Madame Bach Gladstone: water colours of a neighbourhood

Local Studies collections quite often contain water colour paintings by local residents. We’re all familiar with that trope of historical fiction and TV drama, the accomplished young lady who paints pictures of her neighbourhood. Mrs Elizabeth Bach Gladstone is one of those. Now we’ve seen quite a few amateur water colorists on the blog: Marianne (or Mary Ann) Rush, Louisa Goldsmid, the un-named artist of the Red Portfolio,  and a few professionals: E. Hosmer Shepherd, William Cowen, Yoshio Markino. Some of them are talented, some of them are competent, some of them are a bit weird.

Elizabeth Bach Gladstone was born in 1858 and spent her young life in Kensington before her marriage to Henri Bach in 1896 and subsequently moving to France. She was the daughter of Professor John Hall Gladstone and the younger sister of Florence Gladstone, the author of Notting Hill in Bygone Times, the first history of the Notting Hill area. Her other sister was Margaret Gladstone the wife of the Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald. Margaret also did water colours but our collection has 67 paintings donated to the Library in 1933 by Madame Bach Gladstone (as it says on the card I’m just looking at).

I was probably always going to feature some of these works here at some stage but I was reminded of Elizabeth by this picture, which connects with the recent posts about Slaters and the Royal Palace Hotel.

 

 

This is a view looking south at Kensington High Street from Palace Green Avenue. On the right is Palace Avenue Lodge, and visible through the gateway, number 1 Kensington High Street (about which I’ve written already).

This area, taking in the vicinity on both sides of Kensington Church Street, was Elizabeth’s patch, and she painted this picturein 1893 when the Royal Place Hotel was newly built.

The picture below looks down Kensington Church Street.

 

 

 

The writing on the back of the mount (probably not Elizabeth’s) identifies the George Inn and the roof of the Carmelite Monastery but doesn’t say anything about the spire on the left. You’d assume it was St Mary Abbots Church.

Here is a better view from 1888.

 

 

The pleasure of these sparsely populated water colours is their tranquillity. The busy life of urban Kensington becomes peaceful so  this dusty street becomes as quiet as a cathedral precinct.

The garden below could be in a small town.

 

 

 

The spire in the picture though is not Kensington’s best known church, and the house is not its vicarage.

They both belong to this church, a favourite of Elizabeth’s.

 

 

St Paul’s, Vicarage Gate, briefly seen in a photograph in this post. (St Paul’s was damaged during WW2 and subsequently demolished.)

Elizabeth looks inside.

 

 

 

Another feature of amateur water colour painters is the figures. Not quite right in this one but passable.

Below, another garden corner.

 

 

The parish room of St Paul’s, also 1888.

And here, a view nearby, of Little Campden House.

 

 

 

This view says “down Hornton Place” (Hornton Place runs west off Hornton Street)

 

 

I’m not sure if the church tower would look quite so imposing in real life. (Although the modern surrounding buildings may be bigger now, and they didn’t have Google Street View in the 1880s.)

[Update a couple of weeks later: I went and stood at the end of Hornton Place, and the church tower does do some serious looming from thtt angle, so apologies to Elizabeth]

This picture, looking down Gordon Place (off Holland Street) is immediately recognizeable, even if the background has changed a little.

 

 

 

A small carriage trundles down another quiet road, Sheffield Terrace in this picture.

 

 

Once again, Elizabeth shows us solitary dwellings set amongst big trees, sitting behind low walls with a street so quiet a couple of birds can stand around in the middle once the carriage has passed by.

Now we actually move south of Kensington High Street,

 

 

Kensington Square, 1894 featuring another convent and a grammar school.

Below, the stables at Kensington Palace, a suitable spot for a painter to set up.

 

 

The lady in blue is competently done.

Unfortunately, the figure in the picture below (which I like, don’t get me wrong) in Dukes Lane walking opposite the walls of the Carmelite Monastery, really gets away from the artist.

 

 

Something wrong with the scale? (And the face?). Well, sorry Elizabeth, you can’t nail them all.

Postscript

Thanks to everyone who left a comment last week, especially those who corrected the identification of the streets. Unlike the Photo Survey pictures by John Rogers (who never made any errors in place names) those pictures may have been captioned (and dated) quite a while after the pictures wete taken. And the pictures didn’t originate with Local Studies. I was glad to have them uncovered after years of being lost. Actual lost pictures are actually quite rare – sometimes I come across images I’ve never seen before but it’s rare to find pictures that not even my predessessors knew about.

 

Advertisements

Health and welfare: streets in North Kensington 1966

I’m grateful this week to one of our volunteers, who found these pictures together in an envelope among a collection of pictures given to us by the Planning department .They originate in another Council department, the Health and Welfare department, which was once located in Kensington Square.

 

 

It says on the back of this picture” Appleford Road”, which means the road you see at the top of the picture could be Adair Road. Nothing in the picture remains today after redevelopment in the early 1970s.

The picture could have been taken from a new housing block. It is dated, as many of today’s pictures are, 12th September 1966. The Health and Welfare department would have been interested mainly in the condition of the housing in North Kensington which had been causing concern for some years.

Below, a view of the narrow spaces between the terraces of houses. You can see how cramped they were.

 

 

This is the space between Bramley Road and Testerton Street. I’ve looked at some of these streets before in this post for example. Those pictures were taken by our photographer, John Rogers who wanted to chronicle some of the streets that were about to be demolished.

Blechynden Street, below, was one of those. It only exists today as a stub, facing towards the Lancaster West Estate. Here it is still a place where life was going on.

 

 

Some demolition had already occurred.

 

 

That fence in Barandon Street, behind which rubbish was accumulating, is supposed to be 14 feet high according to the caption. Note the graffitti which has been concealed. The swastikas do not show some right wing message: the words read “Nazi-occupied Britain” which puts a slightly different slant on the sign. The message “Down with Taggart’s” must be personal in some way. Too early to show an antipathy towards the Scottish crime drama.

The picture below shows more rubbish building up in a back yard. But the neighbours have hung their washing up undeterred by the mess behind the wall.

 

 

The yards were between Lancaster Road and Testerton Street.

 

 

This is a cul-de-sac where Testerton Street was bisected by Barandon Street. Although the houses look rough, they’re still being lived in. I should know the distinctive rear of that car on the right. Anyone?

Cars and other vehicles were still a focus of life and work in this area.

 

 

 

This scrap yard was in Bramley Mews which ran between Bramley Road and Silchester Terrace. The Silchester name only survives on the eponymous estate.

This was Bramley Road. The houses were already vacant at this point.

 

 

I think that’s the rear of a Jaguar on the left. You often find these relativity upmarket cars in less than affluent neighbourhoods. As I’ve said before, there was a Jaguar collector in Dalgarno Gardens in these days.

This picture is the rear of Golborne Gardens , a now demolished street near Appleford Road.

 

 

 

See the two women looking out at the photographer from the top floor. The one of the left is definitely smiling.

The front of these house looked like this.

 

Those two women were photographed nearly ten years earlier in 1957. Was one of them the same person?

Below, a street under demolition which has not even left its name behind.

 

 

Lockton Street ran between Bramley Road and Mersey Street (another name which was not used again). One end of it was underneath the railway close to Latimer Road station.

The picture below is not dated like the others although Hazelwood Tower could have been the vantage point for a couple of the pictures.

 

 

It would have been almost new at this time. You can see that it looks as if it had just materialised, plonked down in the midst of the terraced streets

We’ve jumped back to Blechynden Mews in this picture. Another instance of these mews streets being devoted to m otor vehicles.

 

 

Finally, a quick look back to Hurtsway Street, which we know quite well. I won’t go on about the cars (although I could)

 

 

Instead, take a look at the woman looking at the photographer from a first floor window on the right. If you follow that line of windows you’ll just about see another woman looking towards the camera. The men in the street are paying no attention, but take note of the pile of tires in the distance. There were a lot of them in this area when these pictures were taken.

I can’t say exactly how these pictures were passed on between Council departments before arriving here in Local Studies. But this is where they will stay as a witness to some forgotten street scenes. (More on Lancaster Road here.)

Postscript

It seems appropriate this week that the death I noticed most was that of John Haynes, the creator of the Haynes workshop manuals. At one time this library had dozens of his books, a couple of bays of them down in the sub-basement to which library staff, myself among them, regularly went to pick out the relevant volume from the 600s.

The Haynes company was clever enough to produce some less serious works in more recent years, including such items a as workshop manual for the Starship Enterprise which we bought for my son on year. I also own, somewhere, a key ring with a cutaway drawing of a Ford Capri.

 


The high life – at the Royal Palace Hotel

We caught a glimpse of the Royal Palace Hotel last week but it looked pretty dull and gloomy in that rather faded photograph, even though it was probably only a few years old. To capture the aspirational feel of a new hotel you really need promotional material and especially artwork. So, for the most part, we’ll give the photographs a week off. Here is a view from an architectural publication showing the grand design.

The hotel, built in 1892-93 was built on the site of the King’s Arms Hotel (basically a large tavern) but was a far more ambitious building, towering over the surrounding houses and shops and looking down on Kensington Gardens.

 

 

It was intended to serve the growing number of visitors to London, and entice them in with many modern features, such as the grand entrance.

 

 

 

This week’s pictures are all illustrations from a contemporary periodical The style reminds me at least of William Luker. In the 1890s it was still somewhat easier for magazines to use artists to portray scenes like the exciting interior life of a brand new hotel.

 

 

An elegant woman glides through the entrance hall on her way out for a promenade through fashionable Kensington. A gentleman reads a newspaper in the hall. Not an aspidistra perhaps, but some kind of giant fern.

Below another view of the entrance hall, looking down from the gallery. Guest linger in the sumptuous public areas of the hotel.

 

 

 

Inevitably, the interior design of some of the public rooms is influenced by the exotic cultures of the near and far east such as this one, the “Eastern Lounge”

 

 

 

Or this one, an “eastern room” another young woman chats with a gentleman in formal dress, under a kind of canopy, surrounded by more of those giant ferns.

 

 

Guests could dine in a variety of dining rooms, some of them small and intimate.

 

 

Other larger, and more grand.

 

 

 

There were also the usual convenience of London life, such as a billiard room.

 

 

One of the features the hotel was most proud of were the extensive suites where residents could effectively have their own apartments, with private sitting rooms.

 

 

 

The husband sits around with a newspaper, while his wife concentrates on looking good. Below, a family group are actually making themselves comfortable and settling in in front of a warm fire.

 

 

In a private drawing room, a mother and daughter spend some quality time together.

 

 

I’m not quite sure what they’re doing. Perhaps the girl is insisting she should be wearing something more fashionable now she’s quite old enough to wear adult clothes. Maybe her mother (or is it an older sister?) is quietly asserting that she’ll just have to wait.

There’s a nice view out of the window of course, and they can go walking in the Gardens as often as they like. I could refer them to Mr Luker’s pictures of Kensington life, or some postcards of the Gardens.

 

v

 

After an outing, it’s only a short walk back to the wondrous hotel.

 

 

It’s conceivable that the young lady might live to see this view in her old age.

 

 

1958. The Royal Palace Hotel looks intact, and still looks tall and elegant through the trees. But, if not actually empty at this moment, it didn’t have long before the end. It was demolished, and a larger hotel built on the site with a new name. We have a few pictures of that process but I’ll save those for another time. Today, let’s remember the hotel in its glory days as that young woman might have done.

 

Postscript

You might have expected me to mark the sad death of Mark Hollis, leader of the now reasonably obscure band Talk Talk with a few words. Talk Talk went from sounding like successors to Duran Duran to making avant garde, almost jazz-like music.  I actually own four of their albums (bought during the era when Fopp Records sold back catalogue CDs at pretty reasonable prices), so this morning I put on Spirit of Eden, thought to be one of their best.

Actually, I never really got it, despite many attempts. I was much more of a fan of David Sylvian, who trod a similar path from pop to avant garde, much more successfully to my mind. I hope he’s okay. I wonder what the residents of the Palace Hotel circa 1894 would have made of either of them being played in the public rooms?

I’m posting this quite late in the day at nearly 6pm. One of my regular readers (M) will soon let me know if there are any typos.


Slaters

Sometimes a post arises out of  nothing but curiosity. I started with a few pictures of a shop called Slaters.

 

 

Alfred Slater began as a butcher but by 1909, the date of this picture, he was a butcher and provision dealer. The building caught my interest because of its elaborate frontage, not unlike some of the nearby buildings we’ve seen in other posts. The other pictures of the shop show the interior.

 

 

A fine marble slab featuring a selection of dead animals including a set with lolling necks. The interior is as well decorated as the front.

Below, a selection of cured meats, with many cheeses and other products.

 

 

Some chairs for the customers to sit in while giving and waiting for their orders . It seems like a high class establishment to me. No sawdust on the floor here.

But although there is plenty to think about in these three pictures, I wondered if that was all I was going to see of Slaters. The three pictures might make a good short post for Christmas.

After all, 18-20 Kensington High Street is no longer with us. Since 1909 a whole stretch of the north side of the street has been redeveloped.

I was still curious to find out more, so I went to look at more photographs, and street directories.

This part of the High Street was much photographed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Look at this post. (And its companions) But there are  more images in which to look for Slaters.

It’s actually in this picture, in the distance.  The railings are by the entrance to Kensington Gardens. The gateway has a heraldic lion holding a coat of arms. (Which survives to this day, like one other feature in the picture. Can you see it)

Behind that, The King’s Arms public house. This picture is probably from 1887. the year of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. The public house would soon be demolished.

 

 

I used this picture in that previous post, but I enlarged a different section. The close up below shows Slaters, especially decorated as many shops were that year.

 

 

 

And a nice further detail of two young women hurrying across the street, rushing to get between the carriages. You can actually see that the one bringing up the rear has her right foot off the ground.

In this picture the street is plainer, but you can see just by the lamp of the Cumberland Arms the sign above the alley on the right of Slaters which says Hodgson.

 

 

 

We know from Kelly’s Street Directory of 1889 that this alley was called Cumberland Yard, and in it were the businesses of G T Patterson, Veterinary Surgeon and William Hodgson, coach builder. This picture might show Cumberland Yard.

 

 

 

(Look closely and find two men on the roofs of two of the buildings crammed together behind shops and inns.)

On the other side of Slaters, heading west was a wine merchants..

 

 

Three smart dudes in top hats, obviously all wine merchants thinking seriously about getting someone to load or unload those crates and barrels. The horse is thinking he’ll just wait till they decide what to do. No point in rushing things.

Those gates and railings? Still there today, I think, at the bottom of Kensington Palace Gardens. Even then, not just anybody could enter.

The next picture must be after 1890.

 

 

Slaters is stiil there on the far left. You can see part of a sign reminding clients of its services to the royal family. Outside, are another horse and cart are ready to go. You can even see the alley leading to Hodgson’s.  Next door is the Duke of Cumberland public house and a few other businesses. Above them all towers the side of the newly built  Royal Palace Hotel. Although the photo is faded you can just see the word Hotel in big letters.

Here’ a map section pinpointing Slaters.

 

 

The map also marks the Bank I referred to in this post, named after a favourite phrase from the Survey of London.

You’ve probably noticed that the Slaters in the first picture is not the same building as in the earlier pictures. This section of the High Street was subject to a London County Council road-widening scheme in 1902-1905. The management of Slaters took this opportunity to  build a much more prestigious and striking  structure.

 

 

 

 

Higher, and definitely more Burgundian. In 1902 it was celebrated in The Architect magazine. This image is what is called an ink photo, which I take to be an actual photograph gone over in ink to make it more suitable for publication in an illustrated periodical like the Illustrated London News. (You can see more examples of these in this post). It’s a nice clear image, which even offers a tantalising view up the alley. Is that a ladder in the distance? Unfortunately you can’t zoom in on these ink photos as easily as with a photographic print.

They also provided an interior view.

 

I love those light fittings.

I haven’t called Slaters a forgotten building as I sometimes do on the blog because it had a long history on the High Street and stayed in the lee of the Royal Palace Hotel until both of them were demolished at the end of the 1950s.  The early days of the hotel are another story of course, and one we will come back to soon. Kensington High Street always has more stories to tell.

Although my Kensington memory doesn’t go back to the 1950s I’m sure there are still plenty of people who saw Slaters in its heyday, or have family memories of it. If so, please leave a comment.

 


Princes Place: another backwater

We’ve had a bit of a hiatus on the blog since the end of January caused partly by the fact that I had a cold, and partly by some general upheavals in the building which have occupied us somewhat. Both Isabel and I have been working on posts which require a bit more work than usual  to do properly so this week I decided to pull some Photo Survey pictures off the back burner and do a relatively straightforward post.

Princes Place fits the description backwater as I’ve used it on other occasions. (Here, and in other posts – try this one.) It’s a narrow street which makes its way from Queensdale Road to Princedale Road near to Holland Park Avenue. Try navigating it now on Google Street View and you’ll see some modern flats, some walls at the backs of gardens and a few original houses. But it was a bit more varied back in 1970, when most of these pictures were taken.

This particular image has always been a favourite of mine because of a detail in the bottom left of the picture.

 

 

That dog, who seems to be engaged in quiet contemplation of some canine matter, not bothered by the photographer. Perhaps he’s decoding some olfactory clue in his immediate vicinity. It’s the internet of dogs, their sense of small. A little way to the rear a woman leans on her garden gate. She may be the dog’s solicitous owner, wondering what he’s up to. Or she may be keeping an eye out in case he wanders in through that open gate in front of him. We’ll never know. But I think I can detect a thoughtful look to him (or her). At one point I considered doing a post entirely about animals caught randomly by our photographer, but I’ll leave that for another day.

With its terraced houses and gardens, the street looks more substantial than it does today but to orientate us, here is the narrow entrance in Queensdale Road,

 

 

The building on the right is still there, and that shuttered garage entrance can still be found.

 

 

 

The street looks pleasant enough to me. Homely, if a bit ramshackle about the edges. Are these back gardens, perhaps?

The house on the right is definitely quirky, almost rural.

Slightly further along is some demolition, with one exposed interior.

 

 

 

Further detail of the ongoing work in other houses. Princes Place, as people in 1970 knew it, wasn’t long for this world.

 

 

Below, a man perches on top of an empty house.

 

 

 

Look back at the dog picture and you might just be able to make him out again.

The same picture has a man on a bicycle in the distance

Here he is again on the edge of this picture.

 

 

Experiencing some slight difficulty, I think

These pictures invariably  allow us to to see some cars of the period.

 

 

 

The rather ugly Ford Anglia (does anyone have fond memories of those?).

And a Vauxhall.

 

 

 

 

The estate version of…the Victor? (I’m sure someone can confirm this or correct me.)

Equally invariably in back street,s a working vehicle attached to a nearby garage.

 

 

 

And a variety of buildings.

 

 

The intriguing 17a, home of some eccentric person I hope.

And at the end of the road…

 

 

The aforementioned garage, named after the street.

 

 

Note that this is not the same entrance.

 

 

Sales and servicing available within.

This view looking back.

 

 

You can see the entrance to the garage, a Morris Minor “woody”, the only car subject to dry rot, and in the distance of course, the same man on the same bicycle (his third appearance you will have noticed.)

Take a walk through what is still a backwater today, virtually or actually, and you will will only see a few remnants of how the secluded enclave of Princes Place looked in 1970.

Postscript

I’m writing my way back in to blogging in this post, getting myself moving again after a period of exhaustion. But I’m not complaining. Mortality has not been idle while I took a breather. I’ll just mention the sad death of one of the country’s funniest men, Jeremy Hardy. Another name added to  the roll call of the News Quiz, and I’m Sorry I haven’t a Clue.


Postcards from the land of ruins

This week’s post arise from some postcards in a scrapbook in our collection, put together by members of the Old Comrades Association of the 22nd Royal Fusilers (The Kensingtons). the scrapbook contains memorabilia relating to reunions, trips to places in France and Belgium where the members served, and to war cemeteries and memorials. Along with photographs taken by the travellers, there were also printed postcards bought by them while travelling. I realised that this was not an uncommon form of souvenir when I found postcards of the same type in a small album I brought home from my mother’s house a couple of years ago. This is a typical example.

 

 

At first glance it seems like an odd form of souvenir, scenes of destruction, even ones as striking as this, but we  have to remember I suppose that these scenes were fresh in the minds of survivors of the Great War, still trying to make sense of an intense period in their own histories.

 

 

Many former soldiers must have travelled back to places they remembered.

 

 

When they last saw these ruins, they must have been accompanied the sounds of warfare and the threat of personal danger.

 

 

The first five images come from the album now in my possession.

 

 

The next ones are from the OCA scrapbook.

 

 

See how the road has been cleared but not the rubble. The authorities must have wanted the ruins to be seen, so show what had happened to buildings which were once an integral part of everyday life.

 

 

Some of the photographs were taken while the war was still taking place.

This one shows the same building in 1914.

 

 

In some cases, substantial parts of the bombed or shelled buildings remained.

 

 

In other the devastation looks almost total.

 

 

Another part of the same city


This one shows more low level damage.

 

 

A figure is visible on the right of the picture.

These picture are all sombre, and remind us of the lives lost in the Great War, but at the same time they remind us of the ruins of antiquity, as in this postcard from my mother’s album, posted in 1912.

 

 

The Sphinx was still partially covered by sand.

 

 

The message ( I have no idea who the recipient was, or the sender) is simply a birthday greeting. The two people concerned (two women, or a woman and a man?) had no idea what new forms of ruin would be created by the events to come in their near future.

Postscript

I’ll come back to the OCA in a future post, but I thought these unusual postcard images deserved their own outing. We’ve become used to the destruction of war in modern cities, but we should remember past destruction as well, just as the members of the OCA did.


Luker’s interiors

As I said in my first post about William Luker Jr, his illustrations to W J Loftie’s Kensington: Historical and Picturesque number over 300. So I haven’t covered all the best ones in two posts. There are still plenty left. In this case we’re following Luker inside various homes in the Kensington area.

 

 

Light shines through glass panels in the door showing a hall with ornate paneling and a fireplace. Beside it a chair with a high back, over which is draped a robe of some kind. It’s these little details that always intrigue me. here’s another empty space.

 

This hall is pleasantly cluttered with a seemingly random collection of art objects. It seems to be a common feature in the rooms of Luker’s friends, like at Lowther Lodge. (An interesting building in itself.)

 

 

 

Also cluttered in parts, but quite spacious too.

 

 

Luker had access to some luxurious properties, like this drawing room with plants and paintings.

 

 

And this studio, currently unoccupied.

 

 

With a large painting taking shape.

Another empty hall, with a decorative floor.

 

 

And eventually we see some people. In this case John Everett Millais, posed with a palette in hand, facing his wife Effie.

 

 

The Millais house was in Palace Gate, and is now an embassy. It was Effie they used to say, whose pubic hair frightened John Ruskin (although if I mention it I feel obliged to say it was probably not true. The marriage was annulled. Ruskin later went on to found an institution we’re very fond of here at the Time Centre.)

Below, another old friend of the blog.

 

 

Edward Linley Sambourne, another friend of Luker’s. at work in his studio in Stafford Terrace.

From empty or sparsely populated rooms to a room at the Kensington Vestry Hall which is filled with people and music.

 

 

 

A musical evening. Some ladies removed their hats for the convenience of other audience members. Others kept them on, but people would have been too polite to mention the matter.

In the previous century, a less informal musical evening in a house in Kensington Square, coloured in for the published version of the illustration.

 

 

And in Luker’s “now”, hundreds of people in a room to hear a concert, at the Albert Hall.

 

 

 

 

But I think he was happiest in a nearly empty room.

 

 

With just a cat, perhaps, checking the room for feline friendly refreshments.

 

 

Or a couple of dogs in another cluttered room in Notting Hill Square. They look like they’re waiting for Luker to go so they can choose a sofa or chair in which they could relax.

Finally, back at the Millais house.

 

With a seal. Not a real one of course. It’s not Rossetti’s, after all.

All these rooms could have had a story. I’m sure Miss Miranda Green could have been in many of them. She was very well connected. But she wasn’t here this week. Perhaps next time….

 

Postscript

I’ve got a cold so I’m not very lively at the moment, hence the low word count this week. But Mr Luker’s pictures are usually evocative enough on their own.


%d bloggers like this: