Notting Hill: A place whose fortunes have come, gone and come again...
Arundel Gardens was built towards the end of the development of the Ladbroke Estate, in the early 1860s.
By the 1850s, the Ladbroke family was beginning to sell off freehold parcels of undeveloped land, one of which consisted of the land between the south side of Arundel Gardens and the north side of Ladbroke Gardens
This was acquired in 1852 by Richard Roy, a solicitor who had already been involved in building speculation in Cheltenham. He appears to have done nothing with the Arundel Gardens part of his land until 1862-3, when building leases were granted for the houses on the south side (numbers 1-47). Around the same time, leases were granted to three other builders to build houses on the north side (Edwin Ware for Nos. 2-14). The survey done by the Ordnance Survey in 1863 shows that the south side was complete by then, but only a few houses had been built on the north side, at the Kensington Park Road
end. Building clearly proceeded apace, however, as an 1865 plan, done when the street was given its current name and numbers (it was originally called Lansdowne Road
Terrace), shows that all the houses were complete by then. The building was not without accidents: a letter in the Times records that in 1865, when work was still being done on the interior of the houses at the Lansdowne Road
end, a young boy living at 97 Lansdowne Road
died when he fell into a temporary well built by the workmen under the pavement. There were also early problems with flooding. In 1888, a deputation from Arundel Gardens pressed the Metropolitan
Board of Works to enquire into the flooding of over-charged main sewers.
From the beginning, the houses came with access to the communal “pleasure gardens”. In 1862, according to a deed in the London Metropolitan
Archives, Richard Roy granted a 2,000 year lease of the land on the south side “to be used or enjoyed thenceforth during the said term as a pleasure garden in proper ornamental cultivation and condition for the exclusive use and benefit of the several freeholders and leaseholders and their several tenants and occupiers for the time being of the messsuages or tenements forming or being part of Ladbroke Gardens
and Lansdowne Road
Terrace and the respective families and servants of such owners and occupiers and their respective friends in their company”. The householders paid a guinea (£1.10) a year towards the cost of the garden.
The origin of the street name Arundel Gardens is not known. Arundel in Sussex is the seat of the Howard family, Dukes of Norfolk, and the name is common as a street name in areas that are or were owned by the Duke of Norfolk, but that is not the case here.
Notting Hill is a cosmopolitan district known as the location for the annual Notting Hill Carnival, and for being home to the Portobello Road
The word Notting
might originate from a Saxon called Cnotta
with the =ing
part indicating "the place inhibited by the people of" - i.e. where Cnotta’s tribe lived. There was a farm called variously "Knotting-Bernes,", "Knutting-Barnes" or "Nutting-barns" and this name was transferred to the hill above it.
The area remained rural until the westward expansion of London reached Bayswater in the early 19th century. The main landowner in Notting Hill was the Ladbroke family, and from the 1820s James Weller Ladbroke began to undertake the development of the Ladbroke Estate. Working with the architect and surveyor Thomas Allason, Ladbroke began to lay out streets and houses, with a view to turning the area into a fashionable suburb of the capital (although the development did not get seriously under way until the 1840s). Many of these streets bear the Ladbroke name, including Ladbroke Grove
, the main north-south axis of the area, and Ladbroke Square
, the largest private garden square in London.
The original idea was to call the district Kensington Park, and other roads (notably Kensington Park Road
and Kensington Park Gardens
) are reminders of this. The local telephone prefix 7727 (originally 727) is based on the old telephone exchange name of PARk.
The reputation of the district altered over the course of the 20th century. As middle class households ceased to employ servants, the large Notting Hill houses lost their market and were increasingly split into multiple occupation.
For much of the 20th century the large houses were subdivided into multi-occupancy rentals. Caribbean immigrants were drawn to the area in the 1950s, partly because of the cheap rents, but were exploited by slum landlords like Peter Rachman, and also became the target of white racist Teddy Boys in the 1958 Notting Hill race riots.
Notting Hill was slowly gentrified from the 1980s onwards now has a contemporary reputation as an affluent and fashionable area; known for attractive terraces of large Victorian townhouses, and high-end shopping and restaurants (particularly around Westbourne Grove
and Clarendon Cross
A Daily Telegraph article in 2004 used the phrase the ’Notting Hill Set’ to refer to a group of emerging Conservative politicians, such as David Cameron and George Osborne, who were once based in Notting Hill.
Since it was first developed in the 1830s, Notting Hill has had an association with artists and ’alternative’ culture.