Nokes Estate was an agricultural estate in the Earl’s Court area, formerly known as Wattsfield.
Since at least the sixteenth century this area, reckoned as seventeen but in fact nearer eighteen and a quarter acres, had been known as Wattsfield.
Essentially, it included part of Earls Court Lane (now Earls Court Road
) and Barrow’s Walk (now Marloes Road
) and contained an orchard and several fields on which Abingdon Villas
, Scarsdale Villas
and neighbouring roads were later built .
In 1593 it was owned by Robert Fenn and remained in that family until Sir Robert Fenn sold it, with its advantage of a westward abutment on Earl’s Court Lane, to William Arnold in 1652. The Arnolds kept it until 1673, when it was bought by John Greene, and it remained with representatives of the Greene family until at least 1755.
Rocque’s mid-century map shows Barrows Walk bounding its eastern side, on the present line of Marloes Road
By 1810 the owner was Samuel Hutchins, who in that year bought the enfranchisement from Lord Kensington for £1,125. It was at that time divided into four closes, as is shown on Starling’s map of 1822, where the western half appears as one orchard and the eastern half as three closes, seemingly of pasture. As well as Earl’s Court Lane and the former Barrow’s Walk to west and east, Starling shows on the south side of Wattsfield the eastern half of what is now Stratford Road
as a cart-track to the south-east corner of the orchard. In 1843 all four parts were described as ‘market garden’, and are so shown on Daw’s map of 1846.
After Samuel Hutchins’s death in 1844 his widow had had the hedges grubbed up and all thrown into one. Whether or not the change hints at thoughts of a building enterprise (although 1846 was not to be propitious for that in London), a tenancy was given to the Atwood family of market gardeners and it was four years later, with building activity in London on the increase, that the land was turned over to bricks and mortar.
Some time shortly before August 1850 a William Nokes negotiated to buy Wattsfield from Samuel Hutchins’s widow Sarah and her trustee.
Who and what he was is not known except that he was aged about 58, Essex-born and (it would seem) closely related to the Nokes family that was prominent as farmers, millers and Congregationalists at Upminster, where his sons James Wright Nokes and George Nokes had been born.
He was already a debtor, probably for some £2,709, of the London and County Bank, to whom he proposed the loan to him of the purchase price by rather puzzling means that purported at once to secure the loan and liquidate his existing indebtedness. The Bank obtained two surveyors’ reports on the land, and agreed to advance £11,000. It was lent, however, not to William Nokes but to his son George, aged about twenty-five, with whom the agreement with the Hutchinses was evidently concluded.
George Nokes’s elder brother James Wright Nokes, who came to share the family’s interest in the property, was a timber merchant, and by 1856 George Nokes also had a timber merchant’s business in St. Pancras: in legal instruments he called himself builder, brickmaker or gentleman.
From 1853 to 1859 he seems to have lived at Abingdon House, just off this estate, with his father and brother.
Development was carried out by his son, George Nokes, and also to a lesser extent, James Wright Nokes.