Notting Hill: A place whose fortunes have come, gone and come again...
The Royal Crescent is a Grade II* listed street in Holland Park
The Royal Crescent is consisting of two curved facing terraces in a crescent shape. The crescent is located on the north side of Holland Park
Avenue, west of Addison Avenue
, and to the east of the Holland Park
Between the facing terraces is a landscaped communal garden with expansive lawns and numerous trees. The houses themselves are stucco fronted and are built on four floors, with porticoed entrances, above which are small first-floor balconies with iron railings. Each of the end houses have circular corners.
Designed in 1839, The Royal Crescent was inspired by its older namesake in Bath, it differs from the Bath crescent in that it is not strictly a true crescent but rather two quadrant terraces each terminated by a circular bow in the Regency style, rising as a tower, a feature which would not have been found in the earlier classically inspired architecture of the 18th century which the design of the crescent seeks to emulate. The plan of the Royal Crescent was the design of the planner Robert Cantwell, and it was the need for the newly fashionable underground sewers which caused the crescent to be designed in two halves rather than any consideration for architectural aesthetics. On early maps it is marked as Norland Crescent.
The stucco fronted crescent is painted white, in the style of the many Nash terraces which can be seen elsewhere in London’s smarter residential areas. Today many of these four storey houses have been converted to apartments, although a few remain as private houses.
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.