Lansdowne CrescentNotting Hill: A place whose fortunes have come, gone and come again...
has some of the most interesting and varied houses on the Ladbroke estate, as architects and builders experimented with different styles.
When James Weller Ladbroke decided in the early 1820s to develop for housing the 170-acres of mostly farmland that he had developed from his uncle, he commissioned the architect/surveyor Thomas Allason (1790-1852) to draw up a plan in which a circular road, more than 500 metres in diameter, was intersected by an axial road on the alignment of the future Ladbroke Grove
. In 1825 a short-lived building boom began along Holland Park
Avenue. But this quickly collapsed, and the area of the circular road was from 1837 to 1841 occupied by the Hippodrome race- and steeplechase course. That also lost money, and after it closed there began a series of longer-lived building developments, a key part of which was an evolving layout of terraces, crescents and the large Ladbroke Square
, each built with a paddock or communal garden. The new layout departed considerably from Allason’s original layout, but it did retain at least some of the crescent forms (including Lansdowne Crescent
) near to St John’s church.
The financial and legal arrangements for the development of Lansdowne Crescent
were complicated, but in general terms followed the practice elsewhere on the estate, with the landowner (mainly Ladbroke or the solicitor and developer Richard Roy to whom Ladbroke had sold some of the land) releasing plots of land to developers on condition that they constructed houses on them meeting certain specifications, following which the landowner granted the developers/builders or their nominees 99-year leases of the newly constructed houses for a small ground rent. The builders then sublet the houses to recover the costs of the construction.
The street is a near perfect hemicircle beginning and ending in Ladbroke Grove
. It is numbered consecutively, with Nos. 2-18 from south to north along the inner side; and numbers 19-43 from north to south along the outer side. The numbering on the outer side was rationalised in 1867. Before, the present numbers 19-38 were numbered 21-40; the present numbers 39 and 40 were unnumbered villas called Wycombe House; and Canonteign House; at what subsequently became No. 41 there was a big villa called Shelburne Lodge or Shelburne House; and the present Nos. 42 and 43 were Nos. 19 and 20.
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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.