscent of some Regency seaside town (Plate 51a). This row was undertaken by agreement with J. R. Butler, builder, then also at work on Gloucester Terrace. (fn. 23) To its end is attached a bow-fronted house, No. 26, which fills an awkward site but does not appear on any of the early plans (Plate 51b).
All these houses were occupied in about 1840–1. Nos. 15–17, with stucco pilasters and shops below, seem to have been added on part of the garden of the old copy-hold cottage in about 1844–5, directly after Inderwick had secured its enfranchisement. (fn. 16) Albert Mews, with its mews arch next to No. 26, dates from 1865 and was laid out by Charles Aldin, the prolific Kensington builder. (fn. 24)
Launceston Place was known as Sussex Place until 1883. It was the last of Inderwick's new streets to be finished, its houses not all finding residents until 1846. (fn. 16) The buildings here are mostly semi-detached villas, each side having its own distinctive design (Plate 52). On the earlier, western side the typical features are the round-headed recessed porches and square two-storeyed bays (figs. 50, 51); on the eastern side the design is holder, with squarepiered, double-height porches of some originality and pairs of narrow round-headed windows like those in Victoria Grove (fig. 52). The last house on the west side (No. 22) has a little circular, lead-capped turret—perhaps a slightly later addition.
Less is known about the builders in this street than on other parts of the estate, but for the west side the record is tolerably complete. Nos. 1–19 (consec.) were erected under agreements with the following: James Hopkins (Nos. 1–4, original houses demolished); James Allen of Kensington High Street, bricklayer (Nos. 5–6, 15–16); Thomas Jacobs (Nos. 7–8); Thomas Wall of Wiple Place, Kensington, builder (Nos. 9–12); John Scott (Nos. 13–14, with the lease of No. 14 granted to William Laurence, plumber); Henry Taylor (Nos. 17–18); and John Mason (No. 19). (fn. 25) Nos. 1–8 were intended as a group of houses with shops, but only two shops (Nos. 1–2) were so built; these were first occupied by a plumber and a tailor. The present ponderous, curving group of five raw brick houses and shops (Nos. 1A–4) concedes nothing to early-Victorian picturesque taste. They are a rebuilding by the builders Lucas and Sons of Kensington Square and date from 1880. (fn. 26) Attached cast-iron columns between the shop fronts offer some ornamental relief.
On the east side none of the builders are definitely known. But two leases were granted to building tradesmen, one in November 1842 to William Laurence of Kensington Church Street, plumber and glazier (No. 30), and the other in November 1844 to James Dobbins of Markham Street, Chelsea, ironmonger (No. 34). In both leases there are references to adjoining houses in the tenure of one Edward Brooks, who, since he was not an occupant, may have been the builder. (fn. 27)
Character and Later History of the Estate
The Kensington New Town development was an undoubted success. The annual ground rent, estimated at the agricultural level of £24 in 1837, rose to over £1,000 in 1840. (fn. 28) Against this must be set the unknown sums which Inderwick paid for the land and laid out himself in building upon it. In December 1842, however, before building had been completed, a firm of surveyors reported that they considered the estate ‘ample security’ for the advance of £25,000 on mortgage, ‘the whole being of the present estimated value of forty thousand pounds or upwards’. (fn. 29)
Early residents on the Inderwick estate were respectable but not on the whole elevated, with roughly two servants per household in Launceston (then Sussex) Place and St. George's Terrace, and rather less on average in Victoria Grove, Gloucester Terrace and Canning Place. Launceston Place was predictably the best street. It boasted a smattering of painters, a ‘lyric author and composer’ (Falconer Macken at No. 9) and a dramatist (Thomas Morton at No. 28) among its occupants at the time of the census of 1851. At No. 22 lived a painter and self-styled astronomer, Spiridone Gambardella, born in Corfu; the little dome here could perhaps be an addition made for his observations. The previous resident of No. 22 had been a Samuel Rhodes, possibly the surveyor of that name. Four of the estate's residents in 1851 found their way into the Dictionary of National Biography: the Reverend James Booth, educationist, mathematician and discoverer of the ‘Boothian co-ordinates’ at No. 7 Launceston Place; (fn. c1) Thomas F. Marshall, painter, at No. 11 Launceston Place; William Mitchell, proprietor and editor of the Shipping and Mercantile Gazette and originator of the international code of maritime symbols, at No. 10 St. George's Terrace; and Alfred Stevens, designer and sculptor, who arrived at No. 7 Canning Place after the census had been taken and lived there until 1858. (fn. 30) In the same street the French painter Charles François Daubigny was in temporary exile at No. 13 in 1871, not far from his friend Claude Monet, then living at Bath Place, Kensington High Street. (fn. 31) Between 1862 and 1865 the heretical Bishop Colenso, home on furlough from Natal to defend and promulgate his views, lived intermittently at No. 23 Launceston Place. (fn. 32) By 1881 this street had fallen from social grace and was inhabited by smaller families of an apparently lower status; at No. 14, the activities of a ‘psychopathic healer’ perhaps enlivented the street. (fn. 33)
After Inderwick's death in 1867 his properties were divided among his children, but there were no early sales of freeholds, and the estate's excellent state of survival without the insertions and changes which mark the neighbouring Vallotton estate suggest a continuing tradition of stringent management. Apart from the rebuilding of Nos. 1A–4 Launceston Place, already mentioned, only one major change to the fabric to the estate requires recording. This was the demolition of St. George's Terrace in Gloucester Road and its replacement by a block of flats set back over shops, St. George's Court, in 1907–9. This hefty building (fig. 53), stretching most of the way from Kynance Place to Victoria Grove, is in one of the dowdier styles of Edwardian architecture, mixing elements Tudor and Baroque, red brick and brown stone dressings. Its architect was the experienced flat-designer Paul Hoffmann and its builder and promoter J. C. Hill of Upper Holloway, well known as a speculator in public houses and flats. Domes and other crowning features to which Hoffmann aspired were omitted. Originally St. George's Court had two suites of rooms per floor in each of the five blocks, so planned that they could if required be united into ‘one large family suite’. Rents, including rates and taxes, came to £200–250 per annum. (fn. 34)
The Vallotton Estate
The largest individual freeholders of land in what is now loosely called Kensington New Town were, at the time of its building development, the Vallotton family, who between 1794 and 1831 purchased four properties, two small and two large, in the district. These lands, comprising most of Victoria Road, St. Alban's Grove, Stanford Road, Douro Place, Albert Place, Eldon Road and Kelso Place, are referred to in what follows as the Vallotton estate. For the purposes of clarity, three further small areas are discussed in this section’ Cambridge Place, which was developed in tandem with Albert Place to its south by the freeholder here, William Hoof; Kensington Court Place, which was partly purchased by the Vallottons after some building had occurred but was never wholly owned by them; and a separate freehold at the west end of Kelso Place which belongs topographically with the area. The relation between these properties is shown on figure 54.
The Vallotton Family
The name of Vallotton first appears hereabouts in 1794, when a small of parcel of land in South End behind Kensington Square was bought by John James Vallotton of Jermyn Street, merchant. (fn. 35) He was probably already well-off, for in 1801 he was able to settle over £4,000 on trust to provide an income for his wife Rebecca during her lifetime. The source of his wealth seems to have been fashionable haberdashery, since in 1827 he was advertising a large stock of French goods, lately brought by him from Paris and suitable for fancy balls. (fn. 36) At this time he was living at Clifton House, Old Brompton, a villa which then stood in its own modest grounds on the north side of Old Brompton Road, roughly at the present junction with Queen's Gate. (fn. 16)
J. J. Vallotton died in 1828, leaving a fortune of £76,000 among five surviving children and their descendants. (fn. 37) His principal heir was his son Howell Leny Vallotton (1795 or 1796–1858). To him, probably with his father's assistance and agreement, were due the later and larger purchases in Kensington in 1824 and 1827 and their subsequent development, as well as a small acquisition of existing houses in 1831. H. L. Vallotton is noted from 1816 as a fancy warehouseman, first at No. 33 Fleet Street and then at No. 38 Sackville Street. (fn. 5) After his father's death he lived for a time in the family home at Clifton House, Old Brompton, but in 1847 he took a newly built house close to his Kensington estate, the present No. 6 Hyde Park Gate. (fn. 38) In 1856 he moved to Rutland Lodge in Addison Road (now No. 64), where his widow Elizabeth (1792 or 1793–1872) and surviving daughter, Eliza (1817 or 1818–1902) continued to live until 1864, when they moved to No. 4 Essex Villas, Campden Hill. (fn. 5) The Vallottons had two sons. The older, Charles Howell Vallotton, was trained as a lawyer but died in early manhood in 1840. (fn. 39) The younger, Theodore James Vallotton (1826–1909), married late in life and had no children. His widow remarried in 1909 and at her death in 1932 left the residue of the estate in trust to her two nephews, Samuel and Frank Goodge. (fn. 40)
South End Row, West Side
J. J. Vallotton's purchase of 1794 was of a small piece of land bounded on the north by South End and on the east by the track now known as South End Row. (fn. 35) One of several separate properties hereabouts which had formerly belonged to Thomas Sutton (see page 9) and were then being sold, it included a substantial house adjacent to South End, with a good garden behind. This had been enlarged or improved by Sir George Baker, royal physician and investigator of lead-poisoning, who lived there from 1772 to 1779. It then became the seat of William Harvest's ‘Academy’, previously located in Kensington Square (see page 18). (fn. 16)
In 1797 Vallotton gave a long building lease of the whole to Jonathan Hamston, a local carpenter and builder. (fn. 41) It is likely that Hamston in 1795–7 built the run of six small houses mentioned in the lease which were the predecessors of the present Nos. 18–26 (even) South End Row. Later, in 1805–6, Hamston added to their north a row of four cottages called Trafalgar Place, probably on the garden of the ‘Academy’. (fn. 42) These survive as Nos. 10–16 (even) South End Row; despite gentrification, their flat brick fronts and broad single windows on each floor give away their artisan origins (Plate 53a). Another four cottages behind the front, known as South End Gardens and possibly also built by Hamston, have disappeared.
Eliza Vallotton sold this freehold in 1883, (fn. 43) but it is simplest to give brief details of its later building history here. In 1938 flats designed by G. L. Torok, architect, were scheduled to replace all the buildings on the west side of South End Row, but the advent of war put a stop to this scheme. A division of ownership followed, and in 1956–7 J. J. de Segrais, acting as architect for E. and R. Thomas Limited, replaced the cottages at the bottom of South End Row and in South End Gardens with the present Nos. 18–26 (even) South End Row, a group of five pale-brick, minimally Georgian houses with garages on the ground floor. (fn. 44) At the north end of South End Row, the house next to South End occupied by Sir George Baker was demolished long ago, probably in the third or fourth decade of the nineteenth century. Its site has undergone sundry industrial and commercial uses over the years and is now a depot for the Property Services Agency.
Kensington Court Place, West Side
Before H. L. Vallotton could by his greater purchases of 1824 and 1827 enlarge the family's holdings to the dignity of an estate, Jonathan Hamston was the author of a further development nearby, on land which had previously been part of the grounds of Kensington House. This, as explained on page 56, was by 1798 in the ownership of Gerard Noel Noel, who proceeded to sell his various properties in the parish. By transactions of 1802, 1804, and 1808, Hamston bought from Noel some seven acres of land, amounting in modern terms to the two sides of Kensington Court Place, the site of Kensington Court Mews, and the whole area north of St. Alban's Grove (then a property boundary and lane) between Kensington Court Place and Victoria Road stretching almost up to Cambridge Place. (fn. 45)
Most of this land was left empty or used for the time being as a brick-field. But from 1802 onwards Hamston laid out a small L-shaped development known as Charles Street and Charles Place. (fn. 46) The ten south-facing houses of Charles Place were torn down long ago for the greenhouses of Baron Grant's short-lived Kensington House, (fn. 47) but ten of Hamston's fourteen east-facing houses in Charles Street survive as Nos. 6–15 Kensington Court Place (as this street became in 1908). These houses may at first have been like Nos. 10–16 South End Row, though perhaps of slightly higher quality (Plate 53c). They appear to have been ‘upgraded’ by means of alterations to the fronts and garden railings in the later nineteenth century, while Nos. 2–5 were replaced by the intrusive Hamston Mansions (G. L. Elwell, architect) in 1905–6. (fn. 48) Opposite them, on the east side of Charles Street, was a paddock which Hamston hoped to retain as open space for their future amenity. At the south end of this terrace, on the present west corner of Kensington Court Place and St. Alban's Grove, Hamston built a public house, the Builders' Arms, formerly No. 1 Charles Street. It was first licensed in 1807. The existing pub may be Hamston's in carcase, but has been enlarged, stuccoed and otherwise embellished, principally in 1861 and 1878 (Plate 53b). (fn. 49)
Hamston's development here was only half-built in 1811 and had perhaps not long been completed when he died late in 1819 or early in 1820. It is likely that he had larger plans which he did not live to carry out. By his will his property was divided, making development less easy for his sons. (fn. 50)
Acquisitions, Early Development and Layout by H. L. Vallotton, 1824–42
In 1824 H. L. Vallotton made the earlier of two large purchases in the district, amounting to about thirteen and a half acres south of the modern St. Alban's Grove belonging to Elizabeth, Viscountess Bulkeley. The price was £11,480, but of this £7,500 was paid to mortgagees to clear it from encumbrances. This estate represented much of the land formerly attached to Colby House, whose descent to the childless Lady Bulkeley is described on page 56. (fn. 51)
Vallotton supplemented this in August 1827 by buying from the executors of Jonathan Hamston most of the land which the latter had acquired from Noel in 1802–8. (fn. 52) The significant portion of this purchase consisted of the six acres of undeveloped land north of St. Alban's Grove and east of Kensington Court Place, but two small areas of developed property were also included in the sale: the present Nos. 8–15 Kensington Court Place, and some few houses on the west side of James (now Ansdell) Street, long since demolished, which had come to Hamston's ownership by a different route. Four years later, in 1831, Vallotton made another unimportant purchase in James Street and James Street Mews, which his son Theodore sold immediately after his death in 1858. (fn. 53)
By 1827, therefore, H. L. Vallotton had acquired nearly twenty acres of land which he intended to lay out for building development (fig. 54.) He quickly took the first steps to do so, on the portion of the property north of St. Alban's Grove where Hamston had had his brick-field. He began (with whose professional advice is not known) by setting out Victoria Road — a name first found in 1829. (fn. 54) This diverged directly southward from Love Lane, a track now absorbed at its northern end into Victoria Road's upper reaches, and allowed access from Kensington Road to the southern part of the property. Victoria Road was to be the backbone of the development, though for some years it was probably not constructed beyond St. Alban's Grove.
House-building began modestly with two pairs of semidetached villas, originally Nos. 1–4, now Nos. 23–25 and 29–31 Victoria Road. The builder was Thomas Rice, statuary and stonemason, who at about this time was also engaged on a small development, Sussex Terrace, Old Brompton Road, not far from the Vallottons' own Clifton House. Rice received 81-year leases of the four houses from H. L. Vallotton in 1829, mortgaged them to Anne and Caroline Gunter of Earl's Court and found tenants promptly enough in 1830, but went bankrupt in 1833 before building further. (fn. 55) Vallotton bought up the interests in the houses in 1834. (fn. 56) Not until 1839 was a third pair, Nos. 35–37 Victoria Road, built and leased to Thomas Mayers, baker, thus completing development of the thin wedge of land between Victoria Road and Love Lane (now Canning Passage). (fn. 57) Of these six houses, only the stucco fronts of Nos. 23–25 remain relatively unaltered; they show how the semi-detached villa on two floors over a raised basement was to dominate the first half of the development (fig. 55).
This early setback, due perhaps to poor timing, post poned the development of Vallotton's estate. During the 1830s, while Vallotton hung fire, John Inderwick rapidly covered his smaller neighbouring property to the east with building. While this doubtless attracted potential residents who might otherwise have been drawn to Vallotton, it established the neighbourhood of Kensington New Town and made Vallotton's resumed development, when it came, less risky.
Impetus was regained only in 1841–2, this time with some professional help from George Godwin junior, who in the latter year applied on Vallotton's behalf to build sewers in Victoria Road, Albert Road (later Albert Place) and St. Alban's Road (later St. Alban's Grove). (fn. 58) The plan accompanying this application sketches in a street layout for the whole estate, more complicated than the one adopted but one similar lines. From the southern extension of Victoria Road, three streets run westwards to join another north-south street. The future Douro Place is only a gap between houses in Victoria Road, and a road is indicated running north from St. Alban's Grove which would have linked the ends of Charles Place and Albert Place and might one day have continued through the site of Kensington Houses to Kensington Road. Some other of these roads were probably intended to carry through beyond the estate when development overtook neighbouring properties. In the event, neighbouring developments ignored the street pattern, leaving a series of cul-de-sac roads and giving a secluded character to the area, now much prized for residential amenity. The exception is St. Alban's Grove, which joins other streets at both ends, since it follows the line of an old trackway from Gloucester Road to Kensington Square. There is no definite site for a church shown on this plan of 1842; exactly when the concept of Christ Church, Victoria Road, took shape we do not know, but it probably dates from the later 1840s (page 368).
Godwin's name occurs once more in connection with the estate, on a later sewer plan of 1852, and he was an executor of H. L. Vallotton's will in 1858. He may therefore be presumed to have been in some sense his ‘estate surveyor’. (fn. 59) But the diversity of building styles and the large number of builders involved certainly do not suggest any firm architectural control.
Albert Place, Cambridge Place, Douro Place and Nos. 2–30 (even) Victoria Road
In 1841 Vallotton made an agreement with William Hoof, a successful public-works contractor who had just bought the property to the north between Vallotton's land and Kensington Road (page 117). Here Hoof was to live in Madeley House until his death in 1855. But he was willing to sacrifice the southern end of his garden which, combined with the northernmost portions of Vallotton's estate, he proceeded to develop in two stages. To prepare for the first phase, centred upon Albert Road (now Place), he bought from Vallotton two small sections of land and agreed to take two further parcels on lease. (fn. 60) The fourteen original houses of Albert Place, together with Nos. 6–14 (even) Victoria Road, were built by Hoof in 1841–5 and quickly occupied. (fn. 61) Apart from No. 6 Victoria Road, they are semi-detached and stuccoed pairs (Plates 54b, 56c) not unlike those erected nearby in Canning Place, with square-piered porches in Albert Place, Ionic ones in Victoria Road. The application for sewers in Albert Place was made for Hoof in 1842 by the architect John Crake, a pupil of Decimus Burton. (fn. 62) Crake may therefore have been their architect, thought his grander houses in Hyde Park Gardens, Paddington, show no marked resemblance to these humbler villas. A narrow cottage was soon afterwards inserted into the south-west corner of Albert Place; this is now numbered 8A.
In 1851 Carlotta Grisi (1819–99), the dancer who created the role of Giselle, was living briefly at No. 9 Albert Place. Described in the census as an artist born in Lombardy, she coyly gave her age as twenty-nine. Her last stage appearance in London had been in 1850, after which she spent the three remaining years of her career in Russia. No later London visit is recorded in theatrical history, but it seems likely that she was visiting London for the Great Exhibition, as also, perhaps, was her cousin, the singer Giulia Grisi, who is recorded in the census at No. 45 Hyde Park Gate. (fn. 63) Next door, No.8 was inhabited from 1878 to 1885 by the architect Harold Peto, who may have added the quaint bow window. Music returned to Albert Place with the composer and pioneer of school music teaching Arthur Somervell (1863–1937), who lived at No. 1 from 1901 to 1922. Some alterations of unknown date, probably for Somervell, are recorded here by the architect W.K. Shirley, Lord Ferrers. (fn. 64) At No. 14 Victoria Road Sir Henry Newbolt the poet lived from 1889 to 1898, the house having been found for him by Julia Stephen, his wife's aunt. He found it ‘small, but not dark or cramped’. (fn. 65) (fn. c2) Nearby, George Robey the comedian inhabited No. 10 Victoria Road in 1926–32. (fn. 5)
The tight layout of Albert Place, with houses at the end, put paid to any notion of a through road from St. Alban's Grove to Kensington Road linking the ends of Charles Place and Albert Place. But in 1850–1 William Hoof and his son Henry as an afterthought added a further and similar small development to the north on their own freehold. The shape of this development was cramped, as it had to be carved out of Hoof's restricted property without encroaching too far upon Madeley House. It was arranged around the roadway of Cambridge Place, which runs west-wards out of Victoria Road, bends twice, and debouches in the form of an alley into Albert Place between Nos. 4 and 5 (two houses further west than was originally envisaged). The first houses here were Nos. 5 and 6 Cambridge Place, started in 1850; their gardens were later curtailed by the development of Kensington Court. Two linked rows of pairs (Nos. 1–4 and 7–10) followed in 1851, and all were lived in by 1854. (fn. 66) They resemble the houses of Albert Place, though by reason of their date they are a trifle larger and heavier in style (Plate 55a). Built with them were the taller Nos. 2–4 Victoria Road, formerly called Clive Villas, started by the Hoofs in 1851 and embellished with Ionic porches like Nos. 6–14 to their south. (fn. 67) The bay-windowed No. 11 Cambridge Place was tacked on to Nos. 7–10 in 1875 (architect Charles Moreing, builder P. Sweeting). (fn. 68) The heretical Bishop John William Colenso was the one early resident of note here; he lived at No. 3 Cambridge Place in 1853–5, excepting the months in 1853–4 when he first went out to take up the see of Natal. (fn. 69)
South of Albert Place, the original houses on the west side of Victoria Road (Nos. 16–30 even) down to St. Alban's Grove, were built in about 1841–4. No. 16, leased to William Halksworth of Pembroke Square, builder, in 1842, and No.18 (Victoria Cottage), occupied in the same year by Charles James Perace, gentleman, formed a detached pair. (fn. 70) They had raised Italianate towers with bracketed eaves and small pyramidal roofs, now much altered by bomb damage and rebuilding. Nos. 20–30 (even), leased in 1842–4, originally called Marlborough Terrace and since destroyed, were the work of William Harrison of St. Martin's Lane, builder. This earliest terrace on the Vallotton estate was a unified group with two colonnades on the raised ground-floor level linking the projecting bays of the paired houses and sheltering the front doors. (fn. 71)
Between Nos. 18 and 20 Victoria Road a second cul-de-sac, Douro Place, was formed and mainly built up from 1846 with further plain semi-detached villas by Frederick Woods of Moscow Road, Bayswater, and William Wheeler of Silver Street, Notting Hill, builders active also in Lansdowne Road and Chepstow Crescent, North Kensington. (fn. 72) The first house, No.15 Douro Place, a residence and studio for the sculptor John Bell, previously living at the adjoining No.1 Marlborough Terrace, was not built by them but by R. Woodcock of Hoxton. (fn. 73) This unaesthetic building (since destroyed) was hard against the pavement, in contrast to the other houses. Bell, sculptor of the ‘America’ group on the Albert Memorial, remained here until his death in 1895. (fn. 5) On the north side of Douro Place, Woods and Wheeler built four pairs of houses (Nos. 1–8) in 1846, and another pair on the south side (Nos.13–14) in 1847. (fn. 74) In March 1848 Wheeler was declared bankrupt, no doubt a victim of the recession of that year. (fn. 75) This collapse of confidence is reflected in an absence of any new building on the Vallotton estate in 1848–9. The remaining houses on the south side of Douro Place, Nos. 9–12, were built in 1850–1 by Mark Patrick of Lambeth and leased to John Marsh Nelson, a woollen-draper. (fn. 76) They are of stock brick without the full stucco facings of the earlier houses, and have canted bays to the ground floor, marking a distinct shift in taste. No. 11A Douro Place, behind the frontage, was a studio built by John Mowlem and Company in 1880. (fn. 77)
In 1881, W. S. Clarke noted in The Suburban Homes of London that ‘Victoria-road, with its surroundings, is noted for being inhabited by artists of high standing, and its villas are certainly beautiful minimatures themselves’. (fn. 78) The most notable artist to live in the area was the painter and etcher Samuel Palmer, who moved to No. 6 Douro Place in 1851. (fn. 5) Since 1848 he had been living in a charming but tumbledown cottage nearby then known as No. 1A Love Lane (see page 121). He remained at Douro Place until 1861, but it was an unhappy period of his life which the failings of the house, as he saw them, did little to alleviate. As his son wrote, ‘It was a hideous little semi-detached house, with a prim little garden at the back and front, and an ample opportunity for profiting by the next door neighbours’ musical proclivities… By all the sights and cries peculiar to a suburban cul-de-sac Douro Place was favoured, and many an organ-player well used to sudden ejectment from other lairs of artists played with impunity near Number six, little thinking what happy memories of the sunny South his dark visage was calling up.’ (fn. 79)
Victoria Road south of St. Alban's Grove
From 1842, building slowly extended southwards on both sides of Victoria Road. In that year a pair of villas (the present Nos. 39 and 41) was erected on the east side immediately south of St. Alban's Grove by John Ridgeway of Kensington High Street, builder. At No. 39 the first lessee and, from 1846, the occupant was the animal painter Richard Ansdell, of Seel Street, Liverpool. (fn. 80) In 1850 Ansdell took over No. 41, occupying both houses until 1861 when he removed to the new Lytham House in St. Alban's Grove (page 143). (fn. 81) The frontages here are well-preserved, and have unusually fine iron balcony ornaments in vigorous late Greek revival style.
Next to the south came Nos. 43–45 (odd), leased to the neighbouring landlord, John Inderwick, in 1843. (fn. 82) These well-preserved houses closely resemble those on the west side of Launceston Place, on Inderwick's land immediately behind. The lease for No. 49 was granted in 1846 to Samuel Sewell Wilson, builder, of Upper Ebury Street, Pimlico. (fn. 83) Its northern twin, No. 47, subsequently enlarged into a double-fronted house with barge-boarded gables, was presumably also Wilson's work. Further progress southwards settled into a steady rhythm when James Jordan, builder, of Cambridge Terrace, Spring Street, Paddington, proceeded between 1845 and 1847 to build all the way from No. 51 to No. 81 on the east side of Victoria Road. (fn. 84) His houses retain vestiges of uniformity under alterations of varying severity. The original schemes consisted of three sets of semi-detached paired houses with stucco quoins and exposed brick facings, followed by terraces of six and four masquerading as semi-detached pairs, with fully stuccoed pilastered fronts and the shallow pitched roofs and deep eaves typical of existing houses on the estate (Plate 58).
The west side of Victoria Road was filled up over the same period, but with greater individuality. No.32, also known as Auburn Lodge, occupies a narrow site on the south corner with St. Alban's Grove, with a gable end facing east. The lease was granted in November 1844 to the first occupant, James Uwins of Lower Belgrave Street, artist. (fn. 85) All the fenestration on this house is of later date, many of the alterations having been executed by Harrods’ building department in the 1920s. To the south came No. 34, once Park Villa, with an off-centre bay window, erected in 1846–7 by the builder E. W. Burgess and later refaced in red brick. (fn. 86) Then follows the former Kendall Cottage, No.36, a larger house with garden to the north and west, whose appearance has been completely altered, being now in an early garden-suburb style. This was leased to the first occupier, Luke Reynolds Bartrum of Hunter Street, Brunswick Square, in 1845. (fn. 87)
The opening of Cottesmore Gardens is flanked by two semi-detached villa pairs. To the north, Nos. 38 and 40 Victoria Road were undertaken in 1847 by a builder named Pearce on behalf of Edward Henry Browne, architect, of Beaufort Buildings, Strand. (fn. 88) The houses are stuccoed all over, and the return elevation to the south makes a creditable attempt at a formal composition, although now overlaid with later alterations. Its small flanking pediment matches Holly Lodge on the south of Cottesmore Gardens, one half of the pair at Nos. 42 and 44 Victoria Road. These were built to the design of David Moore, architect, as part of the development of Cottesmore Gardens, where Moore lived at the adjacent No.2. Begun in 1847, both houses were occupied by 1849, the former by E. W. Cooke the marine painter. (fn. 89) Moore continued this development southwards with a block of three houses (Nos. 46, 48 and 50 Victoria Road) begun in 1851 and occupied in 1853. (fn. 90) They have survived well, and make a pleasing formal composition with raised pediments on the end bays, and the doorway of No. 48 centred in a three-bay front.
No such urbanity is found in the corner house, No. 52 Victoria Road (Eldon Lodge), a red-brick studio-house of picturesque Tudor character erected in 1851–3 for the painter Alfred Hitchen Corbould who specialized in horses and dogs (Plate 59b). The builder was Daniel Edwards of Haverstock Street, Hampstead Road. Corbould took the lease in 1855, over a year after moving in. (fn. 91) He remained until about the end of 1866, when the house was taken by his relative Edward Henry Corbould, the professor of painting and drawing to Queen Victoria's children. At the end of that year E. H. Corbould was in dispute with his neighbours about the building line of an enlarged studio and extension which he was erecting to the designs of the architect Thomas Henry Watson. (fn. 92) This design was exhibited at the annual Architectural Exhibition in 1868, calling forth the criticism of the Building News, which thought the original building with its ‘ugly, though ordinary, drop-handle labels to the windows’ a poor model to have to follow, adding; ‘Why he should have taken the trouble to make a drawing of it, or, having done so, should have exhibited it, we are at a loss to conceive’. (fn. 93) Despite these strictures, the Tudor-Gothic doorway heralded some surprises within. The Court Suburb Magazine in 1868 described the studio as a wide chamber with a vaulted roof and quaint old carvings, ‘something between a baronial hall and a refectory in a rich monastery’, decorated with armour, weapons, antlers and skins. (fn. 94) Much of the panelling and carving survives, providing an apt setting for the room's current use as a chapel. Further carvings, some apparently old and some new, are worked into the darkly imposing staircase-hall and a chimneypiece in a large room below the studio (Plate 61b), where some Continental stained glass, including a figure of St. Peter, has also been preserved. A lower ceiling has been inserted in the studio, but an atmosphere of Gothic gloom has survived. In the original part of the house a staircase in seventeenth-century style and some ‘Adams’ ornament are evidence of later transformations.
In 1875 the architect William Burges was considering remodelling a house in Victoria Road for his own use. A first-floor plan exists among his drawings, but it is not possible to identify the house. In the summer of 1875, Burges found a plot for a new house in Melbury Road. (fn. 95) Victoria Road underwent complete renumbering in 1903.
St. Alban's Grove, Cottesmore Gardens and Eldon Road
South of St. Alban's Grove, three separate east-west roads are shown on the plan of sewers for the Vallotton estate submitted in 1842; all were to continue westwards beyond Stanford Road. (fn. 58) In the event, this layout was varied and two roads only, Cottesmore Gardens and Eldon Road, were constructed, allowing deeper blocks for building.
The development of the south side of St. Alban's Grove (before 1938, St. Alban's Road) and the north side of Cottesmore Gardens (until 1886, Clarendon Road) may be considered together. The builder for houses backing on to each other in these roads and for Nos. 1 and 3 Stanford Road at the end of the block was Edward William Burgess of Wardour Street, Soho. Burgess began with No. 2 St. Alban's Grove, also known as St. Alban's Villa, built and leased in 1850. (fn. 96) Originally freestanding but asymmetrical, it is now joined to the rear of No. 32 Victoria Road. After this house's completion, Burgess proceeded steadily westwards from 1851, working at the rate of approximately a pair of houses in either road every year. These houses (Nos. 4–11 St. Alban's Grove and Nos. 3–19 Cottesmore Gardens) were completed by 1856. They were leased mostly to Burgess or his nominees, but Nos. 3–15 Cottesmore Gardens were taken by George Roake of Victoria Road, gentleman. (fn. 97) In addition, Burgess in 1855–6 built two houses with shops, Nos. 12 and 12A St. Alban's Grove, on the corner of St. Alban's Grove and Stanford
Road, where the Builders’ Arms had already established a commercial foothold. The lease of No. 12 was granted to Capel Knight of Kensington High Street, dairyman, who paid £600 to Burgess. (fn. 98) These houses are trim stuccoed villas of nearly uniform pattern with plain pilastered doorcases (Plate 56b). The centre bays of each pair hardly project, and the narrow gaps between pairs create the impression of a terrace. Those in Cottesmore Gardens, while still of three storeys, are markedly taller. Most of the freeholds were retained by the Vallotton Estate until at least 1909, and few alterations have taken place to the exteriors.
Two individual houses at the east end of this block were built by other developers. No. 3 St. Alban's Grove, the work of Thomas Rider of Union Street, Southwark, builder, is a double-fronted detached villa of 1850 with a balustraded parapet (now mutilated) and emphatically rusticated corners. It was intended for James Izod, a printer's broker, but the lease of March 1852 was granted to William Banting, the well-known upholsterer; neither occupied the house. (fn. 99) Behind it, No. 1 Cottesmore Gardens was originally built for one Robert McInnes in 1851 to the design of J. F. Bush, architect and surveyor, the builders being Chesterman and Son. (fn. 100) This was radically altered and enlarged in 1893 (page 148).
The north side of St. Alban's Grove was also a place for individualism, enjoying favour among the Victorian artistic community. Opposite No. 3, a studio was built for the sculptor James LeGrew and occupied from 1845; LeGrew was succeeded in 1858 by the painter Alfred Elmore, for whom his friend Alfred Stevens shortly afterwards designed a chimneypiece in oak. (fn. 101) Meanwhile in 1852 the successful painter Richard Ansdell, then resident at Nos. 39–41 Victoria Road, built a second studio to the west of LeGrew's and repaired an old cottage adjacent. (fn. 102) In about 1860–1 Ansdell replaced these with a large and plain three-storey house of five bays in grey brick, called Lytham House in honour, no doubt, of his Lancashire origins. (fn. 5) In 1886 the freehold of Lytham House was sold, and it became the Kensington High School for Girls. (fn. 103) It was then raised by a storey and an unfeeling extension added to its east side by J. Osborne Smith, architect (Plate 55c). A more tactful addition was made to the west in 1929 to the designs of L. J. Ashby. (fn. 104) LeGrew's studio was in due course joined to the school but destroyed without record in the Second World War. The school having vacated the premises, this part of the site was rebuilt in 1951–5 for the College of Estate Management as a twostorey block in a plain, polite classical manner by Montagu, Evans and Son (architectural partner, David Steven). (fn. 105) The buildings here are currently known as Atlantic College, a constituent of the larger Richmond College.
In Cottesmore Gardens, the building of the south side preceded the north side, although later alterations now disguise this Nos. 2 and 4, built in 1847–8, were the work of David Moore, architect, author also of Nos. 42 and 44 Victoria Road. No other builder's name is known. Moore himself occupied No. 2, a free-standing villa which has undergone many transformations, its existing outer form being of recent date. (fn. 106)
From this point, the work in Cottesmore Gardens and along some of the north side of Eldon Road behind proceeded under the direction of David Howell, of Serjeants Inn, Fleet Street, described in 1853 as ‘articled clerk to a solicitor, lately carrying on business as a builder’. (fn. 107) Nos. 6–24 (even) Cottesmore Gardens, together with Nos.5 and 7 Stanford Road at the west end of the block, were built by Howell in 1852. (fn. 108) They are designed in a bold classical manner, with rather fleshy consoles and modillions where these have survived, and bands of Vitruvian scroll between the bases of the ground-floor windows. The design conceals a conundrum, since the application to lay drains for Cottesmore Gardens and Eldon Road Carries the name of the fervent Gothic Revival architect, R.C. Carpenter (1812–55) of Carlton Chambers, Regent Street. (fn. 109) Although Carpenter had designed the Tudor-Gothic Lonsdale Square, Islington, in 1838, he was deeply occupied with church and school work in 1852, so that his full-hearted involvement is hard to credit. T. J. Vallotton was living at Carlton Chambers in 1851, but no further connection can be made.
On the north side of Eldon Road, the application under Carpenter's name included outlines of all the houses from No. 17 to No. 29, in a grouping of two pairs at each end with a central terrace of five (Nos. 21–25) between them. In execution one of the eastern pairs (Nos. 19 and 20) was joined to the terrace (Plate 57a). This initial arrangement explains the narrow plots for Nos. 22–24 (consec.), which were to have formed the center of the terrace. Robert Whatkinson Long, another man who combined a career in the law with building-speculation (and who figures also in the tangled tale of the south side of Eldon Road), seems to have had a hand in the initial stages of this development. (fn. 110) Nos. 17–25 were built by David Howell in 1852, but Nos. 26–29 by Ambrose Crowshaw of Upper Holloway, after Howell had got into difficulties probably connected with Long's finances. Howell took the leases of Nos. 17–22, but Nos. 23–29 were leased to Francis Dollman, a solicitor active in the development of the ‘Abingdon-Scarsdale’ area further west (pages 226, 228–9, 232, 235). These thirteen houses were gradually occupied between 1854 and 1858. (fn. 111) They retain the vestiges of original uniformity, having undergone alterations and war damage. They were of exposed stock brick, with heavy cornices above the third floor and strongly moulded stucco dressings (Plate 57b). The best preserved are Nos. 28–29. Among residents here was the critic J. Comyns Carr at No. 18 between 1897 and 1908. (fn. 16)
A vacant site remained to the east of No. 17 Eldon Road on land which was probably part of David Moore's ‘take’ on the estate. Here in 1854–5 Moore built the present No. 17A Eldon Road, originally Malvern Villa. (fn. 112) With its plain cornice, quoins and blind-boxes, it has been little altered externally. Initially, No. 17A enjoyed a garden to the rear and side. In 1881 the architect E. A. Heffer designed a sculptor's studio and dwelling for part of the site, but the project lapsed. Instead another architect, W. H. Collbran, next year designed and this time built a residence and studio (now No. 17B) for Major-General James Pattle Beadle. The studio was evidently intended for James Prinsep Barnes Beadle, who from 1884 exhibited military and other paintings from this address. Higgs and Hill's successfull tender was for £2,917, with small extras. (fn. 113) In 1891 Nos. 17A and 17B were conveyed to J. P. B. Beadle by Eliza Vallotton, and afterwards transferred by a deed of trust to the Major-General. (fn. 114) No. 17B Eldon Road does nothing to diminish Collbran's reputation for heavy-handedness. The façade has a forced irregularity, enhanced by bright orange brick and bold stone dressings (Plate 57b). A cheerful wood and glass conservatory survives over the porch. Later internal alterations at this house are mentioned on page 150.
Christ Church, Victoria Road, a church projected several years before but not built till 1850–1 (page 368–9), occupies the eastern end of Eldon Road's south side. Around the time it was approaching completion, it seems likely that R. W. Long agreed with Vallotton to build on a swathe of land stretching west from the church along the whole southern edge of the estate, including houses not only here but on both frontages in Stanford Road and Merton Road (now the north-south arm of Kelso Place). This undertaking was carried on too fast and brought failure to its initiators.
In the summer of 1851 Henry Holland, a builder of Greenwich, started work on a terrace of sixteen stucco houses on the south side of Eldon Road in collaboration with Long, filling the whole length of the street frontage. (fn. 115) The first eight houses (Nos. 1–8) were advanced enough for Holland, by then of Providence Terrace (now Kenway Road), Earl's Court, to take a lease of them in August 1851 and mortgage it immediately. Parties to the mortgage included Ebenezer Holland and Harold Holland, carpenters, and William Smith, landlord of the nearby Builders’ Arms; it was witnessed by R. W. Long, together with Robert Furniss Long to whom he acted as clerk. (fn. 116) The houses were still unfinished when Holland failed in 1852, for in May Vallotton agreed to grant a new lease to the mortgagees as soon as the houses were fit for use. They were gradually occupied between 1852 and 1855, but not leased until the following decade. (fn. 117) A start had been made on the remaining eight houses (Nos. 9–16) in October 1851; the leases here were initially taken by R. W. Long and transferred by him to Holland. (fn. 118) Warnings of impending insolvency on the part of Long and Holland can be seen in a succession of complex mortgages from November 1851 to Henry Shuttleworth of Regent Street and others. (fn. 119) They were insufficient to prevent the bankruptcy of both the Longs in February 1852, followed by Holland in March. (fn. 120) Their building work in Eldon Road was suspended, and Nos. 9–16 were completed, after July by James Farmer, builder, of Cannon Row, Westminster, for the London and Liverpool Insurance Company, who were among the mortgagees. Leases for these houses, for the back land in Stanford Road and for what was to become Kingsley Mews, were finally re-granted by Vallotton to Shuttleworth in May 1852. (fn. 121) Most of the houses in Eldon Road were occupied by 1855.
In spite of these vagaries, a consistent style was maintained for the whole terrace, introducing a coarse Italianate vigour into the deep bracketed frieze and the triple thirdfloor windows with their stilted arches (Plate 56a, fig. 56). The roof is concealed behind a parapet which is crested in imitation of Roman roof tiles. The first-floor windows are in arched pairs, the ground floor has canted bays throughout and the two houses at the ends of the terrace project slightly. These wholly stuccoed houses survive with few external alterations.
Stanford Road and Kelso Place
Stanford Road (at first Place) closely adheres to the line intended for it on the estate plan of 1842. In due course it was to have continued southwards into the Broadwood estate, not developed as Cornwall Gardens until 1862–78, and indeed it was for many years the intention so to project it. West of this road, the east-west arm of Kelso Place follows the line of one of the three parallel roads south of St. Alban's Grove anticipated in 1842. Its north-south arm, known until 1937 as Merton Road, also follows part of a road-line planned in 1842.
The whole of this south-west corner of the Vallotton estate was greatly disrupted by the advent of the Metropolitan and District Railways in 1864–9. This led to the compulsory purchase and demolition of recently erected houses in Stanford Road and Kelso Place and their replacement by socially inferior products of the 1870s, built directly over the railway tunnels. Stanford Road and the east-west part of Kelso Place were never continued beyond the estate, and the district became an isolated backwater of a character never envisaged when development started here in 1851.
On Stanford Road's east side, the independent frontages were short, development depending largely on the crossstreets. Nos. 1 and 3, therefore, were built in 1854 by E. W. Burgess as part of his development between Cottesmore Gardens and St. Alban's Grove, Nos. 5 and 7 in 1852 as part of David Howell's ‘take’ between Cottesmore Gardens and Eldon Road. (fn. 122) The site of Nos. 9–15 (odd) Stanford Road, south of Eldon Road, was reserved by the Longs for a substantial detached house, but shortly before their bankruptcy it was leased to them as a row of four houses, probably scarcely begun. They were finished soon afterwards by George Smith Stredder of Hammersmith, the builder responsible for much of the west side of Stanford Road. (fn. 123) These were plain houses with ground-floor bay windows, and are shown in photographs of the railway workings. The railway companies included No. 15 in their purchase of 1866, but seem to have left it standing and sold the freehold to Thomas Broadwood, the neighbouring landowner to the south. The group was demolished for the erection of Stanford Court in 1932 (Plate 130a).
On the west side of Stanford Road, building commenced south of Kelso Place. Here and in Merton Road behind (now part of Kelso Place), George Smith Stredder in 1851–2 undertook an attractive development, now sadly curtailed. (fn. 124) The houses facing Stanford Road consisted of fifteen dwellings, some detached, some semi-detached, known at first as Stanford Villas. The surviving portions of this development are Nos. 22–34 (even) Stanford Road, originally Nos. 1–7 Stanford Villas (fig. 57). They have stock-brick fronts neatly outlined with continuous bands of diamond relief quoins and deep bands of frieze, now lacking eaves brackets and ground-floor window entablatures for all but Nos. 32–34. The arched-headed doors with pilastered cases are set well back from the road. No. 22, a single detached villa, has conventional quoins and a later bay window. In 1860 a semi-detached pair here was recorded as having four bedrooms in either house, a dressing-room, double drawing-rooms with folding doors, and a dining-room. (fn. 125) The southern half of this group (Nos. 8–15 Stanford Villas), on the sites of the present Nos. 36–54 (even), were probably similar in character, but were knocked down for the railway's cut-and-cover workings c. 1866. R. W. Long, before his bankruptcy, had made a start in 1852 on building two of the semi-detached pairs here, but Stredder built the southernmost house, and it seems likely that he was effectively responsible for them all. (fn. 126)
The existing Nos. 36–54 (even) Stanford Road, rebuilt by Thomas Hussey in 1873 after the completion of the railway, represent a drop in social aspiration to the terrace form. (fn. 127) A dentil cornice runs through the whole length of the parapet, while the bay windows on the ground floor are unified by a continuous modillion cornice.
On the east side of the former Merton Road (now Kelso Place), Stredder was definitely involved in the precarious finances of the Longs. In 1851 he started the present Nos. 1–6 Kelso Place, three pairs of semi-detached houses which he mortgaged before completion to the London and Liverpool Insurance Company and then sold to John and Robert Daniel of Victoria Wharf, Pimlico to whom he, like Holland, had become indebted, presumably for the supply of materials; they were resumed and finished in 1852. (fn. 128) The original structure of Nos. 1–2 survives beneath a heavy overcoat of roughcast with green pantiled mansards, and only No. 3, with its curiously arched ground-floor window, indicates the character of this part of the street before the advent of the railway (Plate 59a). Nos. 4–6 were demolished for the railway works, as were the next few houses south of this, originally built in two terraces, projected by R. W. Long and leased to him in 1851 before his collapse but not built until 1852, when Stredder took them on. (fn. 129) The present Nos. 4–13 Kelso Place, partly of two storeys and partly of three, were rebuilt in terrace form by Thomas Hussey in 1873, but Nos. 14–17, which escaped destruction by the railway, belong to Stredder's work and have his characteristic quoined strips between the houses. An extra house, No. 18, was added here in matching style, perhaps by Hussey. (fn. 130)
Stredder also took a lease of the whole west side of Kelso Place in January 1852 for the construction of fifteen houses, but quickly mortgaged the site to R. W. Long. After Long's bankruptcy he obtained a new lease and transferred the mortgage to Henry Shuttleworth. (fn. 131) He was probably pressed himself, for in August 1853 he advertised all his property in Stanford Road and Kelso Place for sale, announcing the total annual proceeds as £1,000, with houses lettable at between £45 and £75 per annum. The vicinity to the ‘grounds of the new National Gallery’ was stressed as an attraction, a reference to the then intended removal of the gallery to South Kensington. (fn. 132)
Whatever the outcome, Stredder was still in debt to Shuttleworth for £1,000 in September 1853 and had not built any houses here. The whole west side of Kelso Place was therefore taken over by John Inderwick, who built sixteen houses here in 1853–4, six of them undertaken by J. Cherry of Clarence Place, Kensington, builder. (fn. 133) The railway's path left only the ten southern houses standing, of which just one, the present No. 26, survives, built to the same pattern as Nos. 14–18 opposite. Over the tracks Hussey in 1874 built four houses (Nos. 28–31) which match his work on the other side of the street, and No. 27, a broader three-bay house associated with a yard and offices behind. (fn. 134) South of No. 26, the houses of 1853–4 were replaced in 1960–4 by ten neo-Georgian terrace houses (Nos. 19–25C), designed by the architect Owen Luder. (fn. 135)
The east-west arm of Kelso Place is most conveniently dealth with here. On the north side to the west of Cottesmore Court stands a small group of buildings on the remnant of a separate freehold which never belonged to the Vallottons. This little area was severely devastated by the railway. It had been part of a much larger property sold, like the land in South End Row to its north, in 1794. At this stage it was reached via South End Row. In due course the whole property came into the hands of Frederick Pratt Barlow of Kensington Square, who between 1843 and 1847 undertook in this corner of it a modest development. This consisted of three pairs of lowly semi-detached cottages (Albert Villas) and an adjacent group of eight further cottages round and open space (Albert Square). (fn. 136) Most of these houses succumbed to the railway, leaving a much-reduced freehold north of the tracks, close to an unenviable right of way down to the Midland Railway coal yard below. In about 1880 the property seems to have come into the hands of a small local builder, Charles Liney. The works at No. 51 Kelso Place now occupied by Simmonds Brothers and Sons (builders active in a small way in Kensington ever since 1880, when two brothers who had worked on the Natural History Museum went into partnership (fn. 137) ) appear originally to have been Liney's. Their construction swept away the final vestiges of Albert Square and precluded future access from South End Row to Kelso Place. Next door, Liney seems to have been involved with others in the building of Kensington Studios, today Nos. 40–50 Kelso Place. (fn. 138) This now rather featureless group may at first have been a set of stables which failed to prosper. In the later 1880s they became studios, first appearing in the directories in 1889 with minor artists, especially sculptors, in occupation. (fn. 5) To their south, the group of recent and decent modern town houses and flats in brick known as Nos. 32–39 Kelso Place date from 1972–3, when they replaced the old access to the coal yard. They were designed by the Ronald Fielding Partnership on behalf of J. Sanders and Sons (Continuation) Limited. (fn. 139)
Returning to Stanford Road, its development northwards from the corner with Kelso Place up to St. Alban's Grove (Plate 55b) did not proceed until after the death of H. L. Vallotton in February 1858. Later in that year his widow Elizabeth and daughter Eliza, as heirs to the estate, leased a T-shaped plot which included No. 16 Stanford Road to George Andrew Mosse, engraver. It was a double-fronted detached villa with a central columned porch; No. 14 to the north, identical in plan and elevation but leased in 1860, was also Mosse's enterprise. On the corner site with Kelso Place, Mosse also built a semidetached pair which were numbered 1 and 2 Clarendon Terrace (later Nos. 18 and 20 Stanford Road). These houses were taller and more characterful than their neighbours; they could have been designed by T. L. Donaldson, who announced in October 1859 that a house was being built in Stanford Road ‘under his professional superin tendence’. (fn. 140) All four were demolished for the erection of Cottesmore Court in 1935–6. No.12 Stanford Road, which survives, may, judging from the columned porch and Quoins, be the work of the same unknown builder. It was leased in 1861 to Henry Compton, gentleman, of No. 15 Standford Villas who lived here and named it Seaforth House. (fn. 141)
To the north, Nos. 8 and to make a more ambitious semi-detached pair with bay windows on the ground floor and the upper paired windows arranged in a central ornamental stucco band within the brick face of the house, itself bounded by quoins and a deep frieze. These were leased in 1860 to Frederick Burnett Houghton of No. 12 Eldon Road. (fn. 142) The land to the north was shortly afterwards built on by Frederick Saunders, a local builder, who took leases for Nos. 2 and 4 Stanford Road and the corner shop, No. 14 St. Alban's Grove, in 1864. (fn. 143) The lease of No. 6 is not recorded, but the three houses make a unified terrace with tripartite windows on the first floor, the centre one embellished with a royal wedding tribute of Prince of Wales feathers in a segmental pediment. Saunders continued to develop this commercial backwater of St. Alban's Grove with two more small shops, Nos. 15 and 16, and then with the creation of Clarendon Mews on the site of the existing St. Alban's Studios. These properties were leased in 1864 and 1865. (fn. 144)
The Area since 1880
In the 1880s Eliza Vallotton began to sell off the freeholds of many of the properties. The process began with individual parts, such as J. J. Vallotton's original holding west of South End Row in 1883, Lytham House in 1886 and No. 1 Cottesmore Gardens in 1887. (fn. 145) Sales proceeded with gathering pace through the 1890s, sometimes but not always to occupiers, and usually as single houses or pairs. A number of freeholds in Victoria Road and Eldon Road were bought by George Edward Bucknill, solicitor, of Raymond's Buildings, Gray's Inn. This marked the start of the Vallotton estate's gradual dismemberment.
Kensington Court place (known until 1908 as Charles Street) was the earliest street to show any dramatic change in character. This, as explained above, was never directly developed under the Vallottons. After Kensington Court was laid out to its north from 1882 onwards, it became assimilated to the area of Queen Anne houses and flats to its north. On its east side the open land known as The Paddock and latterly occupied by the Kensington Lawn Tennis Club was sold in 1887 to Albert James Barker. (fn. 146) It was then filled up with two dull blocks of mansion flats misleadingly named Kensington Court Gardens, built by Moir, Wallis and Company in 1887–9 and possibly designed by Henry W. Peck, architect. (fn. 147) To their south’, Barker also acquired the corner site with St. Alban's Grove, formerly part of the grounds of Lytham House, and there built the livelier St. Alban's Mansions, designed by Paul Hoffmann and built in 1894 by James Carolan after previous schemes for the site had aborted. (fn. 148) Here the elevations are enlivened by a corner turret and outbreaks of stone ornament (Plate 60c). With two large suites on each floor and a large enclosed light well, the plan was considered Continental. (fn. 149) Opposite, Hamston Mansions, a clumsy but smaller and therefore more amiable intrusion on the site of Jonathan Hamston's previous Nos. 2–5 Charles Street, was built in 1905–6 to designs by G. L. Elwell, architect, after a previous scheme for flats here had failed (Plate 53b). (fn. 150)
Elsewhere, the early sale of freeholds led to a torrent of minor alterations, additions and replacements which have continued unabated from the 1890s to the present day. Taken together, these changes have sufficiently altered the character of the area to call for separate comment.
The earlier houses on the estate were small by lateVictorian standards. By the 1890s many additions were being made, raising the shallow Italianate roof pitches into mansards and filling the gaps between houses. Porches were enlarged, often with the addition of covered ways. Most of these minor works are of little architectural interest, although at all periods examples are found where the original style of a house is faithfully continued. In some cases more substantial works of modification were undertaken, of which only a selection can be listed here.
At No. 25 Victoria Road, the original layout left a space to the south. Immediately following the sale of the freehold in 1896, a new resident, the artist Herbert Hampton, embarked on additions. His architect for the studio and other rooms filling the site was H. G. Ibberson who worked here in Voysey's idiom, having recourse to roughcast walls and an irregular picturesque elevation at odds with the original part of the house but pleasing of its kind. (fn. 151)
Worthier of note is the large addition made to No. 35 Victoria Road in 1897. Its creator was Walter Knight Shirley, afterwards eleventh Earl Ferrers (1864–1937), an Arts and Crafts architect of some interest. Shirley was prominent in the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and the Art Workers’ Guild, and represented the Architectural Association at the conferences convened by the London County Council which led to the publication of the Survey of London. He had lived at No. 11 Cottesmore Gardens since 1892, and on moving to Victoria Road took the opportunity to fill a space to the north of the original No. 35. (fn. 5) Work commenced in 1897 with the contractors E. P. Bulled of Strathmore Road, Croydon, who had no doubt been selected for their solid small-town workmanship. The exterior (Plate 60b, d) is in stock brick with a broad bay window, tall sashes and a gambrel gable, the shape of which was altered on the front following war damage, but can still be seen on the coolly composed rear elevation, with casement windows. Throughout, ornament is used only to emphasize structural expression. A pointedarch fanlight over the front door comes closest to being a feature of conscious style. Internally (Plate 61a, fig. 58), the plan is cleverly distributed round a central staircase with built-in drawers and cupboards. Some structural steelwork was employed to span the large rooms to the rear of the house, which look down Canning Place. It is a work of particular interest since Shirley's social position meant that he designed fewer buildings than would be expected from an architect of his ability. The house was occupied from 1953 to 1980 by Sir Hugh Casson, architect. (fn. 152)
On the older, northern part of the estate many alterations and additions show a frustrated striving after effects of rusticity, early Georgian ‘Old Court’ style or mere unthinking plainness. In the first style is No. 6 Albert Place, enlarged, re-fenestrated and roughcast. An undated elevation showing alternative schemes for work in the original manner of the street exists among the drawings of A. Dunbar Smith and Cecil Brewer, while alterations and a large addition carried out by the builders William Brown and Sons are noted in 1912. (fn. 153) The remodelling as carried out may be to an alternative design by Smith and Brewer, since it is Arts and Crafts work of some quality. Similar work in this Domestic Revival style can be seen nearby, but the height of ingenue disguise comes with Nos. 1–2 Kelso Place, already noted for its suppression of all but the bare anatomy of the original building. In many places leaded glazing betrays the long-lasting antipathy to earlyVictorian urbanity.
The most attractive example of the rustic manner on the estate is St. Alban's Studios, a redevelopment on the east side of South End Row by the local estate agent Charles Saunders. The architect R. Douglas Wells designed a first version of an elaborate Tudor courtyard in 1910. A second scheme altered the layout, but kept the same half-timbered style, with a theatrical external brick stair outside the southern studio, and a first-floor access gallery in oak, all concealed from the street behind externally plain façades. This was described by Harry Redfern as ‘a very interesting piece of work…the composition and detail most carefully studied; the various textures well considered’. (fn. 154) A small garden, paved with old Purbeck flags and enclosed with oak posts and chains completes this corner of ‘Merrie England’ where Wells installed his office (Plate 54a).
The free treatment of Georgian architecture is seen to best advantage in Cottesmore Gardens. Here No. 1, enlarged to designs by A. O. Collard in 1893 to a frontage of eight bays, appears at a later stage (perhaps during the occupation of Ronald Norman, 1910–20) to have been refronted and given its present central eaves pediment, transforming it into a house of some pretension (fig. 59). (fn. 155) At No. 18, the original house was entirely refronted in red brick with a generously glazed bay window in 1908 by the local architect F. E. Williams for F. Arnold Baker. The coloured glass insets in the windows and the bay window buttresses of coursed tiles make this a particularly interesting work, perhaps by one of the several ‘ghosts’ whom Williams is known to have used. (fn. 156) No.20 Cottesmore Gardens, next door, is a less successful variation on the theme. A later and more academic treatment is found at No. 6 Cottesmore Gardens, remodelled by Charles Saunders and Son in 1927 (Plate 60a). (fn. 157) At No. 14 in the same street, Walter Tapper in about 1905 designed a library with handsome Arts and Crafts plasterwork (now removed) at the rear of the building — one of many extensions thrown out into gardens on the Vallotton estate during these years (Plate 61c). (fn. 158)
In Victoria Road, No. 14 was virtually rebuilt in 1912 by J. G. Davidson, architect, for G. Leigh-Hunt. It is anything but academic, amounting to a ponderous treatment in a manner only notionally classical. (fn. 159) Its neighbour, No.16, was substantially rebuilt with similar features in 1913 by Carr Wheeler of Wellington Road, St. John's Wood, although the red-brick front has now been rendered. (fn. 160)
No. 19 Eldon Road is the most amusing of the inter-war remodellings, although the designer is not known. (fn. c4) The narrow small-paned sashes of the tall bay window, and the broken segmental pediment which crowns the front, have an Edwardian air, but this work was undertaken between 1929 and 1931 for the American-born collector of oriental manuscripts, Chester Beatty. He intended to house his collection here, and enlarged the previously existing studio at the rear for this purpose, but by the time the work was finished, the collection had outgrown the space. The plaster sculptures on the front of the house formed part of the Festival of Britain window display of Messrs. D. H. Evans (Plate 57b). (fn. 161) (fn. c5)
The inter-war blocks of flats in Stanford Road are uncharacteristic of the area in scale though not impolite in style. At the south end Stanford Court replaced Nos.9–15 (odd) Stanford Road in 1932. It is entered from Cornwall Gardens, and further details of it are given on page 157. Larger and more up-to-date was Cottesmore Court, designed by Gerald Unsworth, of Unsworth, Goulder and Bostock, and built by Mowlems for Freehold Improvements Limited in 1936, on the north corner of Stanford Road and Kelso Place. The brown-grey brick elevations, rising in parts to eight storeys, have a horizontal emphasis, and are stepped back above the fourth floor. Six different plan-types were available. The flower-boxes fronting the driveway in Kelso Place conceal garage vents, and the curved and fluted walls to the entrances on this side reflect the streamlined modernism of their time. (fn. 162) North-west of this block, occupying much of the east side of South End Row, is the Kensington Gardens (formerly Western) Telephone Exchange, built in 1924 to designs supplied by the Office of Works. (fn. 163)
Post-war development, in spite of some bomb damage, was generally limited to rebuilding within previous densities. The effects can best be seen in Douro Place where the Edwardian interest in free Tudor and Georgian persisted into the 1950s, if in less vigorous form. The houses of the better-known architects working here, Gordon Jeeves (No. 13) and Llewellyn Smith and Waters (No. 14), are hardly distinguishable from those by others, such as Charles Saunders and Son (Nos. 1–2), A. D. Robinson (No.3) and Frederick Cubitt (No. 1A); all have brick façades, stone doorcases, sash windows, and built-in garages. Llewellyn Smith and Waters also rebuilt the former Marlborough Terrace (Nos. 20–30 Victoria Road) in a uniform elevation of horizontally banded stucco. (fn. 164)
In Eldon Road, Nos.24–26 were destroyed, and following an unsuccessful application from the architect and journalist A. Trystan Edwards to build a terrace of four houses as a pilot scheme to illustrate his theories, Nos. 24–25 were rebuilt by J. J. de Segrais in 1955, in a manner reflecting pre-war modernism. No.26 Eldon Road was rebuilt on the lines of its surviving neighbour. (fn. 165)
Finally, a fitting example of the constant post-war redecorations of which interiors hereabouts have been prey is No. 17B Eldon Road, remodelled for Hardy Amies by the decorator Michael Raymond in 1966. This house of 1882 called forth strong measures, and a contemporary account described how ‘that familiar problem, living a modern life in a late-Victorian house was solved by the Queen's courturier by ripping out all the Victoriana, letting in the light, and refurnishing with modern and pre-Victorian shapes’. (fn. 166)