Lansdowne Crescent, W11


Lansdowne Crescent 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 1851 census records, quoted in the Survey of London, show that in that year twenty houses were occupied by 133 residents, of whom 53 were servants. The average number of residents in each house was thus 66, of whom 26 were servants. The householders included three fundholders (all women), three lawyers (one a magistrate), two army officers, two civil servants, and one clergyman, chemist, dealer in stocks and shares, parliamentary agent, wholesale bookseller, warehouseman, varnish maker and merchant.

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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