Survey of London: Volume 42, Kensington Square To Earl's Court. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1986.
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CHAPTER XVII - The Edwardes Estate: North of West Cromwell Road
Today the broad swathe of West Cromwell Road makes an obvious topographical divide between the areas to be described in this chapter (fig. 105) and in Chapter XIX, but this state of affairs has only come about relatively recently. Originally the section of West Cromwell Road to the west of Warwick Road was a cul-de-sac which was known as Alma Road when first laid out in the late 1850s and then Fenelon Road from 1871 until renamed as part of West Cromwell Road in 1942. It was cut off from further communication westwards by the tracks of the West London Extension Railway. The bridge over the railway was not completed until 1941 and the creation of the broad arterial highway which is now so dominant a feature of this part of Kensington has only occurred in stages since the war of 1939–45.
Thus although this chapter will be primarily concerned with the part of the Edwardes estate which lay to the north of West Cromwell Road, it includes the history of the buildings on the south side of that road, now entirely obliterated by road-widening. The area of the estate to the north of Cromwell Road and east of Earl's Court Road will be described in the next chapter, and the remaining area to the south of West Cromwell Road in Chapter XIX.
Edwardes Square Area
The second Lord Kensington's initial attempts to promote speculative building on his lands in 1811–12 took place in an area in the north-east of his estate extending in terms of present streets from Earl's Court Road in the east to St. Mary Abbot's Place in the west and bounded on the north by Kensington High Street and on the south by the line of Earl's Walk and the backs of buildings on the south side of Edwardes Square. This area is now one of very mixed character and it was not all let under one building agreement or at the same date, but overall its early development was in one way or another bound up with the fortunes, and very soon the misfortunes, of the man Lord Kensington picked to carry out the new enterprises— an émigré Frenchman, Louis Léon Changeur.
The Development of Edwardes Square and the High Street Frontage
The first of these developments began when, on 30 May 1811, Lord Kensington entered into an agreement with Changeur for the building of houses on eleven acres of land (now principally occupied by Edwardes Square) on the south side of the High Road from Kensington to Hammersmith, Lord Kensington undertaking in the usual way to grant ninety-nine-year leases as the houses were covered in. (fn. 1) After the first five years the ground rent was to be £345 per annum, equivalent to about £31 per acre. (fn. 2)
Changeur was probably the son of a café proprietor who had been imprisoned during the Revolutionary Terror of 1793–4. (fn. 3) The first known record of his presence in London is in 1804, when he was imprisoned in the Fleet for six months for unknown reasons, (fn. 4) but by 1810, when he was described as of Great Russell Street, architect, he was dealing in house property in Montague Street on the Duke of Bedford's Bloomsbury estate. (fn. 5)
Changeur's French origin at once proved to be a disadvantage, for on 3 June 1811 the surveyor of the Kensington Turnpike Trust wrongly reported that ‘Col. Charmilly’ (a Frenchman who had been denounced by Earl Grey as ‘one of the most infamous characters existing’ (fn. 6)) was ‘building opposite Lord Holland's House’ and had stopped up a part of the watercourse there. This damaging mistaken identity was at once quickly corrected, (fn. 7) but in Changeur's ensuing dealings with both the Turnpike Trust and with the Westminster Commissioners of Sewers there were often confusions which may well have arisen from a foreigner's natural ignorance of a developer's obligations to such bodies. And in later years the memory of Changeur's French origin was to give rise to the canard that Edwardes Square had been laid out ‘at the time of the threatened invasion from France’ for the purpose of providing ‘cheap little houses’ for ‘the promenading tastes and poorly-furnished pockets of the ensigns and lieutenants of Napoleon's Army’. This story was related by Leigh Hunt (a resident in the square from 1840 to 1851) in The Old Court Suburb, first published in 1855. ‘So runs the tradition’, he concluded ambiguously, ‘we do not say how truly, though it could hardly have entered an English head to invent it’. (fn. 8) It may, however, be noted that the building of Edwardes Square did not begin until 1811, when the threat of a French invasion had been over for several years.
Lord Kensington appears to have embarked upon the development of his estate without preparing any long-term layout plan, and Edwardes Square seems, indeed, to have been laid out with very little thought for the future. The author of its plan may have been Changeur himself, who in his Bloomsbury days had described himself as an architect. But in a letter of July 1812 to Lord Kensington, Changeur referred to ‘your agent Mr Cockerell’, (fn. 9) presumably S. P. Cockerell, sometime surveyor of several estates in London including those of the Foundling Hospital in Bloomsbury and of the Bishop of London in Paddington. This is, however, the sole known reference to Cockerell's involvement here, and a more likely candidate is David James Bunning. He signed the plan showing Edwardes Square very much as built which Changeur personally presented to the Westminster Commissioners of Sewers on 15 May 1812 (fn. 10) and described himself as architect, of Bernard Street, Russell Square—an address within a hundred yards of Changeur's former stamping ground in Montague Street. Bunning was moreover himself engaged in building near Edwardes Square, having before the end of 1812 agreed with Lord Kensington to take long leases of two plots (one with a house already on it) with a total frontage of some ninety feet to the High Road a few yards west of Earl's Court Road. By 1814, when he sold these properties, he had built one new house (later numbered 13 Leonard Place) and probably (in accordance with his agreement with Lord Kensington) improved the existing house (No. 14). (fn. 11)
The most striking general feature of Edwardes Square is the very large size of the central enclosure—slightly over three acres—in relation to the comparatively small houses surrounding it, apparently the result of a deliberate decision by the promoter which involved him in substantial extra cost.
The plan of 1812 was carried out with only minor adjustments. It shows a range of twenty-five houses (now Earl's Terrace) facing the High Road but set well back behind what later became a shrubbery, and guarded by a pair of small single-storey lodges at either corner of the frontage (Plate 107c, fig. 107). At each end of Earl's Terrace there were to be shorter ranges set further forward, and separated from the main range by the two roads leading into the square, on the east and west sides of which were to be terraces of twenty-five and twenty-six houses respectively. During the course of building the southern-most four houses on the east side were converted into two (Nos. 22 and 23), giving a total of twenty-three houses here (Nos. 1–23), while on the west side the intended southern-most two houses had by 1817 been converted into one (No. 24), (fn. 14) giving twenty-five houses here (Nos. 24–48). From 1825 to 1841 Nos. 25 and 26 are recorded in the ratebooks as being in joint occupancy, but thereafter they have been separate. The south side of the square was to be a mews.
Almost all the houses in both Earl's Terrace and on the east and west sides of the square are simple late-Georgian terraced houses, faced with stock bricks above plain rendered ground floors, and have frontages of about twenty feet. Those in Earl's Terrace have four square storeys above basements (Plate 107b, fig. 106) and are virtually identical in outward appearance to houses in Montague Street, Bloomsbury, where Changeur had previously been working. Nearly all the houses on the east and west sides of the square (apart from the centrepieces) have three storeys above basements (Plate 109, fig. 108). They were, moreover, only twenty-five feet in depth, and although the layout plan of 1812 shows wings projecting at the back of all of them, a more detailed map of 1851 shows that some of them still had no rear projections. (fn. 13) They were, in fact, by the standards of the time and in relation to the size of the whole square, extremely small.
The stylistic uniformity of the houses, however, hides a long and very tangled building history. Changeur's principal backer in the building of Edwardes Square was William Elderton Allen, an attorney, who until about 1804 had been a partner in the firm of Sloper and Allen in Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury. (fn. 14) In 1802 he had inherited some £5,000 from his mother, (fn. 15) and at about that time had begun to involve himself in the development of Little Guilford Street on the Bedford estate, where in 1803 he was selling improved ground rents. (fn. 16) In the latter year he also began to concern himself in the building of Montague Street, where one of his later associates was Changeur. (fn. 17) By 1808 he was prosperous enough to be able to afford to live in the country at East Acton Manor House. (fn. 18)
At Edwardes Square Allen was evidently involved virtually from the start, for on 3 September 1811 he convenanted to provide security for £3,000 for timber to be supplied to Changeur by a timber merchant of Millbank, and referred to an agreement which he already had with Changeur. (fn. 19) Two days later Changeur undertook that all the leases to be granted by Lord Kensington as building progressed should be granted to Allen or his nominees. (fn. 20) The financing of the whole operation was, however, extremely precarious, for by this time Allen himself had already borrowed over £10,000, partly by a short-term loan on the security of a life assurance policy and of two of his houses in Montague Street and partly by granting an annuity in return for a capital sum. (fn. 21)
By the beginning of November 1811 Changeur and Allen had made arrangements with prospective purchasers for the sale of the improved ground rents which would become payable on some sixty-eight houses when completed and sold. The first purchaser was John Robins, an auctioneer of Covent Garden who had already had dealings with Allen in Bloomsbury. (fn. 22) In September he agreed to pay Twelve years' purchase, or £1,872, for the improved ground rents to be formed on what were then intended to be the thirteen southernmost houses on the east side, but which with the conversion of the four at the far end into two became eleven, the present Nos. 13–23 Edwardes Square. (The ground rent reserved to Lord Kensington on each house was to be £3 10s. per annum, while the ground rent to be paid by the tenant or purchaser of the house was to be £15 10s. per annum, Robins agreeing to buy this prospective improved ground rent of £12 at the rate of twelve years' purchase, or £144 per house.) (fn. 20)
The second and principal purchaser was Daniel Sutton, later to become the chief promoter of the whole development, who in October agreed to pay fourteen years' purchase, or £8,232, for the improved ground rents to be formed on the thirty-five houses on the High Street frontage. (fn. 23) These houses subsequently became known as Nos. 1–25 Earl's Terrace, Nos. 1–5 Leonard Row or Place (named perhaps after Louis Léon Changeur and now demolished) and Nos. 1–5 Edwardes Place (originally called Elderton Row after William Elderton Allen). (fn. 10) The third purchaser was William Stanley Clarke of Leatherhead, esquire, who was heavily involved in the development of Euston Crescent, St. Pancras, (fn. 24) and who in November agreed to pay £3,300 for the improved ground rents to be formed on Nos. 4–12 on the east and Nos. 37–48 on the west side of Edwardes Square. (fn. 25)
These three sums amounted to over £13,000, but because building work was not yet sufficiently advanced to provide adequate security for the purchasers, it seems unlikely that the whole of each price was paid at once. By January 1812, however, enough work had evidently been done at Nos. 13–23 Edwardes Square for Lord Kensington to be prevailed upon to grant leases to Robins (at the nomination of Changeur and Allen) of the still unfinished houses, the object being to provide Robins with security for the improved ground rents, for which at about this time he paid the £1,872; and also to provide security for the loans which Robins was beginning to make to Changeur for the completion of the houses. (fn. 26)
Daniel Sutton, who was the most heavily involved financially, was a carpet manufacturer with premises in the famous carpet-making centre of Wilton, near Salisbury. (fn. 27) Since 1792 he had also occupied a house in Southampton Street (now Place), Bloomsbury, (fn. 28) which was within a stone's-throw of Allen's speculations in Montague Street, and like Allen, he too had involved himself in building activities in that locality. (fn. 29) In the 1820s he was also to be active in the development of parts of Islington. (fn. 30)
The agreement made in October 1811 between Changeur and Allen on the one hand and Sutton on the other had provided for the payment of the purchase price of £8,232 for improved ground rents to be made in instalments by Sutton, related no doubt to the progress of building. (fn. 31) The first instalment, of £2,232, was paid by the end of January 1812 by Sutton to Changeur out of money actually provided by Allen—an arrangement perhaps devised because Sutton was not yet satisfied that the amount of building done justified any payment and because Allen (who had already lent Changeur £2,680 on the security of bills of exchange and of twenty-four unfinished houses, Nos. 1–12 and 37–48 Edwardes Square) was anxious to maintain the momentum of the work. (fn. 32)
Precisely when the third purchaser of improved ground rents, W. S. Clarke, paid his money is not known, but on 18 January 1812 Lord Kensington granted Allen head leases of twenty-four houses on the east and west sides of the square—Nos. 1–12 and 37–48, for all of which except Nos. 1–3 Clarke had agreed to purchase the improved ground rents. (fn. 33) Allen was, however, in such immediate need of money that a few days later he sold to Clarke for £5,750 his right to receive from Sutton the £6,000 still outstanding on the £8,232 which Sutton had agreed to pay for the improved ground rents on the thirty-five houses along the High Street. (fn. 23) By the end of February Lord Kensington had granted head leases of fifteen of these houses—Nos. 1–5 Leonard Place and Nos. 1–10 Earl's Terrace—Sutton being the lessee, (fn. 34) but acting, according at any rate to Changeur, as the latter's nominee in order to obtain security for the improved ground rents which he had contracted to buy. (fn. 35)
Thus within about nine months of the start of development agreements for the sale of the improved ground rents of nearly seventy houses had been made, and ground leases for fifty houses had actually been granted by Lord Kensington. The only parts of Changeur's ‘take’ for which no arrangements had yet been made were for the ground on the south side of the square, where stables were intended, and for the future sites of Nos. 24–36 on the west side. The considerable amount of work done by the spring of 1812 (particularly at Leonard Place, the eastern part of Earl's Terrace and the east side of the square) (fn. 36) had been paid for by complex dealings (which are not now fully comprehensible) chiefly between Changeur, Allen and Sutton, Allen being clearly the prime mover.
These dealings continued throughout the summer of 1812. In July Allen resorted to borrowing £5,000 for three months from a firm of bankers, secured partly on some of his leases from Lord Kensington and partly on shares which he owned in the York Buildings Water Works. (fn. 37) At about the same time John Robins, the auctioner, also became more involved. Having bought the improved ground rents of the still unfinished Nos. 13–23 Edwardes Square and having in January 1812 been granted the ground leases as a security, Robins later in the year lent Changeur £2,000 to complete these houses, which were then to be sold piecemeal and the proceeds used to repay Robins or to pay for the completion of the remainder. (fn. 20) In July 1812 John Robins and his partners Henry and George Robins also lent Changeur another £3,500, partly secured on other as yet unfinished houses on Changeur's ‘take’ and partly upon half an acre of nearby ground on the east side of Earl's Court Road, where Changeur was digging out the soil for brick-earth and (after obtaining a loan of £3,400 from the owner) beginning to build yet more houses (see page 110). (fn. 38)
The success of the whole enterprise depended, however, on purchasers coming forward to buy the houses, thereby providing both capital and payment of the improved ground rents which had already been sold in advance. The first such sale, of No. 6 Earl's Terrace in June 1812, was by Sutton, who before October had sold two more—Nos. 1 Earl's Terrace and 5 Leonard Place. (fn. 39) By this time Allen also had sold Nos. 1 and 2 Edwardes Square, (fn. 40) and Robins had sold No. 13, the latter using the proceeds for work on the other adjacent houses of which he had bought the improved ground rents. (fn. 41) All these sales were made in conjunction with Changeur, who (subject to the numerous debts which he had incurred) was the beneficial owner of the houses, while the improved ground rents now became payable to Sutton, Allen and Robins respectively.
The price paid for each house was about £630, (fn. 42) so the total proceeds of these six sales amounted to less than £4,000. This was nothing like enough to keep Changeur solvent, and on 2 November 1812 a commission of bankruptcy was issued against him. (fn. 43)
An underlying factor behind this débâcle was the change which took place in the building industry in 1811–12, as conditions which had generally favoured house-building over the previous decade came to an end, and a protracted slump set in which lasted until 1816–17. (fn. 44) The kind of financial manipulations which Allen had previously practised successfully on the Bedford estate during a building boom no longer worked in depressed conditions, and a brand new building scheme such as that at Edwardes Square, situated for out in the suburbs well beyond the frontier of continuous urban development, was particularly vulnerable.
In May 1813 public notice was given that the bankruptcy proceedings against Changeur were progressing in the normal way, (fn. 45) but soon afterwards he seems to have disappeared, and Thomas Faulkner, writing in or before 1820, says that after his failure Changeur ‘retired to France’, leaving the unfinished houses in the possession of his creditors and ‘after having expended upon this undertaking upwards of one hundred thousand pounds’. (fn. 46)
This estimate was probably a considerable exaggeration, but at the time of his bankruptcy Changeur did owe Allen a large sum of money—probably over £7,000 (fn. 47)—and Allen was therefore very gravely affected. In February 1813 he accordingly made another agreement with W. S. Clarke for the sale (at thirteen years' purchase) of the improved ground rents to be formed chiefly on Nos. 24–36 Edwardes Square, which the latter had not already contracted to buy; but it is not known when, or rather if, the purchase price of £3,828 was paid by Clarke, who appears to have played no further part in any of these proceedings.
In May 1813 Allen, probably now desperate for money, petitioned the Court of Bankruptcy for an order to sell Nos. 1–12 Edwardes Square, all the houses on the west side of the square, and Nos. 1–5 Leonard Place, of all of which Changeur was (or claimed to be) the beneficial owner, subject to the mortgages which he had convenanted to execute to Allen as security for loans received. According to Allen's petition some of these houses were ‘finished and ready for habitation but others are yet in an unfinished state’; some were ‘only in part built and not covered in and the whole are in an exposed and delapidating state for want of Tenancy and completion and consequently decreasing daily in value and incurring heavy charges of ground rents and interest’. In June the Court ordered that the houses should be sold by auction, but in order to facilitate their disposal in the depressed conditions then prevailing, the improved ground rents were to be reduced from £15 in this instance to £10 10s. per house. Allen was to be at liberty to bid at the sale, and if he did so successfully, he was to deduct the sum which he paid from the amount claimed by him from Changeur. (fn. 32)
The sale of Nos. 4–12 and all the houses on the west side took place on 3 August 1813 at the nearby White Horse tavern (now the Holland Arms), Messrs. Robins being the auctioneers. (fn. 48) Neither the result of the sale, nor Allen's role (if any) in it, are known, but in July 1813 he was raising money by the grant of an annuity on Nos. 1–3 Edwardes Square. (fn. 49) Soon afterwards he disposed of such remaining interest as he may have had in these three houses to John Robins. (fn. 50) But at some time during the summer of 1813, ‘having become embarrassed in his Circumstances he … absented himself from his Creditors’ and ‘went out of the Kingdom’. (fn. 51) Thereafter a silence falls upon Allen's affairs until May 1814 (one month after Napoloen's first abdication), when he was described as resident at Rennes, in ‘the Kingdom of France’. (fn. 52) There he remained until at least March 1817, from time to time executing deeds relating to his speculations in Bloomsbury and elsewhere (but never to those in Edwardes Square), his signature being sometimes witnessed by his daughter and another relative, who were perhaps living with him at Rennes. (fn. 53) In 1822 he was residing in Paris (as was also his former partner in Great Russell Street, R. S. Sloper) ; (fn. 54) thereafter nothing more is known of him.
In March 1814 John Robins petitioned the Court of Bankruptcy for an order to sell Nos. 14–23 Edwardes Square. He had, as we have already seen, bought the improved ground rents and had been granted leases of these houses (together with No. 13, already sold), and had then made loans to Changeur to enable him to complete their construction. As with Allen's similar application in the previous year, the order was duly granted, Robins being permitted to bid at the sale; but this time no reduction in the improved ground rents was required. (fn. 20)
The sale of what was described as ‘Four small elegant Houses, and Eight substantial Carcases’ took place on the premises on 16 May 1814. The four ‘near Residences, completely finished in a superior manner, fit for small respectable families, most delightfully situated’, were Nos. 14–17. The ‘eight’ carcases (Nos. 18–23, the conversion of the southernmost four into two not having yet taken place) were said to be ‘well timbered, roofed, and in a forward state’ and for all the houses offered it was claimed that they only needed ‘to be seen to be admired, for the style and neatness of their completion, the beautiful diversity of the views, the easy access to and from town, and, above all, for the mild air’. (fn. 55) The purchaser, certainly of some and very probably of all these houses, was Robins himself. (fn. 56) By 1817 he had completed the carcases and found takers for all the houses except Nos. 22 and 23, (fn. 36) where (as mentioned above) four houses had been intended, but which were now converted into two larger ones because their first occupants established girls' boarding schools here. (fn. 57) No. 22 was first rated in 1818 and No. 23 in 1822. (fn. 36)
Precisely how the tangled skeins of Allen's financial manipulations were unravelled after his flight to France is not known, but the leases which he had been granted in January 1812 of Nos. 4–12 and 37–48 Edwardes Square were all cancelled, Lord Kensington granting fresh leases in due course.
The first of the new leases, dated 1 July 1814, were of Nos. 8–12 to Joseph Cocksedge of Ham Common, esquire, evidently as an investment. (fn. 58) He had previously bought No. 13 from Changeur and Robins in 1812 and lived there for some years. (fn. 59) No. 4 was leased at the same time, (fn. 60) and No. 41 in 1816, (fn. 61) both to non-resident investors, while No. 7 was leased in 1817 to James Turner, a cutler off Drury Lane, who lived here until at least 1825. (fn. 62) No. 7 was one of nine houses of carcases in Edwardes Square which were put up for auction in August 1816, (fn. 63) but the response had not been brisk, for only four of them were leased before 1820; and Turner only paid £490 for his house, (fn. 64) compared with over £600 which had been paid for other similar houses before Changeur's bankruptcy. All the rest of Allen's former houses—Nos. 5, 6, 37–40 and 42–48—had to wait until June 1820 before a taker was found for them in Daniel Sutton. (fn. 65)
In 1811 Daniel Sutton had agreed to purchase the improved ground rents to be formed on thirty-five houses on the High Street frontage, and early in 1812 he had (perhaps as Changeur's nominee) been granted leases of Nos. 1–5 Leonard Place and 1–10 Earl's Terrace. In 1815 he fulfilled most of the remainder of this agreement when he took leases of the rest of Earl's Terrace (Nos. 11–25). (fn. 66) In the same year he seems also to have taken over responsibility for the completion of all the remaining unleased part of Changeur's ‘take’, for, from 1 June 1815 onwards, he was associated with Lord Kensington in the grant of all subsequent leases, most of which he ultimately took himself. (fn. 67)
After the débâcle of 1812–14 he was, however, at first reluctant to involve himself too deeply, and prior to 1820 the only other leases granted by Lord Kensington (besides those already mentioned) were of the following: in 1815, No. 34 Edwardes Square to James Green, whitesmith of Drury Lane; (fn. 68) in 1816, a single coach-house and stable on the south side of the square to Thomas Allen (for whose later activities hereabouts see below and pages 111–14) (fn. 69) and five other coach-houses and stables there to John Robins; (fn. 70) and in 1817 No. 24 (originally intended to be two houses) and Nos. 32–33 Edwardes Square and a stable on the south side to John Campbell of Hanway Yard, slater. (fn. 71)
The evidence of the ratebooks shows that of approximately eighty houses in and near Edwardes Square, the building of which is known to have been started in 1811–13, only five were occupied by 1813, eleven by 1814, and twenty-one by 1815. On the west side of the square not a single house was in occupation until 1816, when the total throughout the area of development had risen to twentynine, with some fifty others in various stages of completion still empty. By 1818, however, some fifty-three houses were occupied, reflecting no doubt the return of more favourable conditions in the building industry after the trough of 1816. (fn. 36)
Changeur's project was, in fact, at last beginning to ‘go’, and with the volume of house-building rising to what was to be the great peak of 1825, the year 1820 was an extremely favourable moment for a speculator to enlarge his commitments. Sutton, at all events, evidently thought so, for in that single year he obtained leases from Lord Kensington of all the remaining unleased ground in Changeur's original ‘take’, that is to say of Nos. 5, 6, 37–40 and 42–48 Edwardes Square (all of which had previously been leased to W. E. Allen), plus Nos. 25–31, 35 and 36, all of the remaining ground on the south side of the square, and, on the High Street front, Nos. 1–5 Edwardes Place (Plate 107c), of which he had contracted in 1811 to buy the improved ground rents, and the site of the future Nos. 1–6 Edwardes Terrace, now Nos. 343–353 (odd) Kensington High Street (Plate 107a). (fn. 72) By 1821 the whole project was virtually complete and all the houses in the square were occupied except Nos. 25–26 (first inhabited in 1825) and 27 (1823). Those in Edwardes Terrace were first inhabited in 1827–30. (fn. 36)
The five houses in Leonard Place which had been leased to Sutton in 1812 were first rated in 1815–16 (Plate 108a). The ratepayer of one of the houses was Thomas Allen, a wealthy tailor with a large estate in Buckinghamshire, who, as we have already seen, was the lessee of a coachhouse and stable on the south side of Edwardes Square, and to whom Sutton assigned his lease of this house in Leonard Place in 1816. (fn. 73) Whether Allen lived there is not known, but the occupant of the house in 1816–19 was apparently Annesley Voysey, an architect, and the grandfather of the famous architect C. F. A. Voysey. (fn. 74) The house next door (initially the last one in the terrace) was occupied from 1815 to 1822 by William à Beckett, a lawyer, who was clerk to the trustees of Edwardes Square garden (see below) and a local luminary. Allen, Voysey and à Beckett (as Allen's lawyer) were all connected with building development to the east of Earl's Court Road (see page 112) and may have been involved in Sutton's developments in this area.
Sutton also concerned himself in the eastward extension of Leonard Place (Plate 108a) upon ground near the corner of Earl's Court Road. By 1824–5 there were seven newly built houses here (Nos. 6–12 Leonard Place, all now demolished), of six of which Sutton was the lessee. (fn. 75)
Daniel Sutton had been one of the first residents on the estate. In 1813 he had moved from Bloomsbury to No. 6 Earl's Terrace, where he lived until 1817. He then moved to the rather larger end house at No. 25 Earl's Terrace, where he remained until his death in 1842, (fn. 36) aged eightysix. It was then stated that ‘he possessed property amounting to nearly half a million sterling, including the leaseholds of very many houses in the neighbourhood’. (fn. 76)
His son, Daniel Sutton junior, had (like his father) been a carpet manufacture in Wilton. (fn. 77) He lived from 1821 to 1832 at No. 19 Earl's Terrace. From 1833 to 1838 he was at No. 5 Edwardes Place, then returned to No. 19 Earl's Terrace, and after his father's death lived at No. 25 Earl's Terrace, where he died in 1871 at the age of ninety-one, leaving a personal estate of nearly £90,000. (fn. 78) (The ratebooks also record him at No. 48 Edwardes Square in 1846–8.)
An early description of the amenities of houses in Edwardes Square was provided by Thomas Carlyle in May 1834, when he was searching for a house shortly after his arrival in London from Scotland. He was attracted to the square— ‘a beautiful grass-square in the centre; houses small but neat’ —where houses were often available unfurnished on short leases at rents of about £35 to £45 per annum. He looked over one house, probably No. 27, and described it in some detail. It was ‘in the worst place of the square, rather dilapidated looking, but which would be thoroughly repaired; rent £35 fixtures included; four stories of the smallest dimensions (which I have measured since): two kitchens, six-feet three inches (!) in height; dining-room with folding-doors … perhaps 14 feet by 22 (taken together) drawing-room above, 17 feet by eleven; back room (divided by a wall from this), where our big Bed might by possibility stand, for the height is 9 feet 7½ upper storey 8 feet 1 inch high, which seems the despicable universal height of such houses here…. Finally there is a “garden” (ach Gott !) of perhaps 12 feet broad in front of the house, with iron railing, and a brick-walled one… of 21 yards long. Almost all houses have in the back Kitchen a set-boiler (“Copper”) for washing, that room being the “washing-house”, an excellent Kitchen-grate … and a dresser … these, with grates, and some other trifles (sometimes, they say, even with bells!) constitute “the fixtures”.
‘These were sorryish prospects’, he concluded, but he returned to look over another house, and later ‘for a second examination of a place I saw there’. Nothing came of these visits and within less than a month he and his wife had moved into the house in Cheyne Row, Chelsea, which they were to occupy for the rest of their lives. (fn. 79)
Later History of Edwardes Square
In outward aspect the houses on the east and west sides of the square have suffered very little change, but internally many of them have been greatly altered, and substantial additions have been made at the back of many of those in the east and west ranges. No. 24 (for many years called Brittany Lodge) had originally been intended to be two houses, but by 1817 had been converted into one, three bays wide with a centrally placed projecting porch supported on columns. (fn. 12) Its elevation probably never had any resemblance to those of all the other houses on the west side of the square, and an old undated photograph shows it as stuccoed and surmounted by a steeply pitched roof with projecting gables. (fn. 80) Until some time between 1851 and 1868 its garden included the site of the present roadway in front of the house (fn. 81) but this ground was given up when it was required for the communication formed between Edwardes Square and Pembroke Gardens, which was laid out in the 1860s. The corresponding communication at the south-east corner of the square, leading into Pembroke Square, was formed in 1827. (fn. 82)
The south side of the square (renamed South Edwardes Square in 1928) has been almost entirely rebuilt. Originally there were two ranges of coach-houses and stables here, separated from each other by an opening opposite the ‘temple’ in the square garden which led into a long narrow yard behind. (fn. 13) Most of this ground had been leased by Lord Kensington to Daniel Sutton in 1820, (fn. 83) but the eastern part had been granted in 1816 to the auctioneer John Robins, who built five coach-houses and stables on part of this plot. (fn. 70) In 1831 Robin's executors sold the remainder to William Collins, who had recently acquired adjoining land to the south in Pembroke Square (see page 271); (fn. 84) and under Collins's auspices a pair of eastwardfacing mirrored houses known as Nos. 3 and 4 Pembroke Cottages, now demolished but probably very similar to the surviving Nos. 1 and 2, were built here about 1844–6. (fn. 36) Nos. 55–57 (consec.) South Edwardes Square are latenineteenth-century stables now converted to other uses and No. 59 was built as a block of studios in 1892 by Leslie and Company to the designs of Charles R. Guy Hall. (fn. 85) Nos. 63–66 (consec.), two pairs of three-storey neoGeorgian houses with outside shutters to the windows, date from 1927. They were designed by C. H. Roberts and built by Higgs and Hill. (fn. 86) Pembroke Court, the block of flats at the east end, was built on the site of Nos. 3 and 4 Pembroke Cottages in 1932–3 to the designs of Arthur C.Green, architect, (fn. 87) followed in 1935–6 by another block (No. 52) at the west end, for which Gunton and Gunton were the architects. (fn. 88)
Residents in Edwardes Square have included: Agostino Aglio, artist and decorator, 1814–20 (No. 15); Ugo Foscolo, Italian patriot and scholar, 1817–18 (No. 19, where he had a room); John George Cochrane, bibliographer and later first librarian of the London Library, 1833–5 (No. 39); James Henry Leigh Hunt, essayist, 1840–51 (No. 32); James MacLaren, architect, c. 1883–9 (No. 34); Norman O'Neill, composer, 1899–1904 (No. 7); and G. K. Chesterton, poet, novelist and critic, 1901 (No. 1). This was Chesterton's first home after his marriage, and his friend E. C. Bentley later recalled ‘the splendid flaming frescoes, done in vivid crayons, of knights and heroes and divinities, with which G. K. C. embellished the outside wall at the back, beneath a sheltering portico’. Later residents included A. C. Bradley, literary critic, 1902–13 (No. 9) and Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, humanist and philosophical writer, who lived at No. 11 with his sisters, when in London, between 1912 and 1919.
Mrs. Elizabeth Inchbald, the novelist, dramatist and actress, took lodgings at No. 4 Earl's Terrace in October 1816. In August 1817 she moved to a similar establishment in Leonard Place, where she remained until October 1818. Other residents in Earl's Terrace have included: Thomas Daniell, painter, 1819–40 (No. 14); George Ledwell Taylor, architect, c. 1819–20 (No. 10); William Hasledine Pepys, man of science, 1836–56 (No. 11); George Macdonald, poet and novelist, 1865–7 (No. 12); George du Maurier, artist and novelist, 1867–70 (also No. 12); Walter Pater, critic and humanist, 1886–93 (also No. 12); Isabella Lucy Bishop, traveller and authoress, 1898–1900 (No. 20); (Sir) Henry Newbolt, poet and man of letters, 1898–1907 (No. 23). (fn. 89)
Edwardes Square Garden
In 1819 an Act of Parliament was passed for the ‘paving, cleansing, lighting, watching, watering, planting, and otherwise improving’ of Edwardes Square. (fn. 90) The principal promoters of this Act were evidently Daniel Sutton and his son, Daniel Sutton junior, who headed the list of twenty-two trustees named in the Act and who alone were appointed for life and were not to be disqualified even if they ceased to reside within the area affected by the Act. In addition to the houses and coach-houses or stables in Edwardes Square and the enclosure and carriageways there, this area comprised the houses in Earl's Terrace and the ground in front of them, and those in Edwardes Place (but not Edwardes Terrace) and Leonard Place. The trustees (all residents) were authorized to raise a rate not exceeding two shillings in the pound on all the inhabitants, to pave, cleanse, light, watch and water the footways and carriageways, and to embellish and maintain the enclosures in Edwardes Square and in front of Earl's Terrace. In February 1820 Lord Kensington granted to Daniel Sutton senior and junior, Joseph Cocksedge, John Robins and William à Beckett a lease expiring at Lady Day 1910 of both these pieces of ground, the rent being £25 per annum. (fn. 91) William à Beckett, the solicitor who lived in Leonard Place (see above), was the first clerk to the trustees.
The garden of Edwardes Square was laid out, ‘in groups and winding walks, in a manner different from most other squares’, by Agostino Aglio, the Italian artist and decorator who lived at No. 15 Edwardes Square from 1814 to 1820. (fn. 92)
The trustees had also been authorized by the Act to order ‘the Lodges or Buildings’ at the south side of the square and in front of Earl's Terrace ‘to be completed or repaired’, and in June 1820 the architect George Ledwell Taylor, then living at No. 10 Earl's Terrace, who had already supervised the building of two squares on the Portman estate, was writing to them ‘with a recital of what I have done toward the Business they requested me to attend to’. The principal item in this recital was that ‘The Temple is nearly finished and the Accounts passed’. (The contractors included Glover, mason, Leeson, bricklayer, George Benson and Robert Lamb.) This evidently refers to the temple on the south side of the square garden (Plate 110a), but Taylor was not necessarily the author of its design, for a building of similar shape is marked on the plan presented by Changeur in 1812 to the Westminster Commissioners of Sewers. (fn. 93)
The powers conferred by the Act show that the trustees' general intention, besides providing for the paving, cleansing and lighting of the square, was to produce a socially select and largely self-governing residential enclave. They could employ watchmen by night and inspectors by day, who were to be armed and to have power to apprehend ‘all Malefactors, Rogues, Vagabonds, and other disorderly persons, who shall be found loitering, wandering, or misbehaving themselves’. The two enclosures were, of course, to be ‘kept private’ for the residents only, and use of the garden in front of Earl's Terrace was further restricted to the occupants of the houses facing it. Finally, to obviate the possibility of annoyance from the use of the garden by the coachmen and grooms living in the stables on the south side of the square, the trustees had power to exclude any persons in occupation of a house or apartment of a yearly value of less than thirty pounds per annum ‘and who shall on any fair and reasonable Ground be deemed offensive to the other Inhabitants of the said Square’. (fn. 90)
The square was originally lit by oil lamps but in 1835 these were replaced with gas lights under a contract made between the trustees and the Brentford Gas Light Company. (fn. 94)
In 1851 the management of the two enclosures was modified by the Kensington Improvement Act, the main object of which was to bring the paving, lighting and cleaning of the streets of the whole parish of Kensington under the single authority of a new body of elected Commissioners, to which these functions were transferred. The Act of 1819 was repealed save for certain exceptions and provisions which preserved Lord Kensington's right of ownership in the two enclosures while entrusting their maintenance to a Garden Committee of residents, who (through the new Commissioners) could levy a rate for this purpose, and in whom the ownership of the railings, trees, shrubs and summer-houses was vested. (fn. 95)
The continued existence of these two enclosures was later to depend upon the precise legal interpretation which was placed upon the Acts of 1819 and 1851 in the suit of Bird v. Allen. The history of this cause célèbre began in October 1903, when advertisements appeared in the newspapers for the sale by the sixth Lord Kensington of the part of the Edwardes estate which included Edwardes Square and its garden. At that time the Garden Committee was under the impression (wrongly) that its interest in the gardens would end when the lease granted by Lord Kensington in 1820 expired on 25 March 1910. (fn. 96) This impression was perhaps shared by the local authorities, for the Kensington Borough Council set up a special committee to consider whether to acquire the square garden as an open space, (fn. 97) while the London County Council decided to apply to Parliament for power ‘to secure the continuance of the restrictions against, and prevent any building over, the garden of Edwardes-square’. (fn. 98)
These warnings of public intervention were probably responsible for no bid being made at the auction for the two lots which comprised Earl's Terrace and its enclosure, and the garden of Edwardes Square and the buildings on the south side. (fn. 99) Soon afterwards, however, both lots were sold privately to John Edward and Charles James Allen and The Amalgamated Estates Limited for £58,000. (fn. 100)
The Borough Council took no further action, and the London County Council's Edwardes Square Protection Bill of 1904 was abandoned without even receiving a second reading after objections had been raised in Parliament. (fn. 101) In 1906 the L.C.C. did, however, promote a general Bill which finally became law as the London Squares and Enclosures (Preservation) Act, but it only applied to those enclosures the owners of which had expressed their agreement with the aims of the Bill; and Edwardes Square, of course, was not among them. (fn. 102)
Towards the end of 1909 The Amalgamated Estates Limited lodged a claim against the Garden Committee for dilapidations in the maintenance of the gardens. This aroused the interest of members of the Committee in their then still obscure legal rights over the gardens, and on receipt of advice on this wider issue, the Committee decided—four days before the lease of 1820 was due to expire—to take all such steps as might be necessary to defend the continuance of its rights. (fn. 103)
In April 1910 The Amalgamated Estates Limited submitted an application to build over the whole of the garden and carriageway in front of Earl's Terrace. On 26 April this was refused by the London County Council, supported by Kensington Borough Council, (fn. 104) but on or about 9 May The Amalgamated Estates closed the gates at the east and west entrances to the carriageway with chains and padlocks: (fn. 105) and at about the same time the company also issued instructions that the residents of Edwardes Square were not to use the square garden any more. (fn. 106)
The Borought Council sent a letter to The Amalgamated Estates pointing out that the Earl's Terrace carriageway had been publicly maintained for over fifty years and requesting them to re-open the gates. This was not done, so the Council sent its own workmen to do the job, and on the morning of Saturday 21 May the gates were thrown open. (fn. 107) The company riposted within a few hours, however, by closing and barricading the gates; and in the course of the following week the Council twice more removed the offending barricades, only to see them replaced by the company on each occasion.
A writ was prepared by the Borough Council against The Amalgamated Estates, but in the meantime the company removed the barricades and intimated through the Press that the gates would be opened during the day and closed at night. (fn. 108) To make clear that there was no change of intention, however, it erected a large hoarding on the Earl's Terrace enclosure advertising the site as to be let for building. (fn. 109)
The instructions that the residents of Edwardes Square were no longer to use the square garden had not at first been enforced; but at about one o'clock in the afternoon of Saturday 21 May, immediately after the Borough Council had for the first time re-opened the gates of the Earl's Terrace carriageway, agents acting on behalf of The Amalgamated Estates started to padlock the gates of the square garden. This was observed by the beadle who lived in the ‘temple’ in the garden and by one of the residents, who opened the gate on the south side ‘and kept it open and refused to allow it to be locked’. But on the evening of Monday 23 May, at about the time that the Borough Council was re-opening the gates to Earl's Terrace for the second time, the secretary of The Amalgamated Estates ‘came with several men and with a slight amount of force removed the Beadle’ and locked the gate. (fn. 110)
Early in June a sub-committee of the Garden Committee issued a writ in the name of its treasurer, Ernest Bird, a local solicitor, against the Aliens of The Amalgamated Estates, claiming the right to maintain the garden for the benefit of all the residents. (fn. 111) The action came on for trial before Mr. Justice Warrington on 26 July 1910. The defendants claimed that upon the determination on 25 March 1910 of the lease granted in February 1820 by the second Lord Kensington, all the rights of management over the square garden and the Earl's Terrace enclosure which the Acts of 1819 and 1851 had conferred upon the trustees and the Garden Committee respectively had come to an end. The judge, however, held that the ‘operation of the Act of 1819 was not limited to the duration of the Lease, but was perpetual, and was intended to be perpetual, at all events so long as there should be any inhabitants of the houses in Edwardes Square and the other places around’. Similarly the provisions of the Act of 1851 vesting in the Garden Committee the exclusive right of care and management of the enclosures for the benefit of the residents had been made ‘for all time’. He therefore found for the Committee; but two days later the Aliens gave notice of appeal. (fn. 112) Shortly afterwards the barricades and padlocks were removed and the residents resumed use of the gardens.
The appeal was heard on 7 November 1910 before the Master of the Rolls and two other judges and was dismissed. In April 1911, however, the Allens served notice of their intention to appeal to the House of Lords, but in October they put forward several proposals for compromising the action. After many discussions and meetings of the residents it was ultimately decided to reject all of them. (fn. 113)
When the appeal was heard in the Lords on 22 January 1912, judgment was again given for the Garden Committee, the preservation of the two enclosures thus being finally achieved by the residents themselves. (fn. 114) In the evening this notable victory was fittingly celebrated. ‘Fifty cartloads of timber fuel were taken to the middle of the garden, and a bonfire forty feet high was built. This was well saturated with oil, and at nine o'clock, amid the beating of gongs and the cheers of the crowd, it was set alight. Later there was a display of fireworks and a procession around the grounds, headed by a band of pipers. All the houses in the square were lit up with electricity or fairy lamps.’ (fn. 115)
Shortly afterwards a scheme to build four blocks of flats on the site of the houses in Earl's Terrace, which involved the re-routing of the public roadway along the north side of Edwardes Square, (fn. 116) was objected to by the Edwardes Square Garden Committee and came to nothing. Earl's Terrace remained empty until shortly after the war of 1914–18, when The Amalgamated Estates Limited began to convert the houses into flats.
The Edwardes Square judgments of 1910–12 later had ‘a most important bearing’ upon the preservation of many similar garden enclosures elsewhere in London. In 1923 the London County Council began to consider what steps might be taken by legislation to prevent building on those enclosures not already protected by the Act of 1906. Its inquiries showed that although over fifty enclosures were already protected by the Edwardes Square judgments, in many other cases it was impossible for the Council to obtain accurate information about the legal position. The whole matter received added urgency through the sale and commercial development of Endsleigh Gardens and Mornington Crescent, St. Pancras, and in 1927 the Council therefore persuaded the government to set up a Royal Commission. Its report, presented in 1928, led the Council to promote legislation which was passed in 1931 as the London Squares Preservation Act, and by which greatly increased protection was provided for almost all garden enclosures throughout London. (fn. 117)
The Edwardes Square and Earl's Terrace enclosures are still maintained by the residents' Garden Committee, but their freeholds are owned separately and in 1981 that of the square garden was offered for sale for £5,000. (fn. 118)
Kensington High Street from Earl's Terrace to Earl's Court Road
The early history of Leonard Place, as the range of houses facing the High Road between Earl's Court Road and Earl's Terrace was called, has been described on pages 239, 251 and 257. None of the original buildings here (Plate 108a) now survives. In about 1875 No. 14 Leonard Place (on the site of the present Nos. 257 and 259 Kensington High Street) was adapted as a carriage manufactory by Henry Whitlock, who subsequently also acquired premises in Earl's Court Road for access from that street. The buildings were later used by an automobile company and subsequently as an ‘aircraft factory’, an amusement park, a garage and ultimately (after piecemeal rebuildings) a Post Office with a sorting office at the rear. (fn. 119)
In 1921 the erection next door of a large detached cinema was already being discussed, (fn. 120) but there was considerable local opposition and the building of the Kensington Kinema (now the Kensington Odeon) upon the site of Nos. 8–13 Leonard Place did not begin until 1923–4. Its progenitor and owner was Joseph T. Mears, a builder, whose firm, J. T. Mears Limited, became the principal contractors, and the architects were Julian R. Leathart and W. F. Granger. Leathart was one of the foremost cinema architects of the day, and soon after its opening in 1926 the Kensington Kinema was considered to be ‘one of the more interesting and encouraging designs’ in this new field. Its seating capacity was 2,350 and it was then said to be the largest cinema in England. In recent years the interior has been sub-divided into four separate auditoriums, but the exterior is little changed. Its north front is set well back from Kensington High Street and presents an austere façade relieved by narrow bands of carving composed of the eclectic motifs with which it was fashionable to adorn cinema buildings. (fn. 121)
The west corner of Kensington High Street and Earl's Court Road was first rebuilt in 1874–5 when William Foale of Lancaster Road, Notting Hill, builder, with the possible assistance of William Cooke, built six houses and shops (all now demolished), four of which faced Earl's Court Road and two Kensington High Street (Plate 108a, b). (fn. 122) In 1899 the ground floor of the corner building was converted into a bank for the London, City and Westminster Bank, and in 1926–7 on this and the adjoining site to the west the present neo-Georgian building at No. 255 Kensington High Street was erected for the Midland Bank to designs by Thomas B. Whinney of Whinney, Son and Austen Hall. (fn. 123)
The redevelopment of this part of the High Street was completed soon afterwards by the demolition in 1930 of Nos. 1–7 Leonard Place (fn. 124) and the erection in 1931–2 of flats and eight shops upon the site (Leonard Court and Nos. 267–281 (odd) Kensington High Street). The architects were Trehearne and Norman, Preston and Company. (fn. 125)
Earl's Court Road, Pembroke Place and Pembroke Mews
By an agreement made with Lord Kensington in or before November 1812 Changeur had arranged to take some four acres of ground on the west side of Earl's Court Lane (fn. n1) (in addition to his main ‘take’ of 30 May 1811 for eleven acres). (fn. 126) About half of this land remained unbuilt upon and was used as a market garden until the 1860s and 1870s, but the rest, with a long frontage to Earl's Court Lane, was leased by Lord Kensington in 1825 (thirteen years after Changeur's bankruptcy) to Daniel Sutton. (fn. 127) The latter had already been active in development hereabouts in the early 1820s, and in the course of the next few years he granted building leases for a score of small houses, of which Nos. 40–52 (even) Earl's Court Road survive (Plate 108c). Builders active in these developments included: William Ward of Lisson Grove and William George Wilmot of Edwardes Square, builders; (fn. 128) Abraham Hillier of Chelsea and William Terry of Shepherd's Bush, bricklayers; (fn. 129) George Aram of Sutton Street and William Scott of Earl's Court Lane, carpenters; (fn. 130) William Judson of High Street, Kensington, ironmonger; (fn. 131) Richard Couness of Long Acre, plumber; (fn. 132) and Thomas Josiah Park of Westbourne Place, Sloane Square, who was extensively involved in building here and on the opposite side of Earl's Court Lane (see page 113). (fn. 133)
Sutton also formed an L-shaped cul-de-sac, Pembroke Place, where a range of small houses (all now demolished) facing west towards the market garden was built in the later 1820s. (fn. 134) In 1868 Thomas Huggett (later to be the builder of over a hundred houses in and near West Cromwell Road) converted Pembroke Place into a little enclosed square by erecting fourteen three-storey houses (now Nos. 15–18 and 21–30) upon part of the site of the market garden. (fn. 135) Within a few years these had, however, degenerated into a virtual slum (see page 247). In 1933 a small block of flats (No. 19) was squeezed into the south-west corner (architect, W. Doddington), (fn. 136) and in 1962–3 a range of neo-Georgian houses, Nos. 5–13, were erected to designs by Douglas Stephen and Partners on the east side of the square in place of Sutton's original houses, whose general appearance the new houses were designed to duplicate. (fn. 137) Now a quiet residential oasis, the centre of the square is ornamented with trees as well as serving as a car park.
St. Barnabas's Schools (now St. Barnabas and St. Philip's Church of England Primary School), were established in 1845 on a small site behind the frontage to Earl's Court Road by the Reverend John Sinclair, Vicar of Kensington, for the poor children of the district of St. Barnabas. (fn. 138) The original single-storey building occupied about half the site, almost all of the rest of which was covered in 1846 by another single-storey building (architects, R. Garland and J. C. Christopher); (fn. 139) and in 1853 another school-room was built above the latter. (fn. 140) In 1858 the new parish of St. Philip, Earl's Court Road, became a partner with that of St. Barnabas in the management of the school. (fn. 141) In the following year the site was more than doubled in size by the acquisition of land to the west which was at first used as a playground but upon part of which the existing western range of classrooms was built in 1875, with staff accommodation above. The builders were T. H. Adamson and Sons of Putney. (fn. 142) Further additions were made to the premises in 1906, (fn. 143) and in 1967–9 the old buildings on the east side of the site were entirely remodelled and extended by K. C. White and Partners, while those on the west side were considerably altered. (fn. 144)
In 1874 the lease of the remaining southern portion of the market garden was acquired by the school's trustees. Here in 1875–6 Stevens and Colls, builders, laid out Pembroke Mews, principally as four parallel ranges of stables and coach-houses, now mostly used as garages and workshops, the two centre ranges being built back-to-back. The rents, amounting in 1899 to £110, were paid to the school. (fn. 145)
In Earl's Court Road the site of Nos. 4–18 (even) is now occupied by two new developments, completed in 1984, for which Geoffrey Reid Associates were the architects and Fairclough the builders. (fn. 146) They consist of an office building and shops (Whitlock House, No. 6) and a small block of flats above shops (Carriage Lodge, No. 12) with stuccoed façades and (in the office block) prominent areas of open glass walling. The names given to the buildings recall the carriage-making business of Henry Whitlock which flourished in the late nineteenth century on the adjacent site of the Post Office sorting office. Further south No. 38 (Griffe Court) was rebuilt in 1923 to provide three small flats above a shop by J. Dixon (London) Limited of Maida Vale for Madame Griffe, (fn. 147) and Belmont Court (Nos. 54–56), consisting of four floors of flats above shops, was erected in 1936–7 to the designs of Fitt and Prior-Hale, architects (Plate 108c). (fn. 148) Kensington Police Station, a bulky plain brick building, occupies the whole block bounded by Pembroke Mews and Earl's Walk. Building began shortly before the war of 1939–45 to designs by G. Mackenzie Trench, Chief Architect of the Metropolitan Police, and was completed in 1956 under his successor, J. Innes Elliott. (fn. 149)
St. Mary Abbot's Place
At some date between May 1811 and November 1812 Louis Léon Changeur, the original promoter of Edwardes Square, agreed with Lord Kensington to take a strip of ground some hundred feet in width immediately to the west of his main eleven-acre ‘take’. (fn. 150) This strip, containing about one and a half acres, extends from Kensington High Street to Pembroke Gardens, and its site is now occupied by Nos. 343–353 (odd) Kensington High Street (formerly Edwardes Terrace), the buildings on the east side of St. Mary Abbot's Place, and Pembroke Studios.
We have already seen that after the successive failures of Changeur in 1812 and of his financial associate, William Elderton Allen, in 1813, responsibility for the completion of the whole speculation had been taken over by Daniel Sutton, to whom in February 1820 Lord Kensington leased this extra strip for ninety-one years at a rent of five guineas per annum. (fn. 151) By this time the site had already been taken on a short-term basis by the (Royal) Horticultural Society, Sutton being evidently responsible for the arrangements. The Society had been founded in 1804. Early in 1818 it began to consider the establishment of a garden of its own, and in March of that year its secretary reported ‘that he had finally agreed with Mr. Sutton for the piece of ground at Kensington as an Experimental Garden and that Mr. Sutton had signed an agreement’, the rent being £60 per annum. (fn. 152)
This first garden of the Society was only regarded as a makeshift, but it was nevertheless soon equipped with frames, a glass-house and a potting-shed. A brick wall was built all around it, and a large variety of bulbs, vegetables and other plants was established. By the end of 1819 it was ‘open to Fellows of the Society, from Two to Six o'clock, in each day of the week, except Sundays’. (fn. 153)
In 1821 the Society took a sixty-year lease from the sixth Duke of Devonshire of thirty-three acres of ground at Chiswick, and the little garden at Kensington was closed in 1823 or early in 1824. (fn. 154) Shortly afterwards a row of six houses originally known as Edwardes Terrace and now as Nos. 343–353 (odd) Kensington High Street (Plate 107a) was built along the northern frontage, all of them being first occupied in 1827–30. (fn. 36) The builders of this standard brick-faced late-Georgian terrace, now with ground-floor shops, are unknown. Most of the rest of the ground was used as a market garden. (fn. 155)
In 1890–1 Pembroke Studios were erected on the southern part of the site, with access from Pembroke Gardens (see page 276). By this time a cottage and stables had been built behind Edwardes Terrace, and the rest of the ground was used as a timber yard. (fn. 156) When the northern part of Lord Kensington's estate was sold in 1903 (see page 246), the freehold of the whole one-and-a-half-acre strip was bought by the Metropolitan House and Investment Agency Limited. (fn. 157) In the same year the roadway which provided access to the timber yard and stables and to the backs of the houses on the east side of Warwick Gardens, and which had hitherto had no name, was officially designated St. Mary Abbott's Place. In 1925 the spelling was changed to St. Mary Abbot's Place. (fn. 158)
Most of the premises on the east side of St. Mary Abbot's Place (fig. 110) were built in 1910–13, several new houses with artists' studios being erected in those years to designs by Arthur G. Leighton (1867–1943), junior partner in the firm of Gale, Gotch and Leighton. (fn. 159) The first of these was for the sculptor W. R. Colton, A. R. A., for whom in 1910–11 Leighton designed a two-storey studio and house now numbered 3 and 5, and reconstructed the adjoining No. 1, both houses having a continuous wooden fascia above the small-paned ground-floor windows and being faced with roughcast. The builders were J. Marsland and Sons of Walworth. (fn. 160) The next, in the same general manner but larger in size than either of its predecessors, was No. 9 for the artist W. Frank Calderon, who wanted a dwelling-house and spacious accommodation at the rear for his school of animal painting. The latter, with its own separate entrance, comprised a courtyard, assembly hall and large top-lit studio, plus kennels and a ‘space for horse’, also provided with another separate entrance. This was built in 1911–12 by Killby and Gayford, but after the discontinuance of the school of painting during the war of 1914–18 the house and studio were separately occupied. Since 1941 the whole building has been occupied by a charitable religious trust known as The White Eagle Lodge, the main studio being adapted as a church. (fn. 161)
At the south-east extremity of St. Mary Abbot's Place stand two detached houses with large gardens extending southward to the northern end of Pembroke Studios. No. 11 was built in 1912 by C. F. Kearley, probably to designs by Leighton, the general manner of whose other houses here it resembles, the first occupant being Frederick Ernest Appleton, perhaps the artist Fred Appleton. (fn. 162) No. 15 (originally No. 13), a three-storey brick house and studio with prominent gables and chimney-stack, was erected in 1913 by George Parker and Sons of Peckham to the designs of Leighton for (Sir) William Llewellyn, later President of the Royal Academy, who lived here until 1926. (fn. 163)
The rebuilding of the east side of St. Mary Abbot's Place was completed in 1920 with the erection of No. 7, also in brick, with stone dressings and leaded window panes in an Elizabethan manner. The architects were C. S. and E. M. Joseph and the builders Dove Brothers. (fn. 164)
On the west side the ground had originally formed part of the curtilages of the houses on the east side of Warwick Gardens and there are few individual buildings of note. No. 12, a two-storey brick house with leaded window panes and a pantiled roof was designed (or perhaps modified from an existing building) in 1922 by John and Paul Coleridge for the artist Alex Fisher. The builders were Chapman, Lowry and Puttick of Grayshott, Hampshire. (fn. 165) Warwick Close, a two-storey complex of dwellings in a suburban style with plain red brickwork on the ground floor, a rendered upper storey and a pantiled roof, stands at the north-west corner with its main entrance in Kensington High Street giving access to a small internal courtyard. Its present appearance is the result of a conversion carried out in 1923 with Robert Angell and Curtis as architects and G. E. Wallis and Sons as builders, of a group of five single-storey studios (Warwick Studios) which were built in 1883–4 by Thomas Pink and Company of Vincent Square. (fn. 166)