Bedford Gardens, W8

Road in/near Kensington, existing between 1822 and now

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Road · Kensington · W8 ·

Bedford Gardens is one of the prime residential streets in Kensington.

The street runs between Campden Hill Road and Kensington Church Street. It is wider than most of the neighbouring roads and the houses are mainly Victorian terraced houses of three-storeys, with stucco up to first floor level. They are well set back from the road with large front gardens. There are many trees and shrubs in the front gardens giving the street a particularly ‘green’ feel. The street is on a slight slope and all the front gardens are different many with attractive small box hedges. Many houses have off-street parking and at the western end are some substantial semi-detached houses on the north side with front gardens hidden behind high walls and hedges, giving an almost Edwardian suburban feel to the street.

William Hall borrowed money to develop this area which he had purchased, but he must have over-extended himself because creditors then sued and he had to sell his land in Bedford Garden by auction in 97 lots. Most of the land was bought by William Bromley, a solicitor who then entered into an agreement with Hall, under which Hall was to build a terrace of 51 houses. Possibly they were working together and sharing the profits, because the agreement provided for 99 year leases to be granted to Hall once the houses were built.

The Bedford Gardens development was carried out by William Hall and his sons. Starting at the eastern end of the street, they built 23 houses on the north side and 22 on the south side. Most of them still survive. The development stopped in 1830 when William Hall the younger died and William Hall the elder was again in financial difficulties. Another builder, Robert Paton of Paddington, may have completed Nos. 36-46 (even).

In 1831 Bromley sold land further west on the north side of Bedford Gardens to Walter Urquhart, a merchant in the City, who had also bought the land it backed on to in Campden Street. Urquhart used Robert and Charles Jearrad and Charles Duncan, builders from Oxford Street, to build seven pairs of semi detached houses in Bedford Gardens, which were completed by 1836. These were two-storey brick-faced houses, Nos.  48-74 (even) Bedford Gardens. On the remaining land on the south side of the street, Nos. 85-91 (odd) were built around 1830 by various builders.

At the eastern end there is an attractive Edwardian mansion block – Bedford Gardens House – which is seven storeys high and was constructed in 1909. At the western end of the street there is a 1960s-style block of flats, consisting of five storeys painted entirely in white with glass balconies.

Citation information: Kensington Streets
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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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