Stanley Gardens, W11

Road in/near Notting Hill, existing between 1855 and now

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Road · Notting Hill · W11 ·
November
21
2015

Stanley Gardens was built in the 1850s.

Stanley Gardens looking towards St Peter’s church.
Stanley Gardens was probably named after the noted politician Edward Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby, who became Prime Minister in 1852. There used also to be a Stanley Gardens Mews, which ran down the north side of St Peter’s church.

Stanley Gardens is perhaps the prime example of the Ladbroke Estate planners’ love affair with vistas. This short street looks west towards the two magnificent central houses in Stanley Crescent and to the east there is an equally magnificent view of St Peter’s church. As so often on the Ladbroke estate, the end-of-terrace houses on both sides are round the corner in Stanley Crescent and Kensington Park Road.

The original design for the Ladbroke estate, based on concentric circles, was made in the 1820s by Thomas Allason, the architect-surveyor employed by James Weller Ladbroke when he inherited the estate and decided to develop it. Allason’s design did not survive in its original form, but the layout of Stanley Gardens, Stanley Crescent and the three communal gardens behind them represents an adaptation of part of it by Thomas Allom, a landscape artist turn architect who came on the scene in the 1840s, when he was employed by James Weller Ladbroke to make designs for the continued development of the estate. He was responsible not only for the layout of this part of the Ladbroke estate, but also for the design of all the houses in Stanley Gardens and the best of those in Stanley Crescent.

The development of Stanley Gardens and Stanley Crescent was not without its difficulties. The land on which they now stand was considered prime development territory, being high up and above the smogs of London. James Weller Ladbroke first signed a contract with the developer Jacob Connop in 1840 to build a specified number of houses. But Connop went bankrupt shortly afterwards. Ladbroke then let nine acres of the best land to William Sloane (a gentleman who had made a fortune as an indigo planter in Bengal) at £30 an acre, again with an agreement on what houses should be built. But Sloane failed to fulfil the terms of the agreement; and then he died. In 1847, James Weller Ladbroke also died and the estate was inherited by a cousin, Felix Ladbroke, who took back the land on which Stanley Gardens and Crescent now lie. A new developer had by this time arrived on the scene in the person of the merchant-turned-speculator, Charles Blake, and Felix Ladbroke sold the freehold of the land to him. The Survey of London comments that, at £450 an acre, the price paid by Blake was low, perhaps because Ladbroke wished to ensure the development of this site was in accordance with the plans prepared by Allom.

Blake contracted with a builder, David Allan Ramsay, in 1853 to build 40 houses (1-29 Stanley Gardens and 1-13 Stanley Crescent) for a total of £68,000. Thomas Allom produced “surveys, valuations, plans, elevations, sections, specifications” for the houses. Ramsay quickly began running into financial difficulties, however, and left the houses unfinsished. After putting out the work to tender, Blake employed Mssrs. Locke and Nesham to complete Nos. 1-11 Stanley Gardens (the north side) and employed his own Clerk of Works, Philip Rainey, to complete those on the other side. Work was finally finished in 1858, at a cost £11,000 higher than that originally agreed with Ramsay.

Along with the houses in Kensington Park Gardens that Allom also designed, Stanley Gardens and Stanley Crescent represent his masterwork, in terms both of layout (with their cleverly designed communal gardens) and of architecture. Gone completely is the simplicity of the Georgian era still visible in earler houses on the estate. They represent the full-on confident splendour of the Victorian age, or as the Survey of London puts it, “grand display in the latest taste”. The Survey of London comments that “His skill was to make use of the terrace ends, the junctions and the curves in the streets, to introduce special emphasis with great bowed projections, turrets, columnar screens and houses of curious plan forms” – the latter very obvious in the end of terrace houses in Stanley Gardens.

The houses in Stanley Gardens are much higher than earlier houses on the estate (basement, four main floors and a dormer floor added later on the north side); full stucco with lavish external decoration, including balconies, string courses and ironwork; and often equally lavish interior decoration, with stone used in halls and stairways and intricate plasterwork in the rooms. Their rear elevations are also full stucco and equally well-decorated – indeed, in the case of those on the southern side the backs are if anything more ornate than the fronts.

The 1861 census shows the early occupants to have been the usual mix of professionals (several solicitors); merchants or traders; and widows living on their own means. But Nos. 9-10 were occupied by a school for young ladies, as were Nos. 16 and 27; and the street continued to be popular for schools throughout the 19th century. So it seems that it was always easy to find families to take on these very large houses, even in those times of big Victorian families.


Main source: Ladbroke Association
Further citations and sources


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Stanley Gardens looking towards St Peter’s church.
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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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