Notting Hill: A place whose fortunes have come, gone and come again...
St John’s Gardens runs around St John’s church.
The road that runs down to Clarendon Road
was originally known as St John’s Road, although by 1923 it had become St John’s Gardens. The road is bordered almost entirely by the railings of the neighbouring communal gardens or the sides of the back gardens in neighbouring streets. There are only two houses with an address in St John’s Gardens, both in the semi-circular section facing the back of the church.
Nos. 1 and 2 St John’s Gardens form part of a trio with No. 44 Lansdowne Crescent
. Indeed, until a renumbering in 1925, all three houses were considered to be in St John’s Gardens and No. 44 was known as No. 3 St John’s Gardens. All three were built by William Reynolds, a builder turned developer to whom James Weller Ladbroke (the freeholder) and Richard Roy (the developer) gave a lease in 1846 at a ground rent of £5 for each house. They are handsome half stucco houses, as well decorated on their rear elevations (also half stucco) as on the front. They are very similar to the houses built by Reynolds around the same time at 15-27 odds Lansdowne Road
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.