The Racks

The Racks was the land now bounded by Notting Hill Gate, Kensington Church Street, Campden Hill Road and Sheffield Terrace.

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Article · Kensington · W8 ·

The Racks was the land now bounded by Notting Hill Gate, Kensington Church Street, Campden Hill Road and Sheffield Terrace.

It was part of the lands of Campden House in the early 18th Century. It was then bought by the Phillimore family. In 1774 Robert Phillimore gave the property to his younger son, Joseph Phillimore, a vicar in Leicestershire. In 1808 Joseph sold the Racks by auction for £6,790.

Ten and a half acres were bought by John Jones of Harley Street. In 1810 John Jones sold his land to John Johnson, a builder from Westminster who used the land as a brick field to service developments in the surrounding area. In 1829 he transferred most of his land to his sons John Johnson and William Johnson, who carried on the family building business. In 1839 the Johnsons leased their brickfield to Benjamin and Joseph Clutterbuck, who were professional brickmakers.

John Johnson the younger died in 1848 and his estate was inherited by his brother William. He started selling off plots to repay debts. He also granted Joseph Clutterbuck, who had taken over the business on his own, building leases in part of the area. Clutterbuck, or builders appointed by him, were responsible for the construction of Farm Place (formerly Earnest Street), Callcott Street (formerly William Street), Hillgate Street (formerly Johnson Street), Farmer Street (formerly Farm Street), Jameson Street (formerly St James or James Street) and Hillgate Place (formerly Dartmoor Street).

Clutterbuck died in about 1851. Over 200 houses were built in the following decade, with a large number of individual builders constructing a few houses each. Most of the houses in this area were put in multiple occupation and it was really close to being a slum.

The other portion of the Racks sold by auction by Joseph Phillimore In 1808 – fourteen and a half acres – were bought by Alexander Ramsay Robinson, a local developer. He sold some off to the West Middlesex Waterworks Company where Edge Street was later built. in 1822 he sold the rest to Henry Chandless, a speculator.

Chandless sold half the land he had bought on to two Marylebone builders, John Punter and William Ward. (Chandless made a good profit. But it then turned out that he was under 21, so the buyers had to wait until he reached adulthood before he could sign the documents to give them ownership).

Punter and Ward ended up with the land on which they laid out Peel Street and Campden Street. Punter took Peel Street for development and Ward took Campden Street.

Chandless sold the remainder of the land he’d bought from Robinson to another Marylebone builder, William Hall, On the land he had bought, Hall constructed Bedford Garden (known as Bedford Place at the time). These had rather deeper plots than Punter and Wards’ houses in Peel Street and Campden Street, some of which are less than 50 feet in depth.

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Kensington is a district of West London, England within the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, located west of Charing Cross.

The focus of the area is Kensington High Street, a busy commercial centre with many shops, typically upmarket. The street was declared London's second best shopping street in February 2005 thanks to its range and number of shops.

The edges of Kensington are not well-defined; in particular, the southern part of Kensington blurs into Chelsea, which has a similar architectural style. To the west, a transition is made across the West London railway line and Earl's Court Road further south into other districts, whilst to the north, the only obvious dividing line is Holland Park Avenue, to the north of which is the similar district of Notting Hill.

Kensington is, in general, an extremely affluent area, a trait that it now shares with its neighbour to the south, Chelsea. The area has some of London's most expensive streets and garden squares.

Kensington is also very densely populated; it forms part of the most densely populated local government district (the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea) in the United Kingdom. This high density is not formed from high-rise buildings; instead, it has come about through the subdivision of large mid-rise Victorian and Georgian terraced houses (generally of some four to six floors) into flats.
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