Chepstow Villas, W11

Road in/near Notting Hill, existing between the 1850s and now

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Road · Notting Hill · W11 ·
JUNE
8
2015

Chepstow Villas is a road in W11 with a chequered history.


Chepstow Villas is a pleasant leafy street that runs between Pembridge Villas and Kensington Park Road. It is intersected by Ledbury Road/Chepstow Crescent; Denbury Road/Pembridge Crescent; and Portobello Road.

Until the 1840s, the whole area was agricultural land. But in around 1840 the demand for housing began to increase and the second great surge of housebuilding began on the Ladbroke estate. The Ladbroke family, the owners of the estate, had begun to sell off parcels of land to speculators. James Weller Ladbroke retained the eastern part of what is now Chepstow Villas (numbers 1-15 odds and 2-32 evens), but the central part, up as far as Portobello Road, passed into the ownership of Robert Hall of Old Bond Street. And after James Weller Ladbroke’s death in 1847, his heir Felix Ladbroke sold the western plot to a speculating parson from Bedfordshire, the Rev. Brooke Edward Bridges, and the latter then sold it on to another developer, Thomas Pocock. So there were a number of different landowners involved in the development of Chepstow Villas.

During the second half of the 1840s and the early 1850s, the street was laid out and development proceeded apace on all three parts of Chepstow Villas, as well as in neighbouring streets. The landowners signed agreements with a number of developers, who each undertook to build a certain number of houses. Many of the developers were professional builders, but there were also gentlemen and tradesmen interested in property speculation who then employed their own builders. Once the houses were built, the landowner would give 99-year leases of the houses to the developer in exchange for an annual ground rent. The developer would then sublet the individual houses in order to recover his investment. There are records of the dates on which the individual leases were granted, and from these one can work out when the houses were built. Although the landowners exercised some control over what houses were built, much was left to the individual developers, which explains the variety of styles to be found in the street.

One of the main developers, with whom both James Weller Ladbroke and Robert Hall signed agreements, was a civil engineer called William Henry Jenkins who hailed from Herefordshire on the Welsh borders. It was he who appears to decided the names for the new streets, choosing the names of places near his home – Chepstow, Denbigh, Ledbury and Pembridge.

The road started to decline around the turn of the twentieth century.

During the Blitz in the autumn of 1940, a number of bombs fell on Chepstow Villas, mostly causing only minor damage to roads and gardens. But an incendiary bomb on 15 October 1940 damaged the top floor of No. 46; and on 8 December 1940 Nos. 19 and 20 were damaged and two people had to be evacuated, according to air wardens’ reports.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Chepstow Villas began a steady ascent to renewed fashionability. An early sign came in the mid-1960s, when the Conservative MP Julian Critchley (1930-2000) moved into the detached villa at No. 50. He was shortly joined by his friend and fellow politician Michael Heseltine, who kept the house until the mid 1970s. By that time the street had become quite sought after, and Heseltine sold the house to a Saudi princess. She did not move in immediately, and the house (by then valued at some £200,000) became the subject of a famous squatting case. A group of squatters called “Mustard” or Multiracial union of Squatters to alleviate Racial Discrimination” moved into the house, announcing that they proposed to stay there until the owner was ready to move in. The Saudi princess finally obtained an eviction order in 1976.

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Notting Hill

Notting Hill: A place whose fortunes have come, gone and come again...

Notting Hill is a cosmopolitan district known as the location for the annual Notting Hill Carnival, and for being home to the Portobello Road Market.

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.
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