The Boltons and Redcliffe Square area: Introduction

Survey of London: Volume 41, Brompton. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1983.

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, 'The Boltons and Redcliffe Square area: Introduction', in Survey of London: Volume 41, Brompton, (London, 1983) pp. 195-202. British History Online [accessed 30 May 2024].

. "The Boltons and Redcliffe Square area: Introduction", in Survey of London: Volume 41, Brompton, (London, 1983) 195-202. British History Online, accessed May 30, 2024,

. "The Boltons and Redcliffe Square area: Introduction", Survey of London: Volume 41, Brompton, (London, 1983). 195-202. British History Online. Web. 30 May 2024,

In this section

CHAPTER XII - The Boltons and Redcliffe Square Area

Westward of the properties in Drayton Gardens and south of the Old Brompton Road an area extending to Brompton Cemetery comprises some ninety-three acres which in 1800 were almost entirely unbuilt upon. To the southward the area was bounded, east of Walnut Tree Walk on the line of Redcliffe Gardens, by the properties fronting Fulham Road which constituted part of the small township of Little Chelsea, while beyond Walnut Tree Walk the unbuilt area extended south to Fulham Road itself. The only important part affected by residential use was the three acres or so of mansion and garden at Coleherne House, a substantial dwelling house since the seventeenth century. Between about 1802 and 1845 some eight acres more, near the Old Brompton Road, were devoted to nine villas or 'cottages' and their gardens or pleasure grounds. All but one lay east of Coleherne House. These were mostly built, about the same time as some villas north of the Old Brompton Road, on part of the property recently acquired by a successful Mayfair confectioner, James Gunter, and it was on the large remainder of his property, descended to his son Robert, that the spread of building began in about 1850 which over the next twenty-five years or so covered almost all the area with streets of houses (Plates 70b, 71b). (fn. n1) Beginning in the east it extended westward, and after Robert's death in 1852 largely on properties either inherited or bought for the purpose by his two sons, Robert and James. Their tenures were separate, and they granted their leases individually, but were advised by the same lawyer and surveyor. The earlier, and perhaps more attractive, part of the development, westward so far as The Little Boltons, was entrusted to various building-lessees. After 1863 the work was almost entirely in the hands of the firm of William Corbett and Alexander McClymont. They had already done work in the southern part of this area a year or two before under other owners, and were to do so also in the extreme west and south-west, particularly on the land of the Pettiward family. Their work on the estates of the two Gunter brothers and on those of other owners is not distinguishable.

This lack of co-extension between the units of land-ownership and of significant building-ownership makes it desirable to discuss this area as a whole. So, too, does the comparatively unhistoric nature of the largest element in the land-ownership pattern, that of the Gunters, where various properties were brought together piecemeal between 1801 and 1866 and subjected to a common process of development.

Altogether, on the eighty-two acres or so largely developed between 1850 and 1876 (including a small area built-over in the 1880's), some 1,100 houses, two churches, ninety or so mews premises and five public houses were built, and the greater part of this survives today. Of these 1,100 houses, some 670 were built on the Gunters' properties, and some 220 on the land of R. J. Pettiward. About 750 were built under leases or (in 76 instances) conveyances to Corbett and McClymont, and another 180 or so under leases to other building tradesmen evidently nominated by them. The most active period for the granting of leases of newly completed carcases of houses was 1866–9. In those four years 542 leases or conveyances were granted, all but 28 being to Corbett and McClymont or their nominees (fig. 64 on page 213).

The property of the Gunter family also extended north of the Old Brompton Road, where James Gunter's purchases had slightly antedated those to the south. Corbett and McClymont also operated north of the road, conspicuously if not very extensively. This area will be described in volume xlii of the Survey of London.

The line of this part of Old Brompton Road had from an early period been a property division. The area here discussed (fig. 58) was, as to the greater part of it, called Coleherne (or a variant of this), which as a place-name existed so early as 1430. (fn. 1) A portion of some fifteen or sixteen acres, immediately south of the line of the road and bounded to east, south and west by Coleherne, was separately distinguished as Goodwin's Field (C and H on fig. 58), a name already applied to it in the 1530's. (fn. 2) In the sixteenth century all was regarded as part of the manor of Earl's Court. Goodwin's Field remained largely or entirely copyhold land until acts of enfranchisement in 1809 and 1864, (fn. 3) but Coleherne seems to have lost its manorial status by or before the early eighteenth century. From at least the early seventeenth century the area was sub-divided into enclosures, and some of it from earlier. The history of its tenure before the period of building does not emerge at all completely from the records, however, partly because the closes are mostly identified in documents only by their extent and at any given time there was more than one 'four-acre' or 'eight-acre' close, and partly because their tenants' names also afford very uncertain identification when, as is usual, the tenants are known to have had a number of holdings in the vicinity.

Figure 58:

The area discussed in Chapter XII, showing former property divisions by heavy and dotted lines, with the present street layout and house numbers. Based on the Ordnance Survey of 1949–72

The earliest map of the whole area in any detail is so late as 1822. Starling's map of that year (Plate 70b) shows the intensive development of Little Chelsea to the south, the beginnings of more luxurious building on the north side, and between them the rectangular or squareish enclosures of garden ground, market gardens and nurseries.

Landownership to the Early Nineteenth Century

To deal first with the ground landlordship until the early decades of the nineteenth century, a start may be made with the areas C, E, F, G, H and I on fig. 58 in 1715. They were then owned by a Peter Lavigne, grocer or perfumier of Covent Garden (who also owned the future site of Seymour Walk in Little Chelsea, see page 177). The western part, C, G and H (of which C and H constituted Goodwin's Field) he had bought (like the 'Seymour Walk' site) from two brothers, John and Thomas Morgan of Marlborough, Wiltshire — C and H at least in 1699. The earlier history of G is not known except in so far as it seems to have been the property which before 1639 had been acquired by the Southwark glazier, Lancelot Hobson (see page 165), and then and subsequently bore the name Little Coleherne. Goodwin's Field (C, H) had been inherited in 1699 by the Morgans under the provisions of the will of their brother Charles Morgan (d. 1682), also a grocer of Covent Garden, who had bequeathed his shop there directly to Lavigne, formerly his 'servant'. (fn. 4) Morgan had bought Goodwin's Field in 1680 from a William Chare who in turn had inherited it, by the custom of the manor of Earl's Court, as the youngest son of a John Chare. (fn. 5). The latter had bought it in 1641 from mortgagees of Samuel Arnold, (fn. 6) one of a family widely propertied in the vicinity of Earl's Court. (Earlier, in the 1530's to 1550's, Goodwin's Field had been owned by a family called Thatcher. (fn. 7) ) One of Samuel Arnold's mortgagees in 1641, Francis Dyson, was in that year the owner of land to the east, probably identifiable with E, F and I. (fn. 6) (This was part of the rather straggling area, extending also south and west of Goodwin's Field, called Great Coleherne.) Whether that land followed the same line of descent as the western part to Lavigne is uncertain.

All this property of Lavigne's passed on his death in 1717 to his widow (fn. 8) and then in 1719 to their daughter, at that time also a widow, who promptly sold it to Edward Williams, described as of the Customs House, gentleman. What he paid for Goodwin's Field (C, H) is not known but the other parts (G, E, F and I) cost him £1,688. (fn. 9) After Williams's death in 1752 his son, also Edward Williams, of the Inner Temple, leased and then, in the following year, sold Goodwin's Field to trustees for the banker George Campbell, head of the firm that was to become Courts. (fn. 10) Campbell, like subsequent owners of Goodwin's Field, lived here, in Coleherne House (at the north-west corner of B). The history of the tenure of this old house is distinct from though often parallel to that of the adjacent Goodwin's Field, and the discussion of it is deferred. After Campbell's death in 1760 his trustees, in 1761, sold Goodwin's Field to the bearer of a name that became locally important — William Boulton, esquire, of Frith Street, Soho. (fn. 11) Like the elder Williams he was a public official, being one of the Clerks of the Roads in the Post Office. This was at that time a lucrative situation (by reason of its perquisites rather than its salary), and Boulton's nephew, the diarist William Hickey, calls him 'very rich'. (fn. 12) Boulton paid the trustees £1,220, but it is not clear whether this was only for Coleherne House, which he bought at the same time. (fn. 13) The land to the east (E, F and I) and west (G) remained in the Williams family until the 1790's. In 1796 William Boulton, the elder Boulton's son, bought E, F and I, and thus acquired, though only for a short time, the area that still (it seems) commemorates his name. (fn. 14) This part of Great Coleherne was now called Home Field — a confusing change of name particularly as at about the same time Goodwin's Field itself became known as Coleherne. The following year G was temporarily separated from this propertyholding by its sale to Thomas Smith of Chelsea, gentleman, (fn. 15) elsewhere a developer, who left it unbuilt upon.

Some eight years later, in 1805, Smith and his mortgagees sold this land, G, to James Gunter of Berkeley Square, confectioner. (fn. 16) Gunter already had property north of Old Brompton Road and was acquiring other lands south of the road. In 1807 he bought E and I, but not the small plot F, from William Boulton (who had renamed himself William Boulton Poynton) and others. (fn. 17) Boulton Poynton had already sold F, in 1805, to a Samuel Babb, as the site for a genteel 'cottage'. (fn. 18) If James Gunter wanted to acquire a continuous holding east-to-west he was frustrated when in 1808 Boulton Poynton sold his third property, Goodwin's Field (C, H), to a goldsmith in Cockspur Street, Philip Gilbert, perhaps for £3,234. (fn. 19) Gilbert had already bought garden ground at M, extending to the Fulham Road, in 1806 (fn. 20) (see below and page 180), but his family, although it retained these properties into the 1860's, was another, like the Morgans, Lavignes, Williamses and Boultons, to acquire substantial holdings here and then pass from the scene without leaving much trace in building.

Adjacent to the old Lavigne corpus of property at its northern end were two other pieces of ground that came to James Gunter at this time (fig. 58). At A the land had passed into his ownership in 1801 from the representatives of a John Mears, late of St. Margaret's, Westminster, gentleman, deceased. (fn. 21) It had been bought in 1755 by a farmer, John Mears, from a mason, Robert Hardcastle of Lambeth, who in the same year had himself bought it from the Rector of East Barnet, Samuel Grove. (fn. 22) Grove's ownership seems to have derived from the acquisition of a mortgage interest, perhaps of only part of the property, in 1737. (fn. 23) The mortgagor at that date, a 'yeoman', William Clarke, evidently derived his own lien on the land in part from a ninety-nine-year lease granted to an Edward Clarke in 1676 by a John Arnold. (fn. 24) In 1641 the land was in the hands of William Arnold, one of Samuel Arnold's mortgagees in Goodwin's Field. (fn. 6)

At D hardly anything is known of the ownership before its sale to James Gunter in 1811 by representatives of the Pettiward family, of Suffolk and Putney. Their ownership went back at least to Walter Pettiward, who died in 1749, but its origin is unknown, although elsewhere in south-west Kensington Pettiward ownership can be traced back to the 1640's. In 1811 Gunter acquired this wellplaced two-acre rectangle under the name of Glassington Close or (as in 1753) Long Close. (fn. 25)

Southward from I on fig. 58 James Gunter extended his easterly holding just (and only just) to Fulham Road by the purchase of O in 1812. (fn. 26) At that time the vendor, George Groves, was laying out other property of his to the east as Thistle Grove (now part of Drayton Gardens, see page 166). Perhaps Gunter contemplated following suit, but did not do so, contenting himself with investments in house-sites in Thistle Grove. This plot (O) had come to Groves's father, John Groves, in 1786 by purchase from the sons of the builder Henry Holland, who had acquired it in 1781 from a beneficiary of the partition of the extensive property of the Warton family. Its descent, which is touched upon on page 163, went back to a purchase from Sir Arthur Gorges in 1651.

The Warton property in Kensington was not compact, and the awkwardly shaped piece M shared this line of descent down to ownership by the Hollands. They sold it to a William Virtue of Chelsea in 1786 and he to Philip Gilbert in 1806. (fn. 27) Like the Gilbert property northward it awaited purchase by others in the 1860's to be covered with houses.

Immediately west of O at N a mainly unbuilt property with an old house on its Fulham Road frontage also changed hands about that time, in 1807. It then passed to a Gloucestershire family called Batchellor from representatives of the Middleton family whose ownership went back to the seventeenth century and perhaps derived from the Hobson family already mentioned. (fn. 28) Of the properties so far dealt with this is the first never to pass into Gunter ownership, and the account given of it in the chapter on Little Chelsea would suffice (pages 174–6) were it not that the circumstances of its laying out, chiefly as Redcliffe Road, when it came to be sold by the Batchellors in 1859 brings it also within the scope of this chapter (see below).

At L the ground had in the early nineteenth century been held by the owners of the two houses at what were later Nos. 252–258 (even) Fulham Road since at least Ralph Palmer's tenure in the late seventeenth century (see page 185). Nothing is known of the earlier history of the ground, or of the house upon it, unless the latter can be identified with the house of eleven hearths, otherwise difficult to locate, which in c. 1662–6 was in the possession of James 'Bovey' (fn. 29) — probably a member of the Boevey family whose chief property was on the south side of the Fulham Road in Chelsea. (fn. n2) In c. 1670 the occupant of that 'Bovey' house was Doctor John Whitaker until c. 1701, when other members of his family succeeded him until 1724 or later. (fn. 32) Charles Boyle, later fourth Earl of Orrery, soldier, author and patron of science, was born at Doctor Whitaker's house in 1674. (fn. 33) In 1784 James Gunter, in one of his earliest ventures in property in this area, acquired a mortgage interest from Lewis Lochée, to secure a loan of £700, but the Gunters did not acquire the freehold until 1836, when the Lochée family sold the ground to James Gunter's son Robert—his only purchase in this area and at that time isolated from his father's acquisitions. (fn. 34)

The large plot of ground at K on fig. 58, now virtually indistinguishable in appearance from the rest of the area subjected to the operations of Corbett and McClymont, has a quite different history of ownership from the lands so far mentioned. It is still in part owned by the Pettiward family and was so at least as early as 1753. (fn. 35) As at D, however, it is uncertain whether that ownership extends, like the Pettiwards' former tenure of the adjacent ground westward described on page 241, back to the mid seventeenth century.

The last plot on fig. 58 of which the ownership needs to be indicated is J. Together with K, L and I it was generally considered part of Great Coleherne, whereas G to the north was Little Coleherne. Like Goodwin's Field (C, H) its tenure at the beginning of the nineteenth century was still as copyhold of the manor of Earl's Court (being enfranchised only in 1867 (fn. 36) ). It was then in the ownership of the Hillersdon family who acquired it about 1794, evidently from a descendant of the Henry Marsh of North End, Fulham, who had bought it in 1641 from Samuel Arnold. (fn. 37)

The Use and Occupation of the Land

Despite such instances of long tenure, this diversity of ownerships in the area as a whole shows that it did not lie undeveloped in building because it reposed in the hands of one or a few ancestral proprietors with, perhaps, greater interests elsewhere. A sufficiently active picture emerges of land-transfers between men seemingly of a type to foster building development when that promised well. But the occupation of the land remained overwhelmingly agricultural or horticultural. By the time of the Tithe Commissioners' tabulation of the whole area in 1843 the part not taken as the sites of villas was shown to be divided into some seventy acres of market gardens and ten acres of grassland or paddock. (fn. 38) The earlier picture is more variegated. Towards the south end of Goodwin's Field a gravel pit is mentioned in 1753, (fn. 39) and the right to excavate gravel was reserved by the ground landlord a few years later. (fn. 11) In 1808 land in this vicinity was said to be on lease of recent date for the purpose of extracting gravel. (fn. 40) A few years previously, in 1802, the farming tenant of area K on fig. 58 was also licensed by the owner to dig for gravel. (fn. 41) Brick earth had been dug at an unknown date in the part of area G where St. Luke's Church, Redcliffe Square, was built in 1872, when the old excavations impeded the laying of its foundations. (fn. 42) Some five acres of the area I were arable in about 1720, (fn. 43) and were probably still so in 1807. (fn. 17) Part of C and H was arable in 1748, (fn. 44) and rye grew there in 1808. (fn. 45) In 1746 the area L was described as 'planted with Walnut Trees, Mulberry Trees, Apple Trees and other fruit Trees'. (fn. 46) The walnut trees in particular were a landmark and presumably account for the name of Walnut Tree Walk, on the line of Redcliffe Gardens, which existed as a 'lane or drove' in 1639, (fn. 47) a 'warple' in 1753, (fn. 48) a 'footpath or bridle way' in 1797, (fn. 15) and a 'bridle or carriage way' in 1805. (fn. 16) This orchard at L is 'shown on the Ordnance Survey map surveyed in 1865, at the moment of its supersession by houses. (fn. 49) At the beginning of the nineteenth century another orchard, of cherry trees, was at D-E on fig. 58. Starling also shows the eastern limb of M and the south-west part of K as orchard in 1822 (Plate 70b).

Some of the 'gardens' here were or had been nurseries rather than market gardens. In the 1780's nurseries at O and N respectively (fig. 58) were conducted by James Russell and Daniel Grimwood (see pages 173, 175), the latter, at least, a notable name in the propagation of the rose, like his successor here in c. 1807–19, Henry Shailer. (fn. 50)

A comparison of Starling's map of 1822 with the tithe map of 1843 suggests the growing ascendancy of market gardening. At areas G and H pasture was seemingly changed to that use, and the nursery garden at O just mentioned seems similarly to have been taken by James Gunter's son Robert into his market garden at I (fig. 58).

In 1843 the agrarian occupants of the land were five. (fn. 38) Robert Gunter occupied his own land at A, G, I and O as part of the market-gardening enterprise which attracted the attention of contemporaries by its business-like progressiveness: (fn. 51) he himself lived and had extensive holdings north of the Old Brompton Road. At L the occupant under him was James Broadbent, probably dwelling in the house mentioned above as perhaps Doctor Whitaker's (or its successor), which stood in what is now the roadway of Fawcett Street, near Nos. 6–8. It was approached from Fulham Road via the precursor of Hollywood Road, called Hollywood Grove. At J the occupier of the land under John Hillersdon was William Atwood. At N John Rubergall had a small holding under Edward Batchellor and probably lived in one of the houses near its southern end in the area discussed on page 175. (fn. 52) The fifth was the market gardener John Poupart, with a name later well known at Covent Garden, who occupied H and M under the Gilberts and K under the Pettiwards. He, too, lived here, in the small unpretentious farm-house near the south-east corner of K shown by Salway in 1811 (Plate 72). (fn. 53) Salway depicts a barn behind it, and in front a wooden fence that announces the lapse to rusticity after the front garden-walls and gate-piers of Little Chelsea. It stood near the present No. 2a Redcliffe Gardens and perhaps dated from the late 1780's. (fn. 54) Apart from this house, the only buildings of any note in the fields in the 1840's seem to have been a cottage at the south-west corner of H on fig. 58 (near the present No. 49 Redcliffe Gardens), James Broadbent's house, and some farm buildings erected by the go-ahead Robert Gunter at what is now the south end of the carriageway of Coleherne Road, seemingly between the dates of Starling's map of 1822 and Greenwood's of 1827. Away in the southwest corner of K, however, in the angle of Honey Lane and Fulham Road (now approximately the site of Nos. 304a–306b Fulham Road), a furniture dealer's establishment, run by a family called Jackson, was set up in 1812 and survived until the building wave of the sixties. (fn. 55)

Coleherne House to 1815

Having brought some aspects of the ownership and use of the area forward to the early nineteenth century it is convenient to revert to an area notably different from the rest—Coleherne House and its immediate grounds (B on fig. 58). (The house was sometimes called Coleherne Court, but is here called House throughout to distinguish it more readily from the blocks of flats which occupy its site.) Here at the beginning of the nineteenth century the old mansion was occupied by the family owning Goodwin's Field and had gardens that extended eastward across the northern part of C on fig. 58 to a shrubbery or 'garden walk' extending down what is now the west side of The Little Boltons. Here in 1808 the widowed Mrs. Boulton could perambulate. (fn. 40) Like Coleherne House itself but unlike most of the intervening garden this strip was a little piece of freehold, having at an earlier date been the 'headland' of the ploughed land to the east. (fn. 39) Part of the garden was shaded by the 'lofty brick walls' mentioned in particulars of the property, and a 'well stocked' fishpond extended east-west across the garden. (fn. 56)

Unfortunately, little is known of the house itself. Eighteenth-century title-deeds begin the descent of ownership with the occupation by the physician-poet Sir Richard Blackmore, whose tenure can be traced back from 1721 to 1705 or 1706. (fn. 57) His poetical works passed swiftly into 'silence and darkness', and Blackmore, 'being despised as a poet was in time neglected as a physician', which perhaps accounts for his vacating the mansion when he did. (fn. 58)

A large house existed in this vicinity before then, however, and can doubtless be identified with the same site. This was the house 'at Cold Hearne' which first occurs in the records in 1647 as the place of baptism of two sons of the Parliamentarian John Lambert, being the house of his father-in-law Sir William Lister. (fn. 59) In 1653 (fn. 60) and (seemingly) 1665 (fn. 61) 'Colehearne house' was occupied by a James Floyde, esquire, and then by a Doctor Ford in 1666. (fn. 62) The house can probably be traced forward to occupation by the pioneer journalist Henry Muddiman in c. 1673–1691, (fn. 63) being perhaps divided and shared with a Doctor Huybert. Later, this seems to be the house for which Peter Lavigne, the well-propertied Covent Garden grocer already encountered, was assessed by the parish for himself or a tenant in 1696-1701, (fn. 57) and the house of Lavigne, known as Coleherne House, (fn. 64) can certainly be identified as a piece of property with Blackmore's house, as it was Lavigne's son-in-law who sold the latter house in 1723, after Blackmore's tenancy had ceased. (fn. 65) (That Blackmore should have been Lavigne's tenant is consistent with the interest that a William Blackmore of Covent Garden had in another piece of Lavigne's former property in 1730. (fn. 66) See page 177.)

The only certain view of Coleherne House is a nineteenth-century photograph showing the staircase compartment (fn. 67) (Plate 78b). This gives a glimpse of earlyGeorgian-looking plasterwork (rather like that, for example, at No. 43 King Street, Covent Garden, of 1716–17). In other respects, however, the view would not preclude an earlier date for the house.

Coleherne House itself seems to have been freed from manorial status by or before the 1720's and thereafter changed hands as freehold. Its curtilage (the eastern and southern parts of area B on fig. 58) remained copyhold, however, until enfranchisement in 1864. (fn. 36) The purchaser from Lavigne's son-in-law in 1723 was Thomas Morgan of Lincoln's Inn, esquire, of the family that had earlier owned much land here. Since Blackmore's residence in the house it had been occupied by a Thomas Morphey or Morphew, esquire, (fn. 68) but in c. 1724–36 Morgan was the ratepayer. (fn. 69) In 1735 Morgan conveyed the house to another lawyer of Lincoln's Inn, Walter Gibbons, in trust himself to sell it on Morgan's death, (fn. 70) and in 1739 the latter and Morgan's son sold it to a Sibilla Egerton, spinster, of Soho, who was soon said to be in occupation. (fn. 71) The occupant was said to be a Catherine Hays in 1749, when Sibilla and her husband, Sir Francis Eyles Stiles, sold it to another unmarried lady in Soho, Ann Walwood or Watwood. (fn. 72) She sold it in 1751 to the banker George Campbell. (fn. 73) The ownership was thus reunited with that of the adjacent Goodwin's Field for the first time since Lavigne's ownership of the site. It was therefore presumably about this time that the gardens were extended eastward and the fishpond made. Campbell occupied the property until his death in 1760, and in 1761 it passed like Goodwin's Field into the ownership and occupation of William Boulton and his family. (fn. 74) In 1810 Boulton's son, William Boulton Poynton, sold it to Philip Gilbert, (fn. 75) who had recently bought Goodwin's Field from him, and for the next five years Gilbert himself lived there. (fn. 54)

Coleherne House and Hereford House 1815–99

The subsequent history of areas B and C on fig. 58 is carried through here to the end of the century, before reverting to the history of the larger area about 1810. Philip Gilbert's abandonment of Coleherne House in 1815 was the result of his building a second large house on the east side of the extended garden, to which he moved in that year. (fn. 54) This was Hereford House, which in views of subsequent date looks much later than 1815 — a high block flanked by big staid conservatories and with the appearance of a Victorian idea of the architecture of the reign of George I (fn. 76) (Plate 78a). The fact that young Beatrix Potter in 1883 called it 'the red house' also suggests drastic revision since 1815 (fn. 77) — perhaps in 1871. (fn. 78) The Gilberts vacated the house in 1838, and some later occupants were Charles Dance, son of the architect George Dance, burlesque-writer, and clerk in that 'Temple to the Genius of Seediness', the Insolvent Debtors' Court (1841–5); Lady Hotham, life tenant of the Pettiward estate nearby (1846–56); Benjamin Lumley, theatrical manager (1857–9); and Dion Boucicault, a more flamboyant figure of the same type (1861–3). (fn. 79) In 1864 representatives of the Gilbert family sold the house, with Coleherne House, to the younger James Gunter, (fn. 80) at the same time as Goodwin's Field.

Coleherne House on its vacation by the Gilberts had been occupied by, among others, Lady Georgiana Ponsonby (1816–34), W. J. N. Neale, judge and author (1849, 1851), Thomas Dyke Acland (1850), and Andrew Wynter, physician and essayist (1858-63). (fn. 81)

A perplexing circumstance is the lack of any apparent division between the gardens of Coleherne House and Hereford House as they are shown on the Ordnance Survey map surveyed in 1865. (fn. 82) The houses were then and always had been occupied by separate families. The arrangement has a long-established look, but perhaps was a very short-lived state of affairs brought about by Dion Boucicault in 1863 when he occupied Hereford House and had the lease also of Coleherne House, which was empty in that year. (fn. 83) (The same map shows that the fishpond no longer existed although its site was discernible.)

The double site of Coleherne House and Hereford House had been advertised in 1863 as 'Building Land ... for an important building operation in first-class residences', (fn. 84) and the first effect of James Gunter's purchase of it was to bring this ground within the scope of Corbett and McClymont's schemes for their leasehold building estate. A plan of 1866 shows that they then hoped to carry the line of Hollywood Road and Harcourt Terrace northward to Old Brompton Road between the gardens of the two houses and at the same time build over at least the Coleherne House site. (fn. 85) The line of road was marked out on the ground, (fn. 86) but Corbett and McClymont became bankrupt in 1878 and the Coleherne site remained undeveloped. The strip of intended road was evidently let on short lease by James Gunter to William Corbett, who in 1879–80 kept it as garden ground. He was at that time very hopeful of getting an extension of his tenure to the end of the century. (fn. 87) If he did so it would at least partly explain why it was not until about 1900 that the redevelopment of the sites of the two houses was taken in hand.

Meanwhile the two houses survived. Hereford House was occupied in 1865–9 by an Adam Spielman and in 1872 by a Leopold Seligman into the 1880's. (fn. 54) By 1896 it had declined to use as the home of a rather blue-blooded ladies' cycling club, where races were held on Saturday afternoons. 'The track is a miniature Olympian, composed of wood with trellis-work sides. It forms a circle round the grounds, running over two artistic bridges.' (fn. 88) In c. 1899–1900, however, Hereford House was demolished to make way for the flats of Coleherne Court.

Coleherne House had its longest occupancy under James Gunter's ownership, when from 1865 to 1898 it was the home of Edmund Tattersall, head of the bloodstock auctioneers. (fn. 89) It, too, was demolished in c. 1899–1900.

Villa-building near Old Brompton Road, c. 1802–44

The erection of Hereford House about 1815 was part of a significant development in that neighbourhood. This was the building of villas near but generally not fronting the south side of Old Brompton Road (fig. 59). Respectable houses of the kind called 'small' were already stretching out along the winding, leafy road from Old Brompton towards Earl's Court and extending westward the spacious, sequestered suburban development that already characterized Old Brompton.

In the area under discussion a lead was given at Hawk Cottage, built for occupation by Samuel Babb about 1802–4 at F on fig. 58 and sold to him by W. Boulton Poynton in 1805. (fn. 90)

More significant was the building of White Cottage in c. 1809 at what was later the south-west end of South Bolton Gardens. This was on the land (I on fig. 58) bought by James Gunter two years before and was evidently part of the same campaign in which he built a number of villas (one for his own occupation) between c. 1805 and 1813 on the opposite side of Old Brompton Road a little further west. Its positioning vis-à-vis Mr. Pettiward's cherry orchard (at D on fig. 58) — soon to be bought by James Gunter but not yet his property — and the eastern shrubbery of Coleherne House's grounds (at C) adumbrated the northern end of what later became The Little Boltons and the western end of the road later called South Bolton Gardens. The house was subsequently known as Rathmore Lodge at No. 10 South Bolton Gardens. (The name White Cottage was later applied to a quite different house on the north side of South Bolton Gardens, behind Nos. 5 and 6 Bolton Gardens.) The first occupant was John Fermor, until 1830. (fn. 91)

For his next house, Cresswell Lodge, James Gunter went to the other side of his 1807 purchase, at E on fig. 58. There in 1809 he made a building lease to a bricklayer with whom he was similarly associated on the other side of Old Brompton Road, James Faulkner of Jermyn Street, (fn. 92) who in 1810, when he subscribed to Thomas Faulkner's history of Chelsea, described himself as 'bricklayer to her Royal Highness the Princess Charlotte of Wales'. (fn. 93) (Later he subscribed also to Faulkner's history of Kensington, in 1820.) James Faulkner very soon sub-leased the property to a local builder, William Blore, a carpenter in Knightsbridge. (fn. 94) Blore seems to have mortgaged his leasehold interest back to James Gunter, who was probably financing the building of the house, and when Blore became bankrupt his assignees and Faulkner returned the leasehold interest to Gunter in 1812. (fn. 95) In the following year Gunter leased the newly built house, with additional land to the west and north, to its first occupant. (fn. 96) He was William Cresswell of Belgravia, probably an elder brother of the judge, (Sir) Cresswell Cresswell. (fn. 97) An advertisement of the house for sale in 1820 noticed its extensive aviary and conservatory, the 'high condition' of the plantations and the 'particularly beautiful and diversified views' enjoyed from the house. Its appearance can be judged in an undated lithograph, perhaps of the 1840's (Plate 78c). This shows the severest style of the Regency set off by rustic verandahing and an elaboration of sun-shades and trellis-work around the great westfacing bow, evoking the fierce suns of a still crescent empire rather than umbrageous Brompton. (fn. 98) Lady Groves lived there in 1831–4 and the Reverend T. S. Evans in 1835–40 but by 1842 it was a ladies' school. (fn. 55)

After James Gunter's death his son Robert had Osborn House, still surviving at No. 7 South Bolton Gardens, built eastward of White Cottage in a plain late-Georgian manner. The first occupant was a Jacob Jones in 1821. The name of the house derives from the residence of Sir John Osborn, fifth baronet, in 1826–47. (fn. 54)

The identity of South Bolton Gardens as a residential road between The Little Boltons and the northern limb of The Boltons (Plate 79a) has now been destroyed by the post-war construction of the Bousfield School, converting the road into a cul-de-sac. Originally the sequence of villas was extended eastward, after a rather long interval, by the building of Bladon Lodge in 1836 under a building agreement concluded the previous autumn by Robert Gunter with the first occupant, Martin Bladon Edward Hawke Nixon, who lived there intermittently until 1859. (fn. 99) It was again a plain house, facing south over a large garden, with a central bow to light the drawing-room (Plate 99a).

A more highly wrought attempt at architectural effect followed two years later, when Sidmouth Lodge was built east of what is now the northern limb of The Boltons. Again Robert Gunter's lease, in March 1838, was to the first occupant, Captain Samuel Lyde. (fn. 100) He was presumably a sometime resident at Sidmouth as his son had been born there. (fn. 101) Lyde occupied the house from 1839 to 1848. (fn. 54) Like Bladon Lodge, it was south-facing. The facade was carefully composed in a neo-Greek style, with a grave and narrow entrance between Ionic columns in antis (Plate 78d). (fn. 102)

Figure 59:

Villas south of Old Brompton Road in a 1865. Based on the Ordnance Survey of 1862–72, with modern road names

The cherry orchard between the new road and Old Brompton Road had been Gunter property since 1811. In 1840 the western part was taken by Philip Conway of Earl's Court as a nursery and florist's establishment, which continued until the site was given over in 1862 to the building of Nos. 1–8 Bolton Gardens. The eastern part was leased to the occupant of Bladon Lodge in 1839 as an additional garden. (fn. 103)

In 1842 Robert Gunter completed this sequence south of Old Brompton Road when he had a 'cottage' built north of Sidmouth Lodge, for yearly letting. (fn. 104) A Mrs. Russell was the first tenant in 1843–5, succeeded by Lady Malcolm (1845–9) and the Reverend Hogarth J. Swale, the first incumbent of St. Mary, The Boltons (1849–52). (fn. 54) It was dignified by the name Moreton Tower.

An outlier of this development was the villa built a year or two later on Robert Gunter's land abutting on Old Brompton Road at the north-west corner of A on fig. 58. Here it originally had a roadway on its west side, the northern end of Honey Lane, until this was supplanted in the 1860's by a new road, Finborough Road, which joined Old Brompton Road east of the villa. Another plain house, called Brecknock Villa by 1851 and later Walwyn House, it was built in c. 1842 under a lease from Robert Gunter to a John Evan Thomas. He was possibly the sculptor, a native of Brecknockshire. Perhaps because of its remote situation adjacent to a cemetery it did not 'go' very quickly. Its first occupant, briefly, in 1847 was the keeper of a menagerie, Bryan Helps. (fn. 105) (For the later history of this site see page 231.)


  • n1. Tabulated information about the present buildings in this area (and in the part of Fulham Road discussed in Chapter XI) will be found on pages 237–40.
  • n2. Their residence, rebuilt as Shaftesbury House, was that later occupied by Narcissus Luttrell, who in 1716 was evidently aggrieved not to be granted the lease of at least part of this ground. Conceivably he had some 'historic' reason to hope it would again 'go with' the Chelsea house.
  • 1. J. E. B. Gover, Allen Mawer and F. M. Stenton, The Place-Names of Middlesex, 1942, p. 128.
  • 2. E.C.R., 20 April 1554.
  • 3. M.D.R. 1809/4/375: P.R.O., MAF 9/167.
  • 4. K.P.L., MSS. 9019, 9035: M.D.R. 1715/4/80.
  • 5. K.P.L., MSS. 9021, 9035: PRO., PROB 11/209/117.
  • 6. K.P.L., MS. 9022.
  • 7. K.C.R., 20 April 1554; 16 May 1558.
  • 8. K.P.L., MS. 9029: P.R.O., PROB 11/558/100.
  • 9. K.P.L., MSS. 9026, 9028–9, 9033: M.D.R. 1719/2/284–5.
  • 10. K.C.R., 27 July 1752: M.D.R. 1754/1/132–3: R. Brooke-Caws, Notes on the Origin and History of Coutts and Company, 1950, p. 2.
  • 11. M.D.R. 1762 1 348.
  • 12. Musgrave: P.R.O., PROB 11/1207/371: The Merchant and Tradesman's London Directory for the Year 1787: Howard Robinson, The British Post Office, A History, 1948, p. 110: Kenneth Ellis, The Post Office in the Eighteenth Century, 1958, pp. 47, 48, 51, 53: Memoirs of William Hickey, ed. Alfred Spencer, vol. i, [n.d.], pp. 114, 131.
  • 13. K.P.L., MS. 9032.
  • 14. M.D.R. 1797/2/295.
  • 15. Ibid 1797/3/551.
  • 16. Ibid 1805/7/7.
  • 17. Ibid 1807/6/261.
  • 18. Ibid., 1805/1/778.
  • 19. Ibid 1808/8/323–4. K.P.L., particulars of sale, Coleherne Estate, 21 June 1808.
  • 20. M.D.R. 1806/5/392.
  • 21. Ibid 1801/3/324.
  • 22. Ibid 1755/2/82–4: J. and J. A. Venn, Alumni Cantabrigienses.
  • 23. M.D.R. 1737/2/233.
  • 24. Ibid 1748/1/58.
  • 25. Ibid 1754/1/132; 1812/1/731; 1812/6/537.
  • 26. Ibid., 1812/9/33.
  • 27. Ibid 1786/2/38; 1806/5/392.
  • 28. Ibid., 1807/8/57.
  • 29. PRO., E179/252/32, book 40: G.L.R.O., MR/TH/3.
  • 30. B.L., Verney Papers, microfilm, M636/56, Ralph Palmer to Hon. Ralph Verney, 4 Oct. 1716.
  • 31. Randall Danes, Chelsea Old Church, 1904, pp. 198–200.
  • 32. G.L.R.O., MR TH/12, 93: K.P.L., MSS. 58/5630, 63 1379.
  • 33. Faulkner, p. 261.
  • 34. M.D.R. 1784/4/255–6; 1834/4/288; 1836/7/201.
  • 35. E.C.R., 7 Dec. 1753.
  • 36. P.R.O..MAF9/167.
  • 37. G.L.R.O., MR/PLT/4902: E.C.R., 30 April 1641.
  • 38. G.L.R.O., TA9.
  • 39. M.D.R. 1754/1/132.
  • 40. Ibid., 1808/8/323.
  • 41. Ibid., 1808/5/530.
  • 42. B. 16 Aug. 1873, p. 647.
  • 43. M.D.R. 1719/2/282; 1721/4/48.
  • 44. K.P.L., MS. 9024.
  • 45. Ibid., particulars of sale, Coleherne Estate, 21 June 1808.
  • 46. M.D.R. 1746/2/467.
  • 47. P.R.O., C54/3191, no. 28.
  • 48. E.C.R., 4 Dec. 1753.
  • 49. O.S. sheet X/19, 1868.
  • 50. John Harvey, Early Nurserymen, 1974, pp. 201–2.
  • 51. Faulkner, p. 606: J. C. Loudon, An Encyclopaedia of Gardening, 1822, pp. 372, 1213.
  • 52. R.B.: M.D.R. 1835/7/142.
  • 53. B.L., Add. MS. 31326.
  • 54. R.B.
  • 55. R.B. P.O.D.
  • 56. Ibid., 1808/8/323: K.P.L., sale particulars, ut supra.
  • 57. K..P.L., MS. 58/5630.
  • 58. Samuel Johnson, Lives of the English Poets, with an introduction by L. Archer-Hind, 2 vols. (Everyman Library), [n.d.], vol. 2, p. 22.
  • 59. The Parish Registers of Kensington from A.D. 1539toA.D. 1675, ed. F. N. Macnamara and A. Story-Maskelyne, 1890, p. 36.
  • 60. Ibid., p. 40.
  • 61. G.L.R.O., MR/TH/3.
  • 62. P.R.O., E179/252/32, book 40.
  • 63. G.L.R.O., MR/TH/40, 93: K.P.L., MS. 58/5630.
  • 64. K.P.L., MS. 63/1379, p. 172.
  • 65. M.D.R. 1723/6/102–3.
  • 66. Ibid., 1730/6/231.
  • 67. National Monuments Record, BB67/737.
  • 68. M.D.R. 1723/6/101–3: K.P.L., MS. 58/5630.
  • 69. K.P.L., MSS. 58/5630, 63/1379.
  • 70. M.D.R. 1735/4/61–2: G.L.R.O., Mddx. MS. 131(3).
  • 71. M.D.R. 1739/2/50–1; 1739/3/328.
  • 72. Ibid., 1749/2/439–40.
  • 73. Ibid., 1751/1/644–5.
  • 74. Ibid., 1762/1/347.
  • 75. Ibid., 1810/7/183.
  • 76. G.L.R.O., Print Collection, no. 14720.
  • 77. The Journal of Beatrix Potter from 1881 to 1897, transcribed by Leslie Linder, 1966, p. 56.
  • 78. D.S.R. 1871/36.
  • 79. R.B.: Boase.
  • 80. M.D.R. 1864/8/682.
  • 81. R.B.: POD.: Boase.
  • 82. O.S. sheets X/8 and X 9, 1867.
  • 83. R.B.: Richard Fawkes, Dion Boucicault, 1979, pp. 144–5.
  • 84. B. 18 Jul. 1863, p. 523.
  • 85. M.B.W. 928, no. 14, 8 Aug. 1866, plan of Redcliffe Estate.
  • 86. O.S. sheets X 8 and X 9, 1894–6.
  • 87. Corbett Letters, xvii, 375; xxi, 75, 116, 194, 695, 972.
  • 88. K.P.L., cutting from The Cycling World Illustrated, 24 June 1896, pp. 337–8.
  • 89. R.B.: Boase: Vincent Orchard, Tattersalls, 1953, pp. 256–'9.
  • 90. R.B.: M.D.R. 1805 1 778.
  • 91. R.B.: P.O.D.: Plan of…. Kensington, published by Thomas Starling, 1822.
  • 92. M.D.R. 1810/3/568.
  • 93. Thomas Faulkner, An Historical and Topographical Description of Chelsea and its Environs, 1810.
  • 94. M.D.R. 1810/3/569.
  • 95. Ibid., 1810/3 570; 1812/2 781; 1813/6/250.
  • 96. Ibid., 1813/3/54.
  • 97. Burke's Landed Gentry, 18th ed., vol. i, 1965.
  • 98. The Morning Herald, 14 Aug. 1820: K.P.L., GC2420.
  • 99. G.L.C., Legal and Parliamentary Dept., Conveyancing (Records) Division, Bousfield School site, Docket 26551, lease 15 Nov. 1836, Gunter to Nixon: K.P.L., MS. 63 13337, p. 208 (insertion).
  • 100. M.D.R. 1838/3/501.
  • 101. J. and J. A. Venn, Alumni Cantabrigienses.
  • 102. K.P.L., K70/171.
  • 103. M.D.R. 1857/10/162 (schedule): R.B.: P.O.D.
  • 104. R.B.: K.P.L., MS. 63/13349, p. 232 (insertion).
  • 105. R.B.: P.O.D.: K.P.L., K60 18: G.L.R.O., H4/PB/E2/1.