Barn Elms Farm

Barn Elms was recorded in 1540 and was formerly the manor house of Barnes. The land and manor belonged to St.Paul’s Cathedral and in 15th century was the home of Sir John Saye, Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The manor house was later the home of Elizabethan spymaster Sir Frances Walsingham. The house was rebuilt by Thomas Cartwright in 1694. The farm was just to the north of the house.

Barn Elms Farm was variously the residence of William Cobbett (a political writer), Abraham Cowley (a poet) and of Heidegger (Master of the Revels to George II). Jacob Tonson lived in the old house called “Queen Elizabeth’s Dairy”. He placed here a gallery for the Kit-Cat Club.

William Cobbett was an innovator of cultivation – experimenting with the growing of maize and the practice of self-supporting husbandry.

He saw himself as a champion of traditional rural society against the transformation due to the Industrial Revolution.

The Lobjoit family, Huguenot refugees, had settled in Kent. In the 1820s, W.J. Lobjoit became head gardener to the Rothchilds family and founded the market gardening firm of W.J. Lobjoit and Son Ltd. In 1840, W.J. Lobjoit bought the first of a series of Barnes farms – Gypsy Lane Farm on Upper Richmond Road. At the beginning of the Crimean War, Bell Farm in Putney (now the site of a church) became the home of his son W.J. Lobjoit junior. In 1856, Putney Park Farm (also known as Dulleys), which adjoined Gypsy Lane Farm, was taken over.

In 1843, the new South-Western Railway was built through Lobjoit’s land. After Lobjoit senior died in 1868, the market garden business was extended by his son to other farms including Barns Elms Farm in 1886.

A series of misfortunes affected the Lobjoit family in 1894 and the Government selected Barns Elms Farm during the Fashoda crisis of 1898 as a site for waterworks to supply London in case of war with France. In 1902 the first balloon meeting of the Aero Club of Great Britain was held here.

The final farmer was Francis Trowell.

Eventually the Barn Elms estate was sold to the Hammersmith Bridge Company. The Ranelagh Club, an upper class social and sporting club with a strong interest in polo, was based at Barn Elms house from 1884 until 1939. From 1946 the grounds were used for sports by the local authority.

Eventually the land, which belonged to the Church Commissioners, was bought by developers and there were plans for housing. The house was badly damaged in a fire and finally demolished in 1954. Meanwhile, the development plans came to nothing.

Parkway, NW1

Parkway, a tree-lined street, was developed from Crooked Lane in the 1820s and 1830s with three-storey houses on both sides. Until 1938, Parkway was known as Park Street.

Just after the Second World War, a Camden Town local reminisced:
“Park Street, which we now call Parkway, was full of shops instead of architects’ offices and estate agents as it is now. By eight in the morning the shop boy was busy cleaning the windows and polishing the outside brasses, sweeping and burnishing inside ready to open at nine and close twelve hours later for seven shillings and sixpence a week. Shops were graded. Fenn’s, the grocers at the corner of Delancey Street and Park Street, was a cut above the others, wrapping all purchases in brown paper, while most used newspaper.”

The street now has a mix of retail and restaurant uses with some small businesses.


The Downham Estate arrived on the scene in 1926, but its name originates in 1914 when the London County Council (LCC) agreed to build three large housing estates. The land was acquired in 1920. Downham covered the lands of two farms, Holloway Farm to the west and Shroffolds Farm to the north. Before the Estate was built, there had been little building south of Whitefoot Lane – many local residents took weekend walks over the ’Seven Fields’.

The name ’Downham’ derives from Lord Downham who, as William Haynes Fisher was a former chairman of the LCC. Many of the road took their names from Tennyson’s ’Idylls of the King’. Other roads took their names from places in Devon.

By summer 1930, 6000 houses had been completed by builders Holland, Hannen & Cubbits. An additional section of just over 1000 houses was developed at Whitefoot lane in 1937 by builders Higgs & Hill and generally known as ’North Downham’. On completion, some 30 000 people lived on Downham’s newly built Estate. Generally people commuted to work elsewhere. A cheap “workman’s ticket” from Grove Park station became available from November 1928.

Shopping facilities came to the the New Bromley Road in 1926, followed by centres at Grove Park, Burnt Ash Lane and one adjacent to the Downham Tavern. The Downham Tavern was the only public house built on the area owned by the LCC. It was for some years considered the world’s largest pub, containing a Dance Hall, Beer Garden, two Saloon Bars, a Public Lounge, a Lunchroom where service was by waiter only.

When Downham was first built, it was regarded as a showpiece. A Lewisham official guide from the 1930s described Downham as a ’Garden City’.

By 1960, the first LCC houses were being put up for sale as local policy changed. The area was split between two London boroughs in 1965 – the northern majority became part of Lewisham. Around Southover, the London Boroough of Bromley took over.

Addiscombe Road, CR0

Addiscombe Road connecting Croydon with the hamlet of Addiscombe (situated near to the site of today’s Sandilands) to its east. Addiscombe as a place name is Anglo-Saxon in origin, meaning “Eadda or Æddi’s estate”.

The road was known as Upper Addiscombe Road in the 19th century to contrast with Lower Addiscombe Road – water from a spring ran down the hill.


Historically it was part of Surrey and until 1965 was in the Municipal Borough of Barnes. The Stuart and Georgian history was economically one of malting, brewing, farming, watermen and a great tapestry works.

The Waterloo to Reading railway line runs through Mortlake – the station opened on 27 July 1846.

The University Boat Race finishes at Mortlake every March/April.

Gloucester Road, SW7

Gloucester Road runs north-south between Kensington Gardens (at which point it is known as Palace Gate) and the Old Brompton Road at the south end. At its intersection with Cromwell Road is Gloucester Road underground station, close to which there are several pubs, restaurants, many hotels and St Stephen’s Church (built in 1867 and, notably, the church warden of which was the poet T. S. Eliot).

In 1612 or earlier it was called Hogs Moor or Hogmire Lane. It was a ’lane through marshy ground where hogs are kept’, a name that was still used until about 1850. and it was the site of an ultimately unsuccessful pleasure garden (and for a while a pick-your-own fruit and flower farm) in the late 18th century. At that time most of the vicinity was filled with nurseries and market gardens.

The road is now named after Maria, Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh who built a house there – Villa Maria (later Orford Lodge) – in 1805, on part of the pleasure garden’s site. She died there two years later. The politician George Canning bought the property in 1809 and retained it until 1825. The house (latterly called Gloucester Lodge) stood in extensive grounds close to what is now the south-east corner of Gloucester Road’s junction with Cromwell Road.

Much of the surrounding area was built up in the second quarter of the 19th century or soon afterwards.

Argyle Road, N12

Argyle Road follows the line of an old footpath which crossed the brook at what was called Frith Bridge.

The very short stretch of road between Nether Street and a footbridge over the railway was created in 1872 with the road beyond this bridge having been an early twentieth century construction.

Brickfield Cottages, WD6

Brickfield Cottages were built in 1858 by Charles Morgan, who owned the brickfield next door.

Further cottages were built in 1868 for railway workers but of interest to their further story is a parallel story of local Henry Robinson. who came into possession of some of them.

Robinson built the ’Red Road’ bridge over the railway – this linked Parkfield to Theobald Street and additional gave access for Tilehouse Farm to reach some of its fields cut off by the new line.

Robinson owned much of the land in Borehamwood and in 1871 built a parade of shops in Theobald Street almost opposite the entrance to Brickfield Cottages. The shops became known locally as ’Robinson’s Folly’ – they expected the venture to fail. But the venture didn’t and the shops remain in existence today.

Robinson gave two of the Brickfield Cottages to his daughter as part of her dowry.

Bounds Green

Bounds Green was originally an overnight stop for travellers, being just short of the tollgate at Turnpike Lane. The name is derived from the former Bounds Green Farm near Cline Road.

Nowadays Bounds Green is a residential suburb, just north of Wood Green.

Bounds Green underground station opened in 1932 in an area previously known as Bowes Park – there is also a Bowes Park railway station.

Land of Promise, N1

The Land of Promise formed a part of the estate of Richard Haryong in the sixteenth century. The plan of the Land of Promise shows that at the south-west corner it did not reach Hoxton Street – the boundary ran to a point 75 feet from the street.

In 1545, Richard Haryong bequeathed a life interest in his lands to Margaret. He also bequeathed a legal title to his daughter, Alice Marowe. In 1557, Alice and her husband sold on to Thomas Cudsden and Alice Haddon. After the death of Margaret, of a messuage, two barns, a stable, a garden and three acres of Hoxton land came into their ownership. By 1626, Richard Middleton owned the property and land.

In 1633, Middleton sold it to the parish of Shoreditch as three tenements and three acres of land. In 1776, an existing lease was surrendered. A fresh lease was granted for the western part of the property, and the eastern portion used for the provision of a workhouse. On the expiry of the western lease in 1847 the remainder of the property was appropriated for the workhouse.

The Land of Promise became the rear entrance to the workhouse – the main access was from Kingsland Road.

The workhouse area was extensicely reveloped post-war. The line of the Land of Promise remains as access to the newer area but it not really given a name now.