A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 9, Hampstead, Paddington. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1989.
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Until the 19th century, the only building on the Hampstead portion of the Chalcots estate, apart from the two farmhouses in England's Lane, (fn. 1) was Steele's Cottage, where Sir Richard Steele the essayist stayed in 1712 to evade his creditors. The house, which stood on a mound on the west side of Haverstock Hill and was depicted, among others, by Constable, was also where Sir Charles Sedley, the poet and wit, had died in 1701. (fn. 2) As the White House, it gave its name to the surrounding field but by 1755 it was described as a cottage. (fn. 3) In 1811 there were only six houses on the whole estate. (fn. 4)
The first proposals to develop the estate (fn. 5) were made in the early 1820s, though not by Eton itself, (fn. 6) promoted by the building boom nearby, especially around Regent's Park to the south. On the advice of its London solicitor, the college appointed John Shaw, the developer of St. John's Wood, as surveyor and in 1826 obtained an Act to grant 99-year building leases. (fn. 7) Shaw refrained from drawing up a scheme for the whole estate not because planned development was no longer the fashion but because the market for such projects had collapsed. Instead in 1827 and 1829 he drew up schemes similar to that taking place on Bliss's estate to the north for the 15 a. fronting Haverstock Hill, involving half-acre plots for detached or semi-detached villas. In 1830 the college constructed some 100 yd. of a road, which it called Adelaide Road, presumably after the queen, but no speculator was attracted, partly because the market was temporarily saturated and partly because the London & Birmingham Railway, first projected in 1831 and opened in 1838, made the area less attractive. A small-scale builder, William Wynn, built houses fronting Haverstock Hill in 1830, a few others were erected by a Holborn plumber, and a cowkeeper replaced his cottage by a 'substantial lodge', but there were still no buildings beyond the Haverstock Hill frontage by 1840. Throughout the 1830s Eton considered ambitious plans for the southern part of the estate, at Primrose Hill, for a giant mausoleum, a cemetery full of classical buildings, and a botanical garden, which ended in 1842 in the acquisition of the hill for public recreation. (fn. 8)
John Shaw the younger (1803-70), who had succeeded his father as surveyor in 1832, favoured treatment of the entire estate, but the college rejected the last chance, offered in 1839 by William Kingdom, a builder also active in Paddington. (fn. 9) Later development was piecemeal, dependent upon small-scale opportunist schemes. Although Shaw drew up a general plan in 1840, the course of the streets was determined by the builders. It was Shaw who insisted on linking the Eton estate with St. John's Wood so that early building, once the Haverstock Hill frontage was completed, was concentrated on Adelaide Road, which was driven through to Avenue and Finchley roads by 1848. (fn. 10)
William Wynn had by 1842 built 41 houses fronting Haverstock Hill and in the eastern section of Adelaide Road. He put up only a few houses a year and subleased to other builders. One of them was Samuel Cuming, a Devonshire carpenter who evolved an integrated business, following the trend set on a much larger scale by Cubitt, employing some 80 men by 1851 and dying in 1870 a wealthy man. In 1843 he obtained his first building agreement from the college, for eight plots along Adelaide Road, followed later by four others. Cuming built 104 houses between 1845 and 1852, (fn. 11) mostly stuccoed pairs, three-storeyed above a basement, in a plain late Georgian style in Adelaide Road, but including a few Gothic specimens on the north side. In Provost Road and Eton Villas, he built gabled pairs of two storeys and attic above a basement, with Tuscan eaves to give the 'villa' effect.
In 1851 Cuming lived in one of his own houses in Bridge Road (later Bridge Approach), a short road south of Adelaide Road. Of the 117 householders living in his houses, 35 per cent were employed in manufacture and trade, 19 per cent were in the professions, 15 per cent were of independent means, 14 per cent were clerical workers, and another 14 per cent in artistic or literary occupations. The last included a portrait painter at no. 4 Provost Road and Alfred Clint (1807-83), marine painter, at no. 7. In Eton Villas, John Jackson (1819-77), the portrait engraver, was at no. 3 and Ewan Christian (1814-95), the architect, at no. 6. William Dobson (1817-98), the artist, and Samuel Birch (1813-85), the egyptologist, were in Chalcot Villas in Adelaide Road, at nos. 5 and 17 respectively. (fn. 12)
The houses in Adelaide Road, which were pushing westward from the junction with Church (later Eton) Road in 1848, (fn. 13) had reached the Eyre estate by 1853. After early plans for houses with mews remained unfulfilled, an omnibus service was opened in 1856 along the road, serving a neighbourhood without the extremes of wealth and poverty found in some other districts. In 1856 Cuming extended building at the western end of the estate, on King Henry's Road, which ran south of and parallel to Adelaide Road, on link roads between them, King's College Road and Merton Rise, and on Winchester and Harley roads, which formed the western front of the estate. Most houses were semi-detached Italianate villas but there were also a terrace of shops and a public house in King's College Road, built in 1858 by Robert Yeo, a builder on the Eyre estate, to whom Cuming subleased. By 1862 Adelaide Road formed a band of building through the centre of the estate with side roads and groups of houses at either end. It was more complete in the east, (fn. 14) where building included Eton Road with St. Saviour's church (1856) and Wellington House, designed by Alfred Stevens for his own occupation but incomplete at his death in 1875. He lived from 1865 next door at no. 9 Eton Villas, using the abandoned temporary church on the site as a studio; there he modelled the Wellington monument for St. Paul's cathedral. (fn. 15) Primrose Hill Road was planned by Cuming in 1858 as a link between England's Lane, the northern boundary of the estate, and Regent's Park Road to the south. During the 1860s building took place there as it did on all the existing roads and on Fellows Road, another eastwest road running north of Adelaide Road by 1864. (fn. 16)
The two men who most shaped the early development of Chalcots, John Shaw and Samuel Cuming, retired in the 1860s. On the direction of George Pownall, Shaw's successor, Steele's Cottage was demolished in 1867 and replaced by 1870 by a 'very respectable row of shops' (fn. 17) in Haverstock Hill and by the new Steele's Road, in which 22 houses, 9 studios, and 7 stables were built between 1871 and 1879. (fn. 18) At the east end were the mews and beyond them were ordinary stock-brick terraces. Among detached houses opposite them on the north side were five (nos. 35-9) built by Thomas Batterbury & W. F. Huxley for individual artists, including no. 37 for Frederick Barnard, a Punch illustrator, no. 38 for Edwin Hayes (1819-1904), the marine painter, in 1873, and no. 35 for J. D. (later Sir James) Linton, the landscape painter. Dating from between 1872 and 1875 and in styles proceeding from Gothic to 'Queen Anne', they illustrated a significant moment of change in English taste. To the east, the much altered nos. 31 and 32 were built by J. M. Brydon, who lived briefly at no. 31. (fn. 19)
In 1868 Pownall applied for several new roads. (fn. 20) In Albert Park, at the south-eastern end of the estate, 16 houses were built in Primrose Hill Road between 1871 and 1873 and two in 1879; 13 were built in Oppidans Road, constructed off it in 1868, between 1872 and 1874 and another 10 between 1878 and 1879. The last road in the area, Ainger Road, existed by 1869 and 38 houses, three stables, and a workshop were built there in 1878-9. Apart from Oppidans Mews, built in 1884, the estate, of grey-brick terraces, was complete by the end of the 1870s. (fn. 21) Most houses in King Henry's Road, semi-detached villas in stock brick with Corinthian porches, were of the 1860s (fn. 22) but 16 were built between 1871 and 1873. (fn. 23)
Some 40 grey-brick houses, with unusually high basements and in pairs but very close together, were built in Fellows Road by 1870, (fn. 24) starting from the eastern end. Between 1873 and 1878 another 45 were built there, and in 1879 Roberts Bros. applied to build 24 more. Almost half the road was completed by the end of the 1870s. (fn. 25) At the western end of the estate, called Eton Park, 9 houses were built in Winchester Road and 11 stables in Winchester Mews between 1871 and 1873, although most of the small houses there had been built in 1867. Mews were also built in 1871 at Eton Place off Adelaide Road. (fn. 26) Elsworthy Road, one of those listed by Pownall in 1868, was started from Primrose Hill Road at the southern edge of the estate, where St. Mary's church (1872) and 35 houses (1875-81) were built. (fn. 27)
Most of the roads applied for in 1868 were in the north part of the estate but by 1878 houses existed only in Adamson Road, at the western end; Bursars Road (later Eton Avenue), the largest, had not been completed. (fn. 28) In Crossfield Road, which adjoined Adamson Road to the east, 17 houses were built in 1880-1, and in Chalcot Gardens, off England's Lane, six in 'Queen Anne' style. (fn. 29) In 1881 William Willett the elder made a building agreement with Eton for the north-western 15 a. of the estate where he undertook to erect 200 houses by 1900, reduced in 1885 to 140 houses, shops, and stables. (fn. 30) Although he did not complete that number, he was responsible for 37 houses in Fellows Road in 1882-5, 20 in Adamson Road in 1882-4, 4 in Strathray Road in 1884, and 20 in Eton Avenue in 1886-93. (fn. 31) Willett's red-brick houses were popular at the time, (fn. 32) although later seen as 'airless excrescences'. (fn. 33) The earlier ones were designed by H. B. Measures and those after 1891 by A. F. Faulkner. (fn. 34) Among the few buildings not by Willett were the Hall school in Crossfield Road, designed by E. R. Robson, architect to the London school board, and no. 69 Eton Avenue, designed by Frederick Walker for John Collier (1850-1934), the painter, in Flemish Renaissance style, both built in 1890. (fn. 35) The Villa Henriette, no. 35 Eton Avenue, was built in 1895 in an elaborate style with stepped gables, turret chimney, dogs, and dragons. (fn. 36) The central portion of Eton Avenue was built between 1900 and 1910, nos. 10-14 in the style of Norman Shaw and nos. 28-32 on the north and nos. 11 and 27-39 on the south being by Faulkner. (fn. 37)
In 1883 Willett made a building agreement for the site of the Elms and West Croft, two large houses on the site of Upper Chalcots Farm at the west end of England's Lane. (fn. 38) Another eight houses were built nearby in 1882-3 in Chalcot Gardens, (fn. 39) where additions were later made to no. 16 by C. F. A. Voysey. (fn. 40) In 1890 Eton made an agreement with William Willett the younger for 11 a. in the southwestern corner of the estate, used as a cricket ground. The Willetts extended Elsworthy Road, forming a loop with the new Wadham Gardens, which they linked to Avenue Road on the west and the existing roads on the north. The site, bordering Primrose Hill but within easy reach of public transport, was highly sought after. By 1903, when the elder Willett retired, the firm had built more than 100 houses, designed by Faulkner, behind privet hedges rather than garden walls and forming a neglected precursor of Hampstead Garden Suburb. (fn. 41) By 1913 building was complete throughout the Chalcots estate. (fn. 42)
In spite of early efforts to exclude mews, there were several: Steele's, Oppidans, Winchester, and King's College mews and Eton Place. By the end of the 1880s they were classified as 'fairly comfortable' and housed, besides the coachmen, tradespeople serving a community which was classified as middleclass and even, in Eton Avenue and Strathray Gardens, upper middle-class and wealthy. (fn. 43) Besides the artists in Steele's Road, King Henry's Road had Arthur Boyd Houghton (1836-75) at no. 162 from 1866, (fn. 44) a succession of artists at no. 22 from 1873, and studios at no. 151A. (fn. 45) In Adelaide Road the ceramic artist William De Morgan (1839-1917) lived at no. 91 in 1855, the painter Frank Topham (d. 1924) was at no. 43 from 1862 to 1868, followed by his father Francis Topham (1808-77), the watercolourist, in 1870, and the engraver William Holl (1807-71) was at no. 174 in 1870-1 after being at no. 28 Studios, King Henry's Road, in 1869-70. Wychcombe studios, north of Steele's studios, housed Robert Macbeth at no. 2 from 1880 to 1884, Arthur Rackham at no. 6 in 1900, and Charles Orchardson at no. 3 in 1903-4. (fn. 46) The Winchester public house in Winchester Road was a meeting place of artists and writers from 1867, and in 1885 seven houses in Eton Road were occupied by artists. (fn. 47) Other artists included Robert Bevan (d. 1925) at no. 14 Adamson Road from 1901, Arthur Rackham at no. 16 Chalcot Gardens 1903-20, Duncan Grant at no. 143 Fellows Road c. 1910, and Stanley Spencer for a short time in Adelaide Road. (fn. 48) Among musicians were Cecil Sharp at no. 183 Adelaide Road 1905-11, the conductor Sir Henry Wood at no. 4 Elsworthy Road 1905-37, the singers Dame Clara Butt at Compton Lodge, no. 7 Harley Road, 1901-29, and Adelina Patti (d. 1919) at no. 8 Primrose Hill Road, and Frederick Delius at no. 4 Elsworthy Road at the end of the First World War. Marie Lloyd, the music-hall star, was at no. 98 King Henry's Road in 1906. (fn. 49) Frances Buss (d. 1894), the educationalist, lived at Myra Lodge at the corner of King Henry's Road and Primrose Hill Road from 1868 and Mary Webb (d. 1927), the writer, lived for a short while before 1923 in Adelaide Road. (fn. 50)
The social changes associated with the First World War reinforced a tendency to convert large houses to flats or for institutions. By 1905, for example, Adelaide Road housed the Huguenot Home for French Governesses (no. 96), the Adelaide Home for Charity Organization Society Pensioners (no. 165), the Christian Social Union (no. 102), and the Jewish Domestic Training Home (no. 113). (fn. 51) In 1918-19 Bedford College took over some houses in Adamson Road, which after 1925 formed a hall of residence called Bedford College House. (fn. 52) In 1927 Eton Avenue housed the London Academy of Music, Hampstead Ethical Institute, and the London Society for Teaching and Training the Blind. (fn. 53) In 1930 the whole area was still classified as middleclass and wealthy, except for patches in Bridge Road and King's College Road at either end of Adelaide Road where mews and small houses were occupied by 'unskilled labourers above the poverty line'. (fn. 54)
There was virtually no new building during the 1920s but large blocks of flats were erected during the 1930s, despite protests by Hampstead council and the Ratepayers' Association that there were already far too many flats in the borough. (fn. 55) Eton Court was built in Eton Avenue after 1926. (fn. 56) An application to build flats on the corner of Haverstock Hill and England's Lane was made in 1936, although apparently they were not built until 1947, (fn. 57) Elsworthy Court was built on the corner of Primrose Hill Road and Elsworthy Road in 1937, when major rebuilding began on the Haverstock Hill frontage. (fn. 58) John Shaw's first development had been on a very spacious site bounded by Haverstock Hill, Eton Road, (Eton) College Road, and Adelaide Road. When the leases began to fall in during the 1930s, villas in their long gardens were replaced by sixstoreyed, five-wing brick blocks in neo-Georgian style, designed by Toms & Partners and called Eton Place, Hall, and Rise respectively. (fn. 59)
One of the houses demolished in 1937 was no. 53 Haverstock Hill, where the artist Mark Gertler lived from 1933 to 1936. (fn. 60) Although Steele's and Wychcombe studios did not have the importance of the Mall studios in Belsize, Chalcots housed some of the people associated with the artistic flowering of the 1930s. C. R. W. Nevinson, the painter, was at no. 1 Steele's Studios in 1939 and among the refugees the painter Oscar Kokoschka was at no. 45A King Henry's Road from 1939 and the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and his daughter Anna made their first home in Britain at no. 39 Elsworthy Road in 1938. The writer Helen Waddell lived at no. 32 Primrose Hill Road, a 'large, damp house', from 1933 until 1965, the composer Sir Arnold Bax was at no. 155 Fellows Road from 1934 to 1939 and the actress Gladys Cooper was at no. 35 Elsworthy Road in 1939. During the 1960s Elizabeth Lutyens, the composer, and Ernest Read, the musicologist, lived at no. 13 and no. 151 King Henry's Road respectively. Sir John Summerson was at no. 1 Provost Road from 1938, before moving to a flat at Eton Rise and then to no. 1 Eton Villas. (fn. 61)
Chalcots was badly damaged during the Second World War (fn. 62) and as early as 1945 the borough council agreed to the compulsory purchase of a 2-a. bombed site between King Henry's and Oppidans roads where, in 1951, it opened Primrose Hill Court, 102 council flats in five- and seven-storeyed blocks designed by Douglas & Wood; (fn. 63) Constable House, a five-storeyed neo-Georgian block designed by Louis de Soissons, was built at the eastern end of Adelaide Road in 1953-4. (fn. 64) In 1954 the council began work on 80 flats, designed by D. H. McMorran, in the Fellows Road estate, a site at the east end of Fellows Road, bounded by Adelaide and Primrose Hill roads. Andrews and Higginson houses were opened there between 1960 and 1963, followed by Hutchison, Johnson, and Cleaver houses between 1965 and 1970 and Mary Wharrie between 1970 and 1976. On the north side of Fellows Road, Hancock Nunn House was opened between 1960 and 1963 and Godolphin House between 1963 and 1965. (fn. 65) Hill View flats were built in Primrose Hill Road 1960-3. (fn. 66) The nearby Clive hotel was also rebuilt (fn. 67) and Alfred Stevens's house in Eton Villas was replaced by flats in 1964. (fn. 68)
The largest post-war redevelopment scheme, called the Chalcots estate and published in 1964, was for 33 a. centred on Adelaide Road between Winchester Road on the west and Primrose Hill Road on the east. Eton made 5 a. in the north available to the council for terraces and tower blocks. Building started at the west end in 1965 on blocks of 23 storeys, designed by Dennis Lennon & Partners in consultation with S. A. G. Cook and called Dorney, Bray, Burnham, and Taplow after villages near Eton. One block, Blashford, was in the east. Most blocks were finished by 1970, the whole group forming a striking example of Le Corbusier's 'Plan Voisin'. Private developers built houses and low-rise flats, mostly in the 1970s, on the southern part of the estate, grouped around new roads and closes off King Henry's and Fellows roads. (fn. 69) At the western end Swiss Cottage Holiday Inn replaced no. 162 King Henry's Road (fn. 70) and at the eastern end Steele's Mews were redeveloped as groups of small houses around courtyards from 1969. (fn. 71) At the southern end the Whitton council estate was built in Oppidans Road by Thomas McInerney & Sons in 1970 and Meadowbank flats replaced Oppidans Mews c. 1971. (fn. 72) One of the most recent developments is Beaumont Walk, built c. 1978, a precinct of light-brown brick houses of unusual design, north of Adelaide Road, next to Constable House. (fn. 73)
In 1975 Eton Villas and Elsworthy Road were conservation areas, with a 'spacious suburban atmosphere'. (fn. 74) Almost the whole of Eton Villas and Provost Road consisted of listed buildings, pairs or groups of stucco villas approved by John Shaw in the 1840s. (fn. 75) Elsworthy Road, of a later period, was a bizarre mixture of Tudor England, Gothic France, and Moorish Spain. Rebuilding in Adelaide Road exhibited the 1960s' taste for high-rise concrete and glass rectangles and the equally uniform low-rise housing of the 1970s. Almost all other parts of Chalcots in 1986 were a mixture of 19th-century housing, much of it being repainted, and blocks of flats, dating from the 1930s or later, usually of a scale and materials to harmonize with the villas.