Paddington: Growth, settlement and building to c.1800

Pages 181-182

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 9, Hampstead, Paddington. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1989.

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GROWTH. Settlement And Building To c. 1800.

Although both Edgware and Bayswater roads were of Roman origin, the earliest evidence of settlement lies in the name Padintune, Padda's tun or farm, (fn. 1) in a charter of Westminster abbey ostensibly of 959 but compiled after the Conquest. (fn. 2) Not mentioned in Domesday Book, Paddington was an estate whose profits had been assigned to the abbey's almonry by the mid 12th century. (fn. 3) It formed a vill within St. Margaret's parish, as did Westbourne and Knightsbridge, in 1222, (fn. 4) when its chapel (fn. 5) presumably served only the eastern part of the later Paddington parish. Neither courts nor a manor house were recorded during the Middle Ages. Paddington's tenants were still listed with those of Knightsbridge c. 1225, (fn. 6) and Westbourne tenants from the 14th century or earlier were subject to courts which normally met at Knightsbridge. (fn. 7) Paddington's church or chapel, close to the highway about half way along the parish's north-eastern boundary, probably came to attract worshippers from the Westbourne part of Knightsbridge manor, who otherwise had to travel to St. Mary Abbot's, Kensington.

The medieval settlements, at Paddington green, Westbourne green, and along the Uxbridge road, were small. Twenty people were assessed for subsidy in 1524 (fn. 8) and there were 74 communicants in 1548. (fn. 9) Paddington, like Marylebone, contributed comparatively little towards county assessments in 1608 and 1636. (fn. 10) Seventy people were assessed for hearth tax in 1664, 52 being listed as in Paddington and the rest in Westbourne green, (fn. 11) and in the early 18th century the parish was described as very small. (fn. 12) In the 1740s the chief settlement was around Paddington green and along the nearby stretch of Edgware Road, opposite Lisson green in Marylebone, with smaller groups of houses to the west around Westbourne green and at Bayswatering, where the Westbourne was crossed by the Uxbridge road. A pest house stood in the fields later covered by Craven Hill, and there were isolated buildings at the Tyburn and Kilburn ends of Edgwater Road and at the western end of the Uxbridge road. (fn. 13)

Apart from building next to St. George's burial ground, (fn. 14) little further change took place until the 1790s. (fn. 15) Painters appreciated the rural scenery in the 1780s (fn. 16) and there were estimated to be only 340 houses in 1795. (fn. 17) Most of the parish was grassland, providing hay for the cowkeepers who supplied London with milk. (fn. 18) Rural charms were enhanced by their contrast with the threatening spread of housing north-westward from London. An Act of 1763 applied new building regulations to Paddington, along with Marylebone, St. Pancras, Chelsea, and the city of Westminster, (fn. 19) and by 1792 Paddington was considered as united to the metropolis. (fn. 20) In 1795 it was hard to believe that the parish adjoined that of St. George, Hanover Square, Paddington's emptiness being ascribed to the fact that much of the land was in ecclesiastical hands. Already, however, activity in neighbouring parishes was making itself felt: nearly 100 wooden 'cottages', presumably not included in the total number of houses, had sprung up within the last four years along Edgware Road, for artificers working in London. (fn. 21)


  • 1. P.N. Mdx. (E.P.N.S.), 132.
  • 2. Cart. Sax. ed. Birch, iii, p. 265; F. E. Harmer, A.-S. Writs (1951), 338.
  • 3. Below, manors.
  • 4. Harvey, Westm. Abbey, 45; text in H.F. Westlake, St. Marg. Westm. (1914), 231.
  • 5. Below, churches.
  • 6. Harvey, Westm. Abbey, 105.
  • 7. Below, local govt.
  • 8. Robins, Paddington, 180.
  • 9. Lond. and Mdx. Chantry Certificates, 1548, 73.
  • 10. Mdx. County Rec. ii. 103; iii. 63.
  • 11. G.L.R.O., MR/TH/2, mm. 30d.-31r.
  • 12. Newcourt, Rep. i. 703; Magna Brit. (1724), iii. 50.
  • 13. Ch. Com., 'Map of 1742'; Rocque, Map of Lond. (1741-5), sheet 11.
  • 14. Below, Tyburnia.
  • 15. Ch. Com., 'Plan of 1790'.
  • 16. Reminiscences of Hen. Angelo, i (1828), 230-1.
  • 17. Middleton, View, 329; below, econ.
  • 18. Lysons, Environs, iii. 336.
  • 19. 4 Geo. III, c. 14.
  • 20. Ambulator (1792).
  • 21. Lysons, Environs, iii. 330, 336-7.