Tag Archives: Gloucester Lodge

Courtfield Road meets Gloucester Road

One of the people who read the recent post on Ashburn Mews asked if I could continue my walk into Courtfield Road, which has also had significant development since the 1970s. So I looked, and there were indeed pictures of the original buildings next to Bailey’s Hotel and Gloucester Road Station. I’m a little obsessed with that small corner of London myself, as I described in a post about South Kensington, as it lies way down in the lowest levels of  my personal archaeology of London. (Along with Crystal Palace and Clapham South, for family history rather than geographical reasons.) So my apologies to less obsessed readers if we take another turn around the “backside of Cromwell Road” as another reader put it. Here’s our patch again.

 

 

We’re looking east along Courtfield Road. The gardens of Ashburn Gardens are just on our left and way in the distance is that curious single storey white building, the Midland (now HSBC) Bank, a good point to focus on as we head towards Gloucester Road again.

The buildings on the right are still there. This is a closer look.

 

 

I’ve always liked those arch features, although I don’t know if they serve any purpose apart from decoration.

 

 

I had to check to see if that pale protuberance at first floor level was still there, and it is (somewhat cleaner today or is that the effect of colour photography?)

This section, (1-13 Courtfield Road), leading up to Bailey’s Hotel has been replaced by a modern purpose built hotel, functional rather than aesthetically pleasing, but not ugly either.

 

 

This close up shows the join between the buildings as it was in 1969. The arch is still there but now it is the entrabce to the Bombay Brasserie. (There was a catering company and restaurant in there in 1969.)

 

 

I rather like the maxi coat worn by the woman crossing the road. As well as being fashionable, it was December when these pictures were taken.

The picture below shows the full facade of Bailey’s Hotel.

 

 

If we move back a little and swing round to look northward, we can see the other side of the street.

 

 

We’re looking from Ashburn Place at 2-12 Courtfield. There’s another tower or turret at the end of the row, and below, a closer look at that.

 

 

See the tall chimney stacks behind the blocks, and below, by the entrance to Ashburn Mews, another curious detached building with a tower, which looks at first as though some very dry business was conducted inside.

 

 

The building was called Gloucester Lodge and was the location of one of the offices of the estate agents Roy Brooks. The company was once famous for its forthright descriptions of properties in Sunday newspapers, some of which were collected in two slim volumes, “A brothel in Pimlico” and “Mud, straw and insults”. If this passed you by let me quote from the cover of the first volume: “Wanted: someone with taste, means and a stomach strong enough to buy this erstwhile  house of ill-repute in Pimlico. It is untouched by the 20th century as far as convenience is concerned. Although it reeks of damp and worse, the plaster is coming off the walls and daylight peeps through a hole in the roof, it is still habitable judging by the bed of rags, fag ends and empty bottles in one corner….10 rather unpleasant rooms with slimy back yard. £4650 freehold – tarted up these houses make £15000. ” Those were the days when £15000 was a lot of money.

It has the look of a resolutely traditional business which disguised the iconoclastic methods of its proprietor.

 

 

On the ornamented tower, a large sign pointing you into the Mews, where there were indeed more than one garage. A few cars are huddled against the buildings as they frequently did in mews streets, perhaps as unnerved as pedestrians by the lack of pavements.

 

 

And the edge of the Piccadilly Line side of Gloucester Road Station.

It looks as though the second station was still in use for Underground purposes although the florists shop is already there.

 

 

We’ve looked at the station before of course in a number of posts, but I can’t help circling round it once more, in an era when it was not surrounded by much taller buildings.

 

 

These wintry scenes show the slightly seedy charm of this still windswept corner of London.

 

 

Finally, the mirror image of the first picture, looking west up Courtfield Road at a small area of now forgotten buildings with its mixture of ordinary Victorian facades and quirky towers. This was once the modern face of urban life, and although altered by development it retains the atmosphere of an arrival point for west London.

 

 

Postscript

I don’t mind being back here at the station. The question I always ask myself, given the dates of the pictures, is did I just miss seeing the towers and the rest myself, or have I actually walked past them at some point without paying much attention? If the images are all there somewhere in my mind will they surface sometime from the lost past, or were they never there in the first place?

Almost certainly, we’ve now finished with this small corner of Kensington. I think. Next week something completely different as we used to say in the 60s.


Down Brompton Lane: more houses and stories

This is another leg in our journey through Old Brompton in the first half of the 19th century when Brompton Lane (now Old Brompton Road) was a main artery linking Fulham with the Kensington Turnpike. You already know that this was a country of market gardens, nurseries, inns and and tea houses and above all isolated houses known through watercolours by Cowen and Shepherd or maps with the evocative names of their makers – Greenwood, Crutchley, Starling.

We start at a house we have seen before.

Gloucester Lodge THS15b Cpic 119

Gloucester Lodge was the short lived home of the politician George Canning, built on the site of Florida Gardens opposite the future site of Gloucester Road station. Thomas Hosmer Shepherd has captured a certain gloomy wildness in the scene. Canning was never happy there.

The most enigmatic of the artists of the old Brompton area was the artist of the Red Portfolio.

Hale House  2538

Hale House was a little way north of Brompton Lane between Gloucester Lodge and Roslin Cottage which we’ve also seen before. Greenwood’s 1820 map shows several of the houses we’ve encountered in our travels.

Greenwood 1820 - Copy

John Rocque’s 1741-45 map of Kensington shows it in a rather more isolated position and calls it Hell House which is surely an error (there were many variations in the names of places on these early maps) but it is one which would have pleased the Red Portfolio artist who loved a good story. The other story about Hale House is that it had once been occupied by Cromwell, but although the house was 16th century this is doubtful. The name stuck though and when the grounds of the house were turned into a public tea gardens in 1785 they became Cromwell Gardens. The artist notes that the owner was hedging his bets with a bust of Charles II over the door. The gardens were entered by a small bridge just visible under the arch on the right of the circular lawn. “Mr Hughes used to exhibit his feats of horsemanship in the circle around the tree.”

The house had several outbuildings as can be seen in this watercolour by William Cowen.

C8 Hale House

I’ve split the image below in half. The house had a partial moat fed by a spring. The spring also supplied water for  a bath house.

The Conduit in the grounds of Hale House 2522

Inside was a conduit used for bathing.

The Conduit in the grounds of Hale House 2522 - Copy

It doesn’t look too inviting, but opportunities for bathing were thinner on the ground then. It looks like a good place for a secret meeting or an assignation, an idea which would also have appealed to the artist.

The figure on horseback was also said to be Cromwell. Hale House was demolished in 1853.

If you had followed the narrow lane (possibly called Cromwell Row) past Roslin Cottage you would come to the alms houses buillt by William Methwold (one of the occupants of Hale House).

Old Mansion, Old Brompton Road c. 1837-40

The Alms Houses are the small buildings on the right. The large building is described by the artist as an old mansion – a later archivist has added “on Old Brompton Road”. One author thinks that the house is Brompton Hall, described in an advertisement of 1749 as “the Great White House” where there was accommodation for “persons afflicted with Nervous Disordesr”. I’m not quite sure how that squares with the position of the Alms Houses on the map above, but who knows? It isn’t the only place painted by this artist which is hard to locate now.

The lane turned south east to bring you to Brompton Lane nearly opposite the Hoop and Toy Inn.

Hoop and Toy C26

Cowen gives it his usual air of bucolic calm. Note the two figures seated at a bench and the tower of St Luke’s Church in Chelsea, only  a short distance  away.

We also have a view of the inn by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd.

Hoop and Toy Inn Thurloe Place THS26a Cpic16

Shepherd was a very much better known artist than Cowen. He painted hundreds of water colour views of London many of which were the basis for engravings which were published in books and seperately. He was a distinctly urban artist with a precise eye for architectural detail so it’s quite appropriate that he should become our main guide as we approach London.

There seems to have been a host of houses in the area with similar names including two Grove Houses, one on Kensington Gore, and the  other close to the Hoop and Toy, also known as Brompton Place and possibly also Grove Lodge. Shepherd calls this Grove House, Bronmpton.

Grove House Brompton THS28a

This Grove House would have been close to the current site of South Kensington Station. At the time of the painting it still enjoys the rural isolation of old Brompton. It had been the home in the 18th century of the magistrate Sir John Fielding the blind half-brother of the novelist Henry Fielding and founder of the Bow Street Runners. The “Blind Beak” had also lived in Chelsea but he died at Grove House in 1780. Sometime later the literary journalist William Jerdan lived there. Jerdan was also a founder – of the Literary Gazette in which he published the first poems of his friend and neighbour Letitia Elizabeth Landon. We came across her, and her tragic history in a previous post.

Shepherd likes the scampering dog and  the birds in the sky (also favourites of the Chelsea artist W W Burgess).

Further east down the road was another large house, Brompton Park House.It went from a single home to one of the inevitable girl’s boarding schools in the 18th century. It had then been split into a terrace of three houses, as it seems to be here, visible on the right, across the street from another inn, the Bell and Horns.

We’ve finally arrived at Brompton Road, the former Kensington Turnpike from Hyde Park Corner to Hammersmith.

Bell and Horn by TH Shepherd THS17

The Bell and Horns looks like a welcome spot to stop on a lonely journey, but imagine Brompton Oratory on the right and buildings right up to a rebuilt three storey verson of  the inn from the left.

But let’s not end the journey at an inn. Not far away in the late 1820s Holy Trinity Church had been built at the lonely end of the road.

Holy Trinity Church Brompton THS20a

An avenue of trees leading down to to the church. The little dog again, and a couple of women in the modest fashions of the 1840s.It could be the setting for an M R James story. Shepherd, like the other artists has his own world of subdued middle class life. This is the direction life was taking in the old district of Brompton.

Postscript

I suppose this is the last of my ventures into old Brompton (although you never know….). We’ll certainly be looking at Thomas Hosmer Shepherd again soon.

Thanks to Isabel for last week’s post. And thanks also to Kim for some last minute scanning earier today.


The quiet life: desirable homes in old Brompton

If you were an estate agent working in the early decades of the 19th century the area around the village of Old Brompton would be a prime territory for you. It was still a nearly rural spot, of quiet roads, market gardens, nurseries, cottages and inns. There was plenty of land available for development, whether the customer wanted a family sized cottage or a suburban villa. Or even something grander. Where Brompton Lane curved south to meet Gloucester Grove there were houses to suit every kind of buyer. Cowen country as we like to call it.

 Greenwood 1820 - Copy

Looking for a place for you, your wife, your four daughters and your servant? What about Hawk Cottage?

C13 Hawk Cottage C13

This detached residence built in 1802 is located in a secluded part of the neighbourhood. There is a secure walled garden where you and your family can enjoy the pleasures of the country free from disturbance.

C12 Hawk Cottage garden

Perhaps you are looking for something a little less modest?

Brompton Villa

This exceptional three storey 1770 property is set well back from the main road. It has nine bedrooms, two dressing rooms, a drawing room, a breakfast room, a kitchen, a larder and cellars. There is a coach house with space for two coaches, an extensive kitchen garden, cow house and piggery. This would be ideal for a large family and staff, or a small religious cult looking for privacy. It was the home for a while of the celebrated poet Laetitia Elizabeth Landon.

Laetitia Elizabeth Landon

The beautiful and talented Miss Landon made an unwise marriage to a Mr McLean, the Governor of the Gold Coast. Lonely and unhappy in Africa, she died according to the coroner’s verdict “of having incautiously taken a dose of prussic acid”. There is an account of her burial  conducted by torchlight in “a pitiless torrent of rain”in the grounds of “the Castle” by a group of cloaked figures which adds a Gothic note to her mysterious death. (S C Hall – see postscript)

The estate owner has also provided some houses on the Old Brompton Road.

OS1862 X9 featuring the Rosary etc

The Rosery - Rosary Old Brompton Road cc

This 1774 house known as the Rosary is the home of Samuel Carter Hall and his wife the novelist Anna Maria Hall, author of such works as Midsummer Eve. The single storey gothic wing was added by Mr Hall as a library. This view may show the author at work.

The Rosery - Rosary Old Brompton Road Library cc

Other artistic residents of the area include the Swedish Nightingale, Jenny Lind.

Jenny Lind - Johanna Maria Lind Goldschmidt K61-1032

The famous singer’s longest residence was further west along the Old Brompton Road but she lived for a time in the nearby villa “Clareville”, depicted below in a sketch by Mr Thomas Hosmer Sheppard.

Clareville 1853 Hosmer Sheperd 36

If these properties are beyond your price range there are several others on our books. In leafy Cromwell Lane opposite the Stanhope Nursery you will find this pair of cottages:

C11  In Cromwell Lane

Rosalind, or Roslin Cottage is the house in the foreground. It is convenient for the White Hart Inn. In the distance is Vine Cottage, an equally substantial small family house with all modern facilities. If you continue along the lane you pass the venerable Hale House (not one of our properties I’m afraid) and turning left find the exceptional residence called Gloucester Lodge here depicted once again by the skilled hand of Mr Sheppard.

Gloucester Lodge - THS 4a

This grand house with its colonnades was the home of the respected politician Mr George Canning.

Turning southward again, and recently on the market is Mr Rigby’s Cottage.

C23  Mr Rigby's cottage

This charming rustic retreat is in need of some renovation but for the right buyer has great potential.

There is one final property to show although the current owners are not inclined to sell. We can quote from that august publication the Survey of London:

An advertisement of the house for sale in 1820 noticed its extensive aviary and conservatory, the ‘high condition’ of the plantations and the ‘particularly beautiful and diversified views’ enjoyed from the house. This shows the severest style of the Regency set off by rustic verandahing and an elaboration of sun-shades and trellis-work around the great west facing bow, evoking the fierce suns of a still crescent empire rather than umbrageous Brompton.

Cresswell Lodge by William Cowen GC2420

We would argue with the term umbrageous. The area enjoys bright weather for much of the year particularly in the salubrious grounds of Cresswell Lodge. The house is currently a school for young ladies. The head mistress Mrs Burchatt, her sisters and their five staff instruct up to 17 girls, particularly excelling in mathematics and French. We are currently negotiating with her with a view to converting the house into a small number of luxury apartments. We have established a small office for prospective clients.

The house is located off the main road behind Hawk Cottage accessed by this picturesque avenue.

C22 Avenue to Cresswell Lodge C22

If you can find your way back to 1842 our office manager Mrs Collins will be pleased to see you.

GEORGE DUNLOP LESLIE - Copy

Postscript

Indigo wash water colours by William Cowen. Pictures of the Rosary and Brompton Villa from S C Hall’s A book of memories (1877). The final picture is a detail from a painting by George Dunlop Leslie.


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