Kensington Square and environs: Young Street, Thackeray Street and South End

Pages 46-54

Survey of London: Volume 42, Kensington Square To Earl's Court. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1986.

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In this section

Young Street

Laid out in 1685, Young Street takes its name from Thomas Young, the developer of Kensington Square, and is called ‘Young's Street’ in the contemporary parish registers. (fn. 465) The name Young Street was, however, in use by June 1685 and was inscribed, with the date 1685, on a stone formerly let into the façade of No. 7 (previously No. 2). (fn. 466) Until the opening of what is now Derry Street in the mid 1730s, Young Street was the only roadway into the square from Kensington High Street. It was built up over a period of some ten years, most of the houses there being occupied between about 1689 and 1696. (fn. 18) At least one house was inhabited by 1686. (fn. 467) Very little of the original fabric of the street still survives. The west side has largely succumbed to the expansion of barkers’ store, and the only survivor here is No. 16, a house of the 1690s enlarged and refronted in the early nineteenth century (Plate 21a). The redevelopment of most of the east side since the 1950s has left only three earlier buildings still standing: the Edwardian No. 9, and Nos. 5 and 7, which under their stucco overcoats probably contain vestiges of two lateseventeenth-century houses. Amond the post-was casu-alties here were Nos. 11,25 and 27, all of them original houses dating from the 1680s. (For plans of Young Street showing the old site divisions see figures 28 and 30 on pages 77 and 83.)

The original development of the street followed much the same pattern as that of the square with most of the sites being let or sold to builders and developers, some of whom were also active in the square. Young himself retained the freehold of a plot immediately to the north of No. 16 and was probably responsible for the two biggish houses erected there by 1695, which he afterwards sold to a Colonel Thomas Taylor (see page 16). (fn. 468) The largest developer in Young Street was the innholder and barbersurgeon William Munden, who acquired land on both sides of the streets. (fn. 469) Among the builders who undertook work there were the bricklayers Henry Webb and Ferdinando Unsworth, the carpenters Richard Slater and William Shirley, the painter James Wignall and the plasterer Francis parker. (fn. 470)

From the first Young Street seems to have had a mixed social character. One or two of the early residents were connected with the Court but there was also a fair sprinkling of tradesman and shopkeepers. Courtly connections were represented by Lady Mary Kirke, widow of Percy Kirke, one of the best known of William III's army commanders, and by Peter Guenon de Beaubuisson, Gentleman of the Guns to William III and Keeper of the King's private armoury. (fn. 471) Lady Kirke, whose rent was paid by the Treasury, was briefly the occupant of No. 11 in 1693. (fn. 472) She the moved to a house in the square (see page 14). De Beaubuisson inhabited a house on the site of No. 23 in 1699–1700. His successor in the house until 1711 was a Captain Duperron whose name suggests he may have been a Huguenot. (fn. 18)

One undoubted Huguenot among the early residents was Guy Memen, a ‘Doctor of Physick and Refuge[e] from Paris the place of his habitation in France his Native Countrey who from thence was with his Familie forced in the year 1685 to fly for shelter into this Kingdome because of their Religion and did lately settle himself in the said Parish of Kensington to keepe a private Boarding schoole for the education of his owne Children and some few others who are allready or shall be Committed to his charge’. (fn. 473) Memen occupied a house on the site of Nos. 19and 21 from 1694 to about 1707. (fn. 18) Another Frenchman, Elias Dumisy, who was perhaps a lodger, died at Thomas Hall's house (No. 27 Young Street) in November 1693. (fn. 474)

The tradesmen and shopkeepers tended, naturally enough, to congregate at the north end near to the High Street. The first occupants there included, on the west side, a baker, John Hatter (in the corner house), a stagecoachman, Robert Rose, and apothecary, Robert Poultney. Rose's property, which abutted north on Hatter, included stabling and a stable-yard as well as his own dwelling house. (fn. 475) One of the houses next door to Poultney was in the hands of a licensed victualler by 1704. In 1713 it was called the Bell Alehouse but was later renamed The Fowler and later still the Cock and Beehive: it went out of business in the late 1760s. (fn. 476) Another alehouse called the Bull's Head may have opened on the adjoining site to the north in the 1730s. (fn. 477)

There were no public houses on the east side of the street apart from the Greyhound (see page 11), which although numbered in the square could be said to be just in Young Street, and, indeed, is so described in some early deeds. (fn. 478) (fn. n1) At the north end of the east side, a butcher, Edward Long, was installed by 1704 at what was later numbered 1–5 (odd) Young Street. (fn. 18) This was an awkward triangular-shaped plot which Munden had purchased from Thomas Young and on which had been erected a house (No. 5), with a separate shop to the north (No. 3), and a shed to the north of the shop. By 1740 a slaughterhouse had been built at the back on land leases from an adjoining owner. Nos.1–5 were to remain wholly or party in the hands of butchers until at least the 1840s. (fn. 480)

In the mid 1780s the inhabitants included a baker, a cheesemonger, a clothes-shop-keeper, a smith, a carpenter and three apothecaries. (fn. 481) The local candle-manufacturer, James Wheble, had a warehouse on the west side of the street, near the north end, from 1772, for which his successors in business continued to pay rates until 1828. (fn. 18) A boarding-school run by a Miss Brown is mentioned in 1794. (fn. 482) By 1860 more than half the houses were in the hands of tradesmen or shopkeepers. (fn. 93)

Photographs taken in the mid to late 1860s (Plate 20a) show the still largely unaltered street on the eve of its transformation over the next thirty years. On the west side most of the northern end of the street was redeveloped between 1868 and 1871 as part of the Kensington High Street improvements, which included the formation of Ball Street, connecting Young Street to King (now Derry) Street (see page 84). The two old houses to the north of No. 16 (together with an adjoining shop added in c. 1805 (fn. 483) ) escaped rebuilding at this time but were demolished for a five-storey block of flats called Kensington Square Mansions erected in 1885 by the builders S. and R. Cawley of Hornton Street. (fn. 484)

On the east side redevelopment was more piecemeal though in the end only a little less extensive. Here the most distinctive of the nineteenth-century rebuildings was the Venetian-Gothic Post Office at Nos. 15 and 17 (Plate 20c). This was put up in two stages, the original three-storey building at No. 17 being erected in the late 1860s. (fn. 485) In the 1890s a two-storey extension in matching style was built at No. 15, replacing an old brick-fronted house—with a late-Victorian shop-front— which had been the home of the bibliographer Thomas Frognall Dibdin between 1806 and 1814. (fn. 486) Next door, at No. 13, a sober stucco-faced building with a minimal pediment was erected in 1869 to the designs of Gordon Stanham, as premises for a coach-builder, William Cole. (fn. 487) At the north end the sites of Nos. 1 and 3 were redeveloped as part of No. 61 Kensington High Street in 1893–4 (see page 81). South of the Post Office John Barker and Company rebuilt Nos. 19 and 21 in plain style in 1889–90, with two shops separated by an arched opening leading to stabling and workshops at the rear. (fn. 488) No. 23 was also rebuilt about the same time, probably to the designs of Charles R. Guy Hall, architect (Plate 21b). (fn. 489)

Finally, in 1905, No. 9 was rebuilt in an attractive Arts and Crafts manner for the solicitor Ernest Bird, to the designs of Frank Chesterton (Plate 20b). Faced in narrow red ‘Lawrence’ bricks with Portland stone dressings, it contains a shop on the ground floor with office accommodation above. The builders were T.H. Adamson and Sons of Putney. Wainwright and Waring provided the leaded lights and casements, and the plasterwork in the corridors and principal room was executed by G. and A. Brown Limited. (fn. 490)

The whole of the east side southwards of No. 9 has been redeveloped (Plate 20d), beginning in 1968–70 with the construction of a multi-storey car-park (Roy Chamberlain Associates, architects) on the sites of Nos. 19–27. This was followed by the rebuilding of Nos. 11 and 13 in 1971–2 (Ardin and Brookes and Partners, architects) and by the redevelopment of the old post office at Nos. 15 and 17 in 1973–6 by the Property services Agency (P.W. Flaxman, job architect).

No. 16. This well-known house, with its distinctive early-nineteenth-century double-bowed front, was originally erected in the early 1690s: it was extended southward and completely refronted in 1804–5.

The original house, of which a ground-floor plan is given in figure 15, was a flat-fronted brick house, just over thirty feet in width, and two storeys high with a basement and garrets in the roof. Two rooms deep, it was conventionally planned with a side entrance passage leading to a staircase at the rear. But unlike most other houses built in and around Kensington Square in the late seventeenth century, it did not have a closet wing. (fn. 491) The original house occupied the full width of its site, and the later southward extension was made over land which had previously formed part of the curtilage of No. 45 Kensington Square.

It is not known who built the original house or under what terms and conditions it was erected. The first occupant was a Dr. Ambrose Adams. but he was not the owner of the property. Dr. Adams, who in 1694 had been the first inhabitant of No. 25 Kensington Square, occupied the Young Street house from 1695 to 1700 and again from 1709 to 1710. (fn. 18) By 1700 the freehold belonged to Nicholas Goodwin, esquire, of Fulham, who also owned property in the City, and it remained in the ownership of his heirs until 1754. (fn. 492) In that year it was bought from Goodwin's heirs by John Richards of St. Andrew's, Goodwin's, a cabinet-maker, who Occupied the house from about 1760 until his death in 1773. (fn. 493) (fn. n2) In his will Richards described it as ‘the Most Convenient house in Kensington as at a Great Expense I made it so’ (fn. 495) What exactly he did in the way of improvements cannot now be identified, but he was probably responsible for papering the first-floor landing with a mid-eighteenth-century scenic wallpaper depicting figures among classical ruins, fragments of which were discovered in 1984 (Plate 22a). (fn. n3)

The small extension behind the staircase, originally only two storeys high with two arched openings on the ground floor, appears to have been added in the second half of the eighteenth century and is perhaps another of Richards's improvements.

After Richards's death his window, who under the terms of her marriage settlement enjoyed a life interest in the house, continued to live there until 1782. (fn. 406) The next occupant, from 1783, was Thomas Hardwick, surgeon and apothecary, who in 1788 bought the freehold from Richards's executors. (fn. 497) In 1804 Hardwick purchased the adjoining property to the south at No. 45 Kensington Square. (fn. 498) This enabled him to extend No. 16 southward by one bay in 1804–5 (fig. 15). (fn. 18) At the same time the front of the house was rebuilt in its present from, a satisfying but unflinchingly plain two-storey composition in brown brick, with two segmentally bowed bays breaking forward of the entrance bay. The widely spaced window-openings are undressed, as is the door-opening in which is set a simple non-elassical doorcase incorporating a rectangular light. A plain bandcourse of stone or stucco runs through below the first-floor windows and the front is finished with a simply moulded coping (Plate 21a). Inside, the hall was evidently enlarged at the expense of the old front room, and the staircase appears to have been rebuilt slightly forward of its original position. It was probably also at this time that the back of the house was raised to make a third storey in place of the original garrets. It is not known whom Hardwick employed to design and carry out these alterations.

When the work was completed Hardwick gave No. 45 Kensington Square to his partner, John Merriman. (fn. 499) Hardwick himself continued to live at No. 16 Young Street until his death in 1825, and his window remained there until 1835. (fn. 500) After Sarah Hardwict's death the house descended under the terms of her husband's will to his godson, Thomas Hardwick Merriman, one of the sons of John Merriman; and from 1835 to 1844 it was occupied by another of Merriman's sons, the surgeon John Merriman the younger. (fn. 84)

Figure 15:

No. 16 Young Street. Groung-and first-floor plans in c 1984, and a reconstruction of the ground-floor plan in c1800

Between 1846 and 1853and 1853 No. 16 was the home of William Makepeace Thackeray (one of Merriman's patients), whose residence here is marked by a Blue — or rather brown —Plaque above the front door put up in 1905. Thackeray described the house (then numbered 13 Young Street) in a letter to his mother in July 1846. ‘There are 2 capital bed-rooms & a little sitting room for you and GP [Thackeray's step-father] —a famous bed room for G.M [Thackeray's grandmother] on the first floor —2 rooms for the children on the second very airy & comfortable; a couple of rooms big enough for Servants, & 2 little ones quite large enough for me— There's a good study for me down stairs & a dining room & drawing room, and a little court yard or garden and a little green house: and kensington Gardens at the gate, and omnibuses every 2 minutes What can mortal want more (fn. 503) His secretary. Eyre Growe, later recalled an occasion when, catching sight of the house from the top of Young Street, Thackeray thought the two bowed bays flanking the front entrance gave it the air of a feudal castle, and exclaimed ‘I’II have a flagstaff put over the coping of the wall, and hoist a standard up when I'm at home ’ (fn. 502) Vanity Fair, Henry Esmond and Pendennis were all written in Young Street. Thackeray's study was the ground-floor room at the back overlooking the garden, which his daughter described as ’not tidy… but it was full of sweet things. There were verbenas—red, blue and scented; and there were lovely stacks of flags … and bunches of London Pride’ (fn. 503)

Thackeray left Young Street in 1853 before the expiry of this lease, and for a few month the house was sub-let to William W.F. Synge, a young English diplomat with an American wife whom Thackeray had met in the United States. (fn. 504)

From 1873 to 1893 No. 16 was occupied by the painter G.B. O'Neill, whose son, the composer Norman O'Neill, was born in the house in 1875. (fn. 505) G. B. O'Neill set up his studio in the ground-floor back room which Thackeray had used for a study, and he seems to have been responsible for making the bow window here and in the room above. Beneath the studio window a plaster scroll or ‘entablature’ designed by O'Neill's friend Norman Shaw was erected to commemorate Thackeray's residence at No. 16. This was inscribed with a monogram of Thackeray's initials, the dates of his occupation of the house and the names of the three novels written in Young Street; it had disappeared by 1904 (fn. 506) (fn. n4)

A later occupant of No. 16. from 1924 to 1931, was Sir Maurice Linford Gwyer, Treasury Solicitor and afterwards Chief Justice of India. (fn. 93)

After the war of 1939–45 John Barker and Company, who had bought the freehold of No. 16 in 1924, (fn. 508) wanted to use the back garden as a loading bay. This proposal, which also involved taking the adjoining back gardens of Nos. 42–45 Kensington Square, was refused by the London County Council, but went ahead after Barkers had successfully appealed against that decision in 1949. (fn. 36)

The interior of the house is not particularly remarkable. On the ground floor the entrance hall and the two rooms on the north side are simply panelled, as is the rear room on the first floor. A round-arched opening, the spandrels of which are pierced by small ‘port-holes’, divides the entrance hall from the staircase compartment. The staircase itself, dating from the early nineteenth century, has plain square balusters, elegant turned newels and a thin mahogany handrail.

In 1984 the house was heavily restored and extended in the south-west corner. (fn. 509)

Nos. 25 and 27. These houses, demolished since the war of 1939–45 in face of face of considerable local opposition, were among the oldest and most venerable in Young Street, dating from the earliest period of the street's development in the late 1680s (Plate 21b). Both, but particularly No. 27, were said to be in a poor state of repair, and in 1952 the London County Council was not disposed to object to their demolition when John Barker and Company, who owned the freeholds, wanted the sites for an extension to their bakery behind Nos. 17–23 Young Street. Although Barkers did not proceed with this scheme, No. 27 was pulled down in 1956. (fn. 36) No. 25 was threatened with demolition in 1958, when the two sites were required for a ‘temporary’ car park to offset the loss of parking space caused by the building of the public library on a site in Hornton Street. (fn. 509) The house survived, however, until the 1960s, being demolished for the multi-storey car park erected in 1968–70.

Both houses appear to have been erected in about 1685—6. At No. 25 (formerly No. 10 and later also known as Felday House) the builder was a bricklayer, Henry webb the elder. (fn. 510) Webb also built the house next door but one to the south which become the Gryhound tavern, and was associated with the construction of Nos. 43 and 44 Kensington Square. He and his family are recorded as living in Young Street in February 1686 and may have been the first occupants of No. 25. (fn. 511) As originally built the house was probably only two storeys high with roof garrets. It was later raised a whole storey, and the ground storey altered probably at a late date still (Plate 21b). In 1887 the house was extended at the back by Philip Webb for John Frederick Bowman, solicitor son of the ophthalmic surgeon Sir William Bowman for whom Webb had previously designed Joldwynds in Surrey. (fn. 512) Webb's extension, in brick with some sparse stone dressings, was characteristically workmanlike and unadorned. On the south side a canted bay with unmoulded mullion windows rose through two storeys finishing in a large cove which served to support a balcony protected by plain iron railings.

At No. 27 (formerly No. 11 and later also known as the Little House) the builder was James Wignall of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, a painter. (fn. 513) He was one of the workmen employed on the finishing of No. 30 Soho Square in 1685–6, where one of his fellow employees was Thomas Young. (fn. 514) The house appears to have been first occupied in 1691. (fn. 18) Only two storeys high, with roof garrets, it had timber closets at the rear (fn. 515) The house was never heightened but was refronted, probably at the end of the eighteenth century, with three bays (perhaps replacing five) of widely spaced squareish windows. The wooden hood above the front door shown in Plate 21b was added in 1899 by the architect Leonard Stokes, who was briefly the occupant in 1902–3, (fn. 516) during which time the house was known as No. 1A Kensington Square.

Previous occupants had included the surgeon, James N. Merriman, 1833–47, and the marine painter, Alfred Clint, 1864–74. Thackeray's daughter, Anne, who spent part of her childhood at No. 16 opposite, lived at No. 27 with her husband, Richmond Ritchie, an official in the India Office, from 1878 to 1884, when they removed to a newly built house in Wetherby Place (see page 165). (fn. c1) Between 1889 and 1898 it was occupied by the classical scholar and literary critic, J.W.Mackail, then a civil servant in the Education Department. (Mackail's daughter, ther novelist Angela Thirkell, who was born in the house in 1890, described her early life there in her first book, Three Houses, published in 1931.)

Figure 16:

No. 27 Young Street, plans, elevations and section in 1955. Demolished

Thackeray Street to South End

The irregularly shaped space formed by the junction of narrow roadways at what is generally called ‘South End’ (fig. 2 on page 10) is a very old feature of this area, derving from the first building-period of Kensington Square. Early elements are the former stabling at the back of the houses on the south side of Kensington Square now represented by the north side of the cul-de-sac officially named South End, and the route to Thomas Young's bowling green now represented by the line of Ansdell Street and South End Row (see page 8). The South End area is shown on Rocque's map of 1741–6 with essentially its present configuration. The coming together here of various smallish landholdings inhibited redevelopment thereafter in a backwater where, furthermore, drainage was a problem. Nowadays the large sewer-vent pipe in the centre of the carriageway, and the flower-bed under a pink cherry tree that occupies a re-entrant angle shown by Rocque, symbolize a mixed but at present ‘improving’ neighbourhood. No buildings in this vicinity are of earlier date than the small handful of houses erected in the early nineteenth century in South End Row and at the corner of Ansdell Street and St. Alban's Grove (see page 53). What can be seen is mostly of this century, some dating (like other buildings now demolished) from its first decade, when a very miscellaneous rebuilding period created new workshops, garages, studios and houses and a new sewer. In 1939 the area was still largely a ‘village’, if a lightly industrialized one, where the local shopkeepers nevertheless expected the ‘cliffs’ of Kensington's big new buildings to ‘close in on the old South End.’ (fn. 517) This has not happen, the conversion to ‘gentrified’ houses and offices having served the cause of conservation. By 1972 the longstanding use for shops, workshops, storage, and stables or garages was receding sufficiently for a householder to complain that even office-use was causing a ‘residential’ area to be ‘increasingly spoiled by commercial development.’ (fn. 518)

Thackeray Street and Ansdell Street

Thackeray Street was laid out in 1900–1 in partial fulfilment both of a private scheme authorized by an Act of Parliament in 1896 (fn. 519) and of a wider ambition to improve the southern egress from Kensington Square and the amenities of the neighbourhood that had been cherished by the local authorities since at least 1881. The undertakers named in the Act of 1896 were an East India merchan in Mincing Lane, C.W. Simson, and a solicitor in Broad Street, G.R. Mewburn. The more important figures in the development, however. Were Albert James Barker (1856–1909), a local surveyor, and his close associate and contemporary, R.J. Bowerman, a solicitor in Gray's Inn. (fn. 93) Barker— the father of Harley Granville Barker—had since 1882 been accumulating property about here (fig. 17a) in which Bowerman also had extensive mortgage interests, and they were represented in the Act by Simson and Mewburn only as recently recruited financial backers. (fn. 520) (fn. n5)

Barker's first venture in Thackeray Street antedated the street itself, when his firm, Barker and Roscoe, of Earl's Court Road, had the present Nos. 16–19 (consec.) Kensington Court Place and Nos. 1 and 3 Thackeray Street built in 1883 on a site bought by barker in the previous year and abutting northward on the narrow Charles Place. (fn. 523) The building comprises shops, flats and studios and was evidently conceived with an eye to the enhancement of the area promised by the making of Kensington Court opposite from 1882 onwards. The architect, who produced an unflustered design in red brick to accommodate this mixture of uses, was possibly one of two associates of Baker and Roscoe, W.G. Flint and H. Powys Adams. (fn. 524) (fn. n6) Barker was thenceforward interested in the improvement of the constricted and irregular line of James Place and Charles Place. In 1886 he unsuccessfully offered £400 for this purpose to the Kensington Vestry, which had been alerted to the problem by its own surveyo for some years past. (fn. 526) Barker's interest here was strengthened when he bought the whole east side of Kensington Court Place, then virtually empty of building, in December 1886. Two new blocks of flats called Kensington Court Gardens were quickly built here by Frederick Moir in 1887–9: a third block, St. Alban's Mansions, followed on in 1894 to designs by Paul Hoffmann (see page 147). (fn. 527)

In 1888 Barker and Moir, with Bowerman's cooperation, obtained an Act of parliament empowering them to make the desired street, approximately on the line of Thackeray Street, as part of a larger scheme by the architect W.J. Green to give more directly southward communication from kensington Square across the site of No. 13 (fig. 17b). Barker and Moir bought some property, but this was again in Kensington Court Place, on its west side, (fn. 528) and how far the scheme in its larger aspect was seriously intended is hard to say. The late 1880s were a doubtful time in the Kensington housing market and in 1991, when Barker's and Moir's powers of compulsory purchase were nearing expiry, Barker and Bowerman appeales to the Vestry for large financial help. The vestry, recommended by its surveyor either to give some help towards a scheme that promised a nearly sixfold increase of rateable values within its area, or to take over the work itself, did neither, and the Act of 1888 lapsed. (fn. 529)

Figure 17:

James (now Ansdell) Street area. 2, in c. 1862–72: the stippling indicates the extent and dates of A.J. Barker's later purchases; the proposed streets authorised by the Act of 1888;c, the proposed streets authorized by the Act of 1896

The vestry's more urgent concern was the insanitary and dangerous state of James (now Ansdell) Street, with its small, badly planned houses — some of them perhaps contemporary with the building of Kensington Square (Plate 22c). (fn. 530) About 384 people lived in the little street. or ten to a house, the most numerous heads of families being labourers, building-trades workmen and laundresses or washerwomen. (fn. 531) From 1891 to 1894 the Vestry, goaded by its Medical Officer of Health, tried to grapple with this problem. It obtained Closing Orders on, and bought up, many of the houses. (fn. 532) and appealed to the young London County Council to help it under the Houseing of the Working Classes Act of 1890. (fn. 533) Its surveyour produced a scheme for rehousing the inhabitants on the site. (fn. 534) But there was opposition from adjacent owners, (fn. 535) as well as some resistance within the Vestry itself to its direct involvement in working-class housing, embodied in the buildervestryman Thomas Huggett. (fn. 536) Most crucially, there was non-co-operation from the London County Council, which thought the site too confined for the purpose. (fn. 517)

In 1895 the Vestry thus had properties and a degree of moral commitment in James Street without quite knowing what to do about either. One of the objectiors to its scheme there had been Barker, doubtless to secure his own property from too great proximity to new working-class dwellings. He and Bowerman now persuaded the Vestry not to dispose of its ground in James Street and promised to undertake a large scheme under a new Act of Parliament if the Vestry would give financial help. (fn. 538) The Vestry agreed to give £8,600 (fn. 539)

The new scheme, by the architect Walter Stair, contained a not-very-convincing version of a route southward from Kensington Square (fig. 17c), (fn. 540) but as soon as the Act was obtained, in 1896, Barker and bowerman made it clear they were really only interested in the ‘Thackeray Street’ line, pleading the ‘cost of money’ as the obstacle to financing the larger scheme. (fn. 541) By then Barker owned the north side of the intended street. (fn. 542) which he gave a curved alignment, probably to economize land-purchases on the south side by sacrificing some of his site at the croner of Kensington Square (fig. 2)

This was a not unpropitious time for residential building in Kensington but the developers nevertheless delayed implementing even their reduced scheme. The years 1897–8 passed in ‘deadlock’ between them and the Vestry, while south of the intended line James Street continued to deteriorate. (fn. 543) Shortly before the powers of compulsory purchase again expired, in 1899, Barker and Bowerman tried to get a subvention of £6,000 from the Vestry for their reduced scheme, and obtained £5,000 (fn. 544) (The transaction earned the Vestry an outspoken condemnation from the London County Council in 1903— posthumously, however, as the Vestry had by then been succeeded by the Royal Borough of Kensington. In the eyes of the County Council the Vestry's fault had been to subsidize what the developers needed to do in their own interest. (fn. 545) ) The work, within its reduced scope, at last went ahead—and in the end mostly on land acquired independently of any powers conferred by the two Acts of Parliament.

On the north side of Thackeray Street two blocks of flats over shops were built for Barker as owner in 1901–2. The eastern, at Nos. 2–14 (even, with a single-storey shop extension at No.16) is the back of Durward House, Kensington Court, built by Bywaters to designs by Durward Brown (see page 70), and the western, at Nos.18–28 (even) Thackeray Street and Nos. 8–10 (consec.) Kensington Square, is Abbotts Court, built by Martin, Wells and Company. (fn. 546) Whether Brown was also the architect of this better-organized-looking block is not known. From the beginning the shops were of a kind similar to the present.

On the south side Nos. 5, 7 and 9 Thackeray Street were built in 1904–6 by J. Easton of Barnsbury for A. B. Rumball, a civil engineer. (fn. 547)

Most of the ground on this side west of James Street had passed in 1895 to the important local building firm of Leslie and Company, who still owned it when they built Esmond Court here in 1931–2. The architects were Richardson and Gill, who designed plain brick exteriors with Georgian fenestration and a minimally neo-Classic entrance. Lock-up shops were incorporated in the streetfrontag (replaced by a shop and flat in 1969) and the basement and ground floor devoted mainly to garages for the occupants of the moderate-sized flats above. Basementdrainage, as at other sites nearby, was problem. (fn. 548)

James Street was never abolished and its old crooked line survives as Ansdell Street. In 1902 Barker and Bowerman, who had acquired the site via Simson and Mewburn. (fn. 549) had workshops built on the west side, designed in a very utilitarian manner by Durward Brown. (fn. 550) and on the east side Bowerman had a large garage, with a ‘machinery department’ and dressing-rooms, built in 1905 to designs by G.R. Crickmay. (fn. 551) (fn. n7)

Ansdell Street has lately been transformed, agreeably but in the widely divergent ways characteristic of recent years. On the east side at Nos. 7–17 (odd) a car-hire complex was recast in 1976 by the architects Riley and Glanfield in a cool, unitimidating modernish. (fn. 554) Southward Nos. 19, 21 and 23 were reconstruced for office use in 1980–1 by Alexander, Reece and Thomson, surveyors, with the fronts of Nos. 19 and 21 rebuilt on the existing pattern of early-nineteenth-century brick building. (fn. 555) A stone tablet on the north wall of No. 19 shows it had been built in 1824 for Thomas Chancellor, a jobmaster who owned the site as heir of Jonathan Hamston (see page 137). (fn. n8) Southward again, Nos 25 and 27 Ansdell Street, together with Nos. 19 and 20 St. Alban's Grove, were also built for Chancellor— here by John Saunders, a carpenter, between 1824 and 1829. This corner block (orignally of five houses and until recently accommodating small shops) presents more directly the old-fashioned manner of building that still prevailed in this backwater in the 1820s. The windows are flush-framed in segmentally headed openings (those at the southern end of No. 27 Ansdell Street being a recent and characteristically unobtrustive insertion) and the hipped roof is pantiled. On the west side of Ansdell Street most of Barker's and Bowerman's workshops were rebuilt in 1975–6 to designs by Daniel Watney Eiloart Inman and Nunn with a calm, strongly horizontal, brick front at Nos. 12 and 14. (fn. 556) In 1982–3 Blissett Macdonald Associates of Stoke Poges, architects, refronted the remainder at No.10, while retaining the old window-openings. They used cream-coloured rendering and tiles of greyish-blue with touches of red, in a style influenced by ‘Art Deco’ but light-hearted rather than aggressively facetious. (fn. 557)

The occupants of Ansdell Street in 1984 were also characteristic of their time, including recruitment consultants, building-refurbishment specialists, a publishing group, a vehicle-hire company (perhaps to be supplanted by the classes of an American college), agents for Italian printers and an association of bussiness and professional women. (fn. 93)

No. 21 St. Alban's Grove

This building was erected in 1894 to serve as a mission hall and school for the parish of St. Mary Abbots, to designs by the architect T. Phillips Figgis, (fn. 558) in a simplified version of the Flamboyant-cum-Arts-and-Crafts style of some expensive houses in Kensington Court. In 1985 it was reshaped, and the already-altered front further altered, to designs by APT Partnership, architects, for use as Leith's School of Food and Wine. (fn. 559)

South End

The cul-de-sac now named South End— a designation which proir to 1925 extended also to what are now Nos. 25 and 27 Ansdell Street and Nos. 19–22 St. Alban's Grove on the other side of the road-junction — consists on its north side of what were formerly the back premises of houses in Kensington Square now numbered 15–20 South End (Plate 23a, 23b). On its south side the eastern end, occupied early in this century by near-picturesque, semirustic coffee-rooms, and premises in the hands of a bottlemerchant, is now part of a yard and depot of the Property Services Agency, while the western end, like No.14 on the north side, is part of the property of the Convent of the Assumption.

The enhancement of the north-side buildings dates essentially from the early years of this century— the same period that saw a new sewer made (with its tall vent-pipe) in 1908 and the fanciful studios built at the corner of South End Row in 1911 (see page 148). No. 15 South End, previously the stabling of No. 19 Kensington Square, was rebuilt as a ‘ garage’ and two flats facing South End shortly before 1912. (fn. 560) The architect of this quite positively-designed building in a modified neo-Georgian style (spoilt by a new window in 1968) is not known. At No. 17 the stable block of 1881 at No. 17 Kensington Square (see page 23) can be seen behind the wall of a single-storey extension of 1908. (fn. 561) No. 18 is a reconstructed former stable behind No. 16 kensington Square built in 1875, which was in use by a ‘motor engineer’ in the 1920s, authorized for office use in 1958–61, and refronted about 1980 by Morrison, Rose and Partners, architects, of Cosham, Hampshire. (fn. 562) No. 19 used for storage or warehousing in the 1930s, was converted to office use in 1964 and refronted by Newman, Levinson and Partners, architects, in 1972. (fn. 563) No. 20 was built in 1909, on the site of three small cottages, by J. Marsland and Sons, builders, to a notably simple and unaffected design by E. W. Marshall, architect, who also designed Garden Lodge in Logan Place (see page 282). The semi-circular doorhood was added (and the estermost fenestration brought into conformity with the rest) in 1967 by the architects of Nos. 16 and 17 Ansdell Terrace adjacent. (fn. 564)

Ansdell Terrace

The cul-de-sac of Ansdell Terrace (formerly St. Alban's Road North) was laid out and ten houses on its east side, of which Nos. 18–20 and Nos. 24–27 survive, were erected in 1878 by the Kensington builder Thomas Hussey, (fn. 565) on the back garden of the house at No. 13 Kensington Square which he had just bought (see page 20). Four storeys high and staidly designed by their unknown architect in a style old-fashioned for its date—particulary so on the ground floor — these houses have the outward aspect of substantial single-family residences (Plate 23c). Three years after building, however, they are known to have been numerously inhabited by the working classes, each house accommodating, on average, twenty occupants divided between three or four artisan families. (fn. 566) In 1888 they were referred to as ‘industrial dwellings’ (fn. 567) A peculiarity of their internal arrangement is that the conventional plan of the ground floors, with three rooms and a water closet, was repeated on each of the floors above instead of being reduced and sub-divided on the upper floors for the bedrooms required by single-family occupation. (fn. 568) It would thus seem that Hussey intended them. like some of his other developments, for working-class use and furthermore deliberately planned them for multioccupation— but as single houses behing a ‘middle-class’ front and arranged on not ungenerous lines.

After war-damage Nos. 21, 22 and 23 were rebuilt with three storeys only to designs by the architect J.J. de Segrais made in 1953. (fn. 569)

The west side of Ansdell Terrace occupied (like No. 20 South End) part of the former garden of No. 14 Kensington Square. It is taken up by two low-built ‘cottages’, Nos 16 and 17, which were erected in 1967–8 to designs by Richardson and McLaughlan, architects, of Watford, for the owner-occupants of No. 14 Kensington Square, the National Union of Tailors and Garment Workers. (fn. 570) In 1972 No. 16 was occupied by the Union's General Secretary. (fn. 518)


  • n1. In the late seventeenth century the east side of the square was sometimes designated ‘Young Street’ thus in 1696 No. 5 Kensington Square was said to be in ‘Young Street, in Kensington, facing a Place or Square there called King's Square’.
  • n2. The ratebooks show him at No. 1760, but in the same year he is also described as ‘of Piccadilly’. He signed at least one piece of furniture ‘John Richards Kensington Square’ where he owned, but did not occupy, No. 40
  • n3. The surviving fragments have been removed into the keeping of the G.L.C. Historic Buildings Division.
  • n4. In 1878 the builder W.H. Lascelles exhibited drawings of a proposed studio for O'Neill designed by Norman Shaw with ‘concrete walls, roof, windows and floor’. Whether this was intended for Young Street or for O'Neill's house at Cranbrook is not known. It does not seem to have been built.
  • n5. Both Barker and Bowerman had suburban interests also. In 1881 Barker began a development of houses at Tulse Hill, and Bowerman embarked on developing Sunningfields Road and Sunny Gardens Road at Hendon in 1882.
  • n6. Barker's brother, E.H. Lingen Barker of London and Hereford, was and architect, but his name does not occur in connection with this area.
  • n7. About 1903 Barker moved to Bexhill, where he is said to have ‘engaged in the disposal of land’. By 1905 the architect Paul Hoffmann, who had designed St. Alban's Mansions and Roxburghe Mansions in the Thackeray Street neighbourhood for Barker, had designed a large block of flats at Bexhill.
  • n8. Another tablet on the end wall of the cul-de-sac in front of No. 23 is inseribed W.P. WF. Private. 1862.
  • 18. R. B.
  • 36. G.L.C., Historic Buildings Division, file 122, part I.
  • 84. R.B.: P.O.D.
  • 93. P.O.D.
  • 406. C.E.O. file 17201: B.R. 4726: information kindly supplied by Sir David Barran.
  • 465. Parish Registers of St. Mary Abbots, baptisms, 25 Feb. 1685/6; burials, 4 Sept. 1686.
  • 466. K.P.L., MS. 17; Extra-illustrated Faulkner, opp. p. 292, and p. 160 of new material.
  • 467. Parish Registers of St. Mary Abbots, baptisms, 25 Feb. 1685/6: R.B.
  • 468. M.D.R. 1713/5/38: R.B.
  • 469. Brasenose College, Oxford, Kensington Packet 605/2, title deeds of No. 5 Young Street: K.P.L., MSS. 939–40: M.D.R. 1728/6/98; 1735/5/590.
  • 470. K.P.L., MSS. 939, 1212: Guildhall Library, MS. 8674/2, p. 54 (2229): P.R.O., C5/324/83; C8/552/59; C54/4654.
  • 471. R.B.: Calendar of Treasury Books, vol. 13 (1697–8), 1933, pp. 388–9.
  • 472. Calendar of Treasury Books, vol. 10, part 1 (1693–4), 1935, pp. 41, 60: R.B.
  • 473. K.P.L., MS. 63/1379, p. 154.
  • 474. Parish Registers of St. Mary Abbots, burials, 14 Nov. 1693: R.B.
  • 475. R.B.: Guildhall Library, MSS. 8674/11, p. 579, (24841); 8674/56, p. 62 (65141): K.P.L., MS. 63/1379, p. 159: M.D.R. 1745/2/473; 1733/2/1.
  • 476. R.B.: M.D.R. 1735/5/590–1; 1744/2/96; 1764/2/110: Guildhall Library, MS. 8674/11, p. 579 (24840): G.L.R.O., MR/LV passim.
  • 477. G.L.R.O., MR/LV/6/14:R.B.
  • 478. P.R.O., C8/552/59: M.D.R. 1735/3/131: Hand-in-Hand Insurance Company, policy register 1, policy 1537 (in possession of the Commercial Union Assurance Company).
  • 479. P.R.O., C10/307/68.
  • 480. Brasenose College, Oxford, Kensington Packet 605/1 and 605/2 (deeds of No. 5 Young Street): R.B.: P.O.D.
  • 481. G.L.R.O., MR/FB/15: R.B.
  • 482. K.P.L., unidentified newspaper cutting dated 26 June 1794.
  • 483. M.D.R. 1806/1/528: R.B.
  • 484. D.S.R. 1885/53–62.
  • 485. P.O.D.: K.P.L., photo. K64/138.
  • 486. K.P.L., photo. K64/138: P.O.D.: R.B.
  • 487. B. 23 Jan. 1869, p. 75.
  • 488. D.S.R. 1889/164–5, 1890/190, 344–5.
  • 489. K.P.L., M.B.W./L.C.C. planning applications, no. 497.
  • 490. B.N. 17 Nov. 1905, p. 685: K.P.L., M.B.W./L.C.C. planning applications, no. 926: D.S.R. 1904/1844.
  • 491. Hand-in-Hand Insurance Company, policy register I, policy 1270 (in possession of the Commercial Union Assurance Company).
  • 492. Ibid., policies 1263–70: M.D.R. 1755/1/133–4.
  • 493. M.D.R. 1755/1/133–4: R.B.: Gentleman's Magazine, vol. XLIII, 1773, P. 303.
  • 494. R.B.: Guildhall Library, MS. 8674/94, p. 24 (5575): information kindly supplied by the Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Woodwork.
  • 495. P.R.O., PROB 11/989, ff. 263–4.
  • 496. Ibid., PROB 11/989, ff. 263–4: R.B.
  • 497. R.B.: M.D.R. 1789/2/175.
  • 498. M.D.R. 1804/6/160.
  • 499. Ibid., 1806/1/702.
  • 500. R.B.: P.R.O., PROB 11/1698, ff. 19–20.
  • 501. The Letters and Private Papers of William Makepeace Thackeray, ed. G.B. Ray, vol. 11, 1841–1851, 1945, p. 238.
  • 502. Eyre Crowe, Thackeray's Haunts and Homes, 1897, p. 49.
  • 503. Winifred Gérin, Anne Thackeray Ritchie,1981, p. 28.
  • 504. Gérin, op. cit.,pp. 79–80.
  • 505. P.O.D.: Derek Hudson, Norman O'Neill, 1945, pp. 13, 14.
  • 506. Derek Hudson, op. cit., p. 13: The Times, 30 Jan. 1948, p. 5 (letter from Frank O'Neill): William H. Rideing, Thackeray's London,1885, p.98: G.L.C., Historic Buildings Division, Blue Plaque file 263.
  • 507. B.N. 24 May 1878 (Lascelles's advertisement).
  • 508. University of Glasgow, House of Fraser Archives, HF8/1/9.
  • 509. G.L.C. Historic Buildings Division, file 2704.
  • 510. M.D.R. 1745/1/22: K.P.L., MS.1212.
  • 511. Parish Registers of St. Mary Abbots, baptisms 25 Feb. 1685/6.
  • 512. Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Prints and Drawings, E. 143–144–1916. A. 166.
  • 513. P.R.O., C5/324/83; C8/552/59.
  • 514. Survey of London, vol. XXXIII, 1966, p. 114n.
  • 515. Guildhall Library, MS. 8674/77, p. 32.
  • 516. K.P.L., M.B.W./L.C.C. planning applications, no. 766.
  • 517. The Evening News, 20 Feb. 1939.
  • 518. T.P. 8775.
  • 519. 59 and 60 Vic., c. clxxxi, local.
  • 520. K.P.L., Vestry Minutes, 16 Apr. 1896, pp. 8–12: P.O.D.
  • 521. M.B.W. Minutes, 4, 11 Feb., 25 Nov. 1881, pp. 218, 250, 752–3.
  • 522. M.D.R. index, sub Bowerman, R.J.(Hendon).
  • 523. M.D.R. 1882/33/270: D.S.R. 1883/29–34.
  • 524. P.O.D.: M.D.R. 1884/5/982.
  • 525. The British Architect,8 June 1883, p. 286.
  • 526. K.P.L., Surveyors' Report Books, vol. 9, p. 308, vol. 12, pp. 135–6, 157–8; Vestry Works Committee Minutes, 20 July, 3 Aug., 12 Oct., 9 Nov. 1886, pp. 99–100, 121, 176,208–9.
  • 527. M.D.R. 1889/5/785; 1889/10/827; 1889/32/214.
  • 528. Ibid., 1890/4/154.
  • 529. K.P.L., Vestry Works Committee Minutes, 13, 27 Jan. 1891, pp. 34, 64–5.
  • 530. Ibid., Surveyors' Report Books, vol. 18, pp. 466–75.
  • 531. P.R.O., RG11/22/149–50.
  • 532. Kensington News, 14 Jan. 1893: K.P.L., Surveyors' Report Books, vol. 20, pp. 16, 184; Vestry Works Committee Minutes, 6 Feb. 1894, pp. 386–7.
  • 533. G.L.R.O., L.C.C. Public Health and Housing Committee Papers, 1893–4, bundle B7.
  • 534. Ibid.: K.P.L., Vestry Minutes 1 Feb., 1 Mar. 1893, pp. 798–9, 803, 880.
  • 535. K.P.L., Vestry Works Committee Minutes, 10 July 1894, pp.245–7.
  • 536. Ibid., 8 Jan. 1895, p. 128; Vestry Minutes, 1 Feb. 1893, p. 802, 18 July 1894, pp. 346–7.
  • 537. L.C.C. Minutes, 27 Feb. 1894, p. 211.
  • 538. K.P.L., Vestry Works Committee Minutes, 22 Jan. 1895, p. 159; Surveyors' Report Books, vol. 21, pp. 351–3.
  • 539. Ibid., Vestry Minutes, 16 April 1896, pp. 8–12.
  • 540. G.L.R.O., LCC/CL/PARL/3/7.
  • 541. K.P.L., Vestry Minutes, 16 Dec. 1896, p. 654; Surveyors' Report Books, vol. 23, pp. 316–17.
  • 542. Ibid., Vestry Works Committee Minutes, 28 May 1895, p. 377: G.L.R.O., LCC/CL/PARL/4/22: M.R.D. 1896/11/690; 1896/16/346.
  • 543. K.P.L., Vestry Works Committee Minutes, 9, 23 Nov. 1897, pp. 231, 247–8, 27 Sep. 1898, pp. 312–314, Feb.1899, p. 193, 18 July 1899, p. 93; Vestry Minutes, 12 Jan., 9 Feb. 1898, pp. 660–1, 739.
  • 544. Ibid., Vestry Works Committee Minutes, 28 Feb., 14 Mar., 12 Dec. 1899, 9 Jan. 1900, pp. 226–7, 259–60, 315–17, 364–5; Surveyors' Report Books, vol. 26, pp. 125–7: G.L.R.O., L.C.C. Improvements Committee Papers, vol. 37, 24 Jan. 1900.
  • 545. L.C.C. Minutes, 10 Nov. 1903, p. 1769.
  • 546. D.S.R. 1901/120.
  • 547. Ibid., 1904/1640; 1905/823; 1906/536: M.D.R. 1904/17/618.
  • 548. B.R. 104192: B. 8 May 1931, p. 838, 13 Jan. 1933, pp. 71, 89,99.
  • 549. M.D.R. 1902/1/710.
  • 550. K.P.L., R.B.K. Works Committee Minutes, 24 Feb. 1902, pp. 163–4; Surveyors' Report Books, vol. 29, pp. 196, 297, 402; K68/70 (Letting Particulars, c. 1905): D.S.R. 1902/106.
  • 551. L.C.C. Minutes, 24 Jan. 1905, p. 133: B. 16 Nov. 1907, p. 532.
  • 552. C.B. Purdom, Harley Granville Barker, 1955, pp. 3–4.
  • 553. Sydney Perks, Residential Flats, 1905, figs. 137–8.
  • 554. B.R. 124047.
  • 555. Ibid., 124251: K.P.L., K4773B (Sale Particulars).
  • 556. B.R. 150720.
  • 557. T.P. 82/0552.
  • 558. K.P.L., M.B.W./L.C.C. planning applications, no. 629: T.P. 33441: foundation stone.
  • 559. B.R. 124251.
  • 560. O.S., 1913–14 ed.: directories: K.P.L., K66/663 (photo.c. 1908).
  • 561. B.A.31956.
  • 562. D.S.R. 1875/261: directories: B.R. 122045: T.P. 79053: G.L.C. photo. 80/15599.
  • 563. Directories: T.P. 8775, T.P. 103873.
  • 564. D.S.R. 1909/1201: T.P. 913.
  • 565. D.S.R. 1878/35–44.
  • 566. P.R.O., RG 22/123–27.
  • 567. 51 and 52 Vic., c. 148, private.
  • 568. B.R. 7509, 14999, 113776, 114128, 114533.
  • 569. Ibid., 7509.
  • 570. T.P. 14521: G.L.C., AR/BR/SN/6589.
  • c1. Virginia Crawford (the self-proclaimed mistress of Sir Charles Dilke) and her husband took No. 27 for the 1883 season.