Notting Hill: A place whose fortunes have come, gone and come again...
All Saints church was designed by the Victorian Gothic revival pioneer William White, who was also a mountaineer, Swedish gymnastics enthusiast and anti-shaving campaigner.
In 1852 the Reverend Walker bought 51 acres of Portobello farmland from Mary Anne and Georgina Charlotte Talbot. This covered the whole strip of North Kensington lying east of Portobello Lane, from Portobello farmhouse on the north to Lonsdale Road
and Western Terrace on the south. On this land which joined the ‘Ladbrooke estate’, Walker commenced to build ‘a new town’ and erect an elaborate church to the memory of his parents.
The road on which the church was built was called St Columb’s Road, and the church was dedicated to St Ann, but the name of ‘All Saints’ was soon substituted.‘This ‘very stately and abnormal stone church, built after the model of that at St Columb’s Major in Cornwall was structurally completed in 1855, but owing to pecuniary difficulties was left without glass or furniture till 1861.’ Meanwhile it stood boarded up and weed-grown near a pond, the open ground behind being sometimes occupied by gypsies. A footpath which started beside the church, for some years after this date, led over fields all the way to Kensal Green. In 1861 Walker finished the church in a less costly manner… But already it was known as Walker’s Folly, and was sometimes irreverently called ‘All Sinners in the Mud’.’ Florence Gladstone, ‘Notting Hill in Bygone Days
During the Blitz, on the night of September 26 1940, bombs fell on All Saints church, All Saints Road
and Powis Square
The church, parish hall and vicarage were also badly damaged. The vicarage was burnt out in March and the hall suffered the same fate in July 44. The church was restored after the war, along with the church hall and vicarage, and reopened in 1951. The area behind the church became a bombsite adventure playground.
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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
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.