Extract below originally appeared in pages 177-188 of Edward Walford, ‘Notting Hill and Bayswater’, in Old and New London: Volume 5 (London, 1878). British History Online.
As soon as ever we quit the precincts of Kensington proper, and cross the Uxbridge Road, we become painfully conscious of a change. We have left the “Old Court Suburb,” and find ourselves in one that is neither “old” nor “court-like.” The roadway, with its small shops on either side, is narrow and unattractive, and the dwellings are not old enough to have a history or to afford shelter for an anecdote. About the centre of this thoroughfare, at the spot whence omnibuses are continually starting on the journey eastward towards the City, stood, till about the year 1860, a small and rather picturesque turnpike-gate, which commanded not only the road towards Notting Hill and Shepherd’s Bush, but also that which branches off to the north and north-east in the direction of the Grove of Westbourne. What rural ideas and pictures arise before our mental eye as we mention Notting—possibly Nutting—Hill, and the Shepherd’s Bush and Westbourne Grove! We fear that the nuts, and the shepherds, and the nightingales which, so lately as the reign of William IV., sang sweetly here in the summer nights, are now, each and all, things of the past.
Notting Hill is said to derive its name from a manor in Kensington called “Knotting-Bernes,” or “Knutting-Barnes,” sometimes written “Notting,” or “Nutting-barns”—so, at least, writes Lysons, in his “Environs of London.” He adds that the property belonged formerly to the De Veres, Earls of Oxford (which would naturally be the case, as it formed part of Kensington parish and manor); and subsequently to Lord Burleigh, who, as we have already seen, lived at Brompton Hall, not very far from the neighbourhood of Kensington. In Robins’ “History of Paddington,” we read that the “manor of Noting barons, alias Kensington, then ‘Nutting Barns,’ afterwards called ‘Knotting-barns,’ in Stockdale’s new map of the country round London, 1790; ‘Knolton Barn,’ now ‘Notting-barns,’ was carved out of the original manor of ‘Chenesitun.'” From an inquisition taken at Westminster, in the reign of Henry VIII., it appears that “the manor called Notingbarons, alias Kensington, in the parish of Paddington, was held of the Abbot of Westminster as of his manor of Paddington by fealty and twenty-two shillings rent;” but since the time of the Reformation “Notting-barns” seems to have been considered a part of Kensington. Notting Barns Manor was held successively by the De Veres, and by Robert Fenroper, Alderman of London, who exchanged with King Henry VIII. It was afterwards granted to Pawlet, Earl of Wiltshire, from whom it passed to Lord Burghley. The manor was next held by the Copes, Andersons, and Darbys, and in 1820 it was owned by Sir William Talbot. Down to a very recent period, much of the district through which we are about to pass bore rather a bad character for thieves and housebreakers, and was somewhat noted for its piggeries and potteries; but these have all been swept away by the advancing tide of bricks and mortar. The “potteries” are still kept in remembrance by Pottery Lane, in which is the Roman Catholic Church of St. Francis of Assisi, referred to in a previous chapter. The ground about Notting Hill lies high, and the soil is a stiff clay, while that of Kensington proper is chiefly sand and gravel; but in reality, Notting Hill forms part and parcel of Kensington itself, which stretches away some distance northward in the direction of Kensal Green. “The principal street,” writes Faulkner, in 1820, “runs along the high road for about three furlongs. The village enjoys an excellent air and beautiful prospects on the north, and lying in the direct road for Uxbridge and Oxford, it is enlivened every hour by the passage of mail-coaches, stages, and wagons.”
The neighbourhood has become, of late years, a favourite residence for artists and sculptors, among whom may be reckoned Mr. J. Philip, Mr. Watts, Mr. Holman Hunt, and also Mr. William Theed. On either side of a narrow lane leading from Campden Hill towards Holland House is a nest of mansions, each standing in its own grounds, known as the “Dukery.” Among its present and late occupants are the Dukes of Argyll and Rutland, the Dowager Duchess of Bedford, and Lords Airlie and Macaulay.
Cornelius Wood, a celebrated soldier of fortune, characterised in the Tatler under the name of “Silvio,” died here in 1711. As in most of the suburbs of London which lay along the main roads, so here the various inns and taverns would appear to have shown by their signs a tendency to the sports of the road, for within a short distance we find “The Black Lion,” “The Swan,” “The Feathers,” “The Nag’s Head,” “The Horse and Groom,” and “The Coach and Horses,” many of which, no doubt, were, half a century ago, the resorts of highwaymen when they had done a little bit of business on the Uxbridge or the Harrow Road, and which, if their mute walls could speak, might tell many a tale of coaches robbed, and the plunder shared between the “knights of the road” and obliging landlords.
The parish extends along the Uxbridge Road as far as Shepherd’s Bush. On the left of the road was a piece of waste ground, known till recently as “Gallows Close,” so called from the fact of two men having been executed here for a highway robbery in 1748. The gallows, or part of it, remained till about 1800. The ancient highway from London to Turnham Green is said by Faulkner, in his “History of Kensington” (1820), to have passed by Tyburn to the Gravel Pits, and to have branched off to the left at Shepherd’s Bush, through a field, at the western extremity of which (he adds) the road is still visible, though now entirely impassable from the overhanging branches of the trees on both sides of the road, and from having become a deep slough in the neighbourhood of Pallenswick Green. This was the road where the Earl of Holland drew up his forces previous to the Battle of Brentford, as related in “Clarendon’s History of the Rebellion.” But we must not travel too far afield.
We have already spoken of Kensington Gravel Pits. This must be understood as a vague name for an undefined district, lying partly to the north and partly to the south of the Uxbridge Road; indeed, the greater part was on the north side: this is evident from the fact that the house belonging to Lord Craven, at Craven Hill, which was borrowed by Queen Anne as a nursery for her children, is mentioned by contemporary writers as being “situated at Kensington Gravel Pits.” Several local tradesmen’s tokens, dated in 1660–70, at the Gravel Pits, are engraved by Faulkner. Since the disappearance of the actual gravel pits, their name seems to have been superseded by the joint influence of the new streets on Notting Hill and in Bayswater. Leigh Hunt, in his “Old Court Suburb,” says:—”Readers may call to mind a remnant of one of the pits, existing but a few years ago, to the north of the Palace in Kensington Gardens, and adding greatly to their picturesque look thereabouts. A pleasant poetical tradition was connected with it, of which we shall have something further to say. Now, the Gravel Pits were the fashionable suburb resort of invalids, from the times of William and Anne to the close of the last century. Their ‘country air,’ as it was called, seems to have been preferred, not only to that of Essex, but to that of Kent. Garth, in his ‘Dispensary,’ makes an apothecary say that sooner than a change shall take place, from making the poor pay for medicine to giving it them gratis—
“‘Alps shall sink to vales,
And leeches in our glasses turn to whales;
Alleys at Wapping furnish us with new modes,
And Monmouth Street Versailles’ riding hoods:
The rich to th’ Hundreds in pale crowds repair,
And change “the Gravel Pits” for Kentish air.'”
The spot, in fact, has long been held in high repute for the salubrity of the air, and in the last generation it had become a noted place for the residence of artists. The neighbourhood, too, has long been a favourite haunt and home of laundresses; and no wonder, for Faulkner, in his “History of Kensington,” speaks of an overflowing spring on the Norland House Estate as “peculiarly soft, and adapted to washing,” the same water being “leased to three persons, who pay each seven shillings a week for it, and retail it about the neighbourhood at a halfpenny a pail.”
These were really gravel pits half a century ago, and the inequality of the surface bore testimony to the fact. Sir A. Calcott’s house was in a hollow, artificially made, and his garden was commanded from above by that of his next-door neighbour, Mr. Thomas Webster, then a rising artist, but who retired from the Royal Academy in 1876. Faulkner thus writes in his “History of Kensington,” published in 1820:—”The valley on the north is laid down with grass, and the whole of this district appears to have undergone but little alteration, in respect to culture and division of the land, for several ages. Although the distance from London is scarcely three miles, yet the traveller might imagine himself to be embosomed in the most sequestered parts of the country, for nothing is heard to interrupt the course of his meditations but the notes of the lark, the linnet, or the nightingale. In the midst of these meadows stands the Manor House of Notting Barns, now occupied by William Smith, Esq., of Hammersmith. It is an ancient brick building, surrounded by spacious barns and other out-houses; the public road to Kensal Green passes through the farm-yard.” How altered the appearance of the neighbourhood at the end of half a century!
It is much to be lamented by the lovers of rural scenery that here, as indeed on every side of London, acres which, only half a century ago, were still nursery-grounds and market-gardens, have been forced to give place to railways and their approaches, and to the building of suburban towns. To use the words of a writer in the Cornhill Magazinein 1866:—”The growth of London has gradually pushed the market-gardener into the country; and now, instead of sending up his produce by his own wagon, he trusts it to the railway, and is often thrown into a market fever by a late delivery. To compensate him, however, for the altered state of the times, he often sells his crops, like a merchant upon ‘Change, without the trouble of bringing more than a few hand-samples in his pockets. He is nearly seventy years of age, though he looks scarce fifty, and can remember the time when there were 10,000 acres of ground under cultivation for vegetables within four miles of Charing Cross, besides about 3,000 more acres planted with fruit to supply the London consumption. He has lived to see the Deptford and Bermondsey gardens sadly curtailed; the Hoxton and Hackney gardens covered with houses; the Essex plantations pushed further off; and the Brompton and Kensington nurseries—the home of vegetables for centuries—dug up, and sown with International Exhibition temples, and Italian Gardens, that will never grow a pea or send a single cauliflower to market. He has lived to see Guernsey and Jersey, Cornwall, the Scilly Isles, Holland, Belgium, and even Portugal, with many other still more distant places, competing with the remote outskirts of London, and has been staggered by seeing the market supplied with choice early peas from such an unexpected quarter as French Algeria.”
Building operations would seem to have commenced about this neighbourhood, on either side of the main road, in the early part of the present century. Much later, about the year 1857, a portion of the north margin of Holland Park, abutting upon the roadway, and extending from Holland Lane to Addison Road, was cut off and laid out for building purposes, and two rows of mansions, with large gardens before them, have been erected.
Close by, on the top of Campden Hill, but separated from the main road by Notting Hill Square and Grove, are the reservoirs and enginehouse of the Grand Junction Waterworks Company. The chief works in connection with this company are situated on the north bank of the Thames, a little above Kew Bridge. The water is taken by a large conduit pipe from the middle of the river to the works on the shore, where it is pumped into filtering reservoirs, &c., and then supplied to the town. In connection with the works at Kew is a stand-pipe, upwards of 200 feet in height, by which the water is conveyed through the main pipes into the districts to be supplied. The main which brings the water to Campden Hill is between six and seven miles in length, and the reservoir here is capable of containing 6,000,000 gallons. The tall brick shaft of the works here forms a conspicuous object on every side of Notting Hill. In 1811 a company was formed, who availed themselves of the powers granted by a clause in the Grand Junction Canal Company’s Act, for supplying water brought by the canal from the rivers Colne and Brent, and from a large reservoir supplied by land drainage in the north-western part of Middlesex. These waters were represented to be much superior to that of the Thames; but experience disappointed the hopes of the projectors: the water was found not only to be bad in quality, but deficient in quantity also; and after various vain expedients to remedy the evils, the company, which had taken the name of the “Grand Junction Waterworks Company,” resorted to the Thames, taking their supply from a point near Chelsea Hospital. Adjoining the Waterworks is a lofty castellated building in the Gothic style, called Tower Crecy, erected by Mr. Page, the architect of Westminster Bridge, in honour of the Black Prince, whose emblems adorn the exterior in all its stages. It is said that the holder of the lease of the house is bound to hoist on its summit a flag on the anniversary of the Battle of Crecy. Between Holland Park and the Waterworks are some detached mansions—Aubrey House and others. One of these was the site of some medicinal wells which were of repute in the last century.
On the north side of Notting Hill is Ladbroke Square—so called after the name of the family who took it on a building lease—and which, for style in the houses and the general appearance of the central enclosure, falls but little short of some of the more aristocratic squares of the West-end. The west end of the Square is crossed by Ladbroke Grove, which extends northward as far as Kensal New Town. On the north side of the Square are Kensington Park Gardens, a name given to a goodly row of houses overlooking the Square. The handsome modern Gothic, or Early English, church of St. John, not far off, in Lansdowne Crescent, dates from the year 1845. It is cruciform in plan, with an elegant spire rising from the intersection of the nave and chancel. This church stands on what was “Notting Hill Farm,” when Faulkner wrote in 1820, a lonely hill commanding extensive views, owing to the absence of woods.
Norland Square perpetuates the name of Norland House, a small but well-wooded estate, which, in the reign of William IV., belonged to one of the Drummonds, the bankers, of Charing Cross. Many of the new streets about Notting Hill were built between the years 1850 and 1860.
Orme Square, which abuts upon the Uxbridge Road, overlooking Kensington Gardens, is named after a Mr. Orme, formerly a printseller in Bond Street, who purchased a considerable space of ground lying to the west of Craven Hill, upon which the Square is built. Bayswater House, an isolated mansion in the Bayswater Road, between Lancaster Gate and Orme Square, was the residence of Fauntleroy, the forger. A new range of buildings, to the north-east of Orme Square, was erected about 1815, called St. Petersburg Place, Moscow Road, Coburg Place, &c. These names commemorate the visit of the Allied Sovereigns, in 1814. In the centre of Petersburg Place, Mr. Orme erected in 1818 a private chapel, to serve as a chapel of ease to Paddington. It appears to have been the first private speculation of the kind in the suburbs, and not to have been built till the growth of the population rendered it necessary.
Much of the ground about this neighbourhood, before it was cut up into streets, terraces, crescents, &c.—indeed, as lately as the time when Queen Victoria ascended the throne—was the scene of an establishment which enjoyed some popularity while it lasted—namely, the Hippodrome; but so brief is fame, that although it was flourishing at the above period, it had become almost forgotten after a lapse of twenty years, and its site clean blotted out. For much of the following sketch of the Hippodrome in all its novelty and pride, we are indebted to the Sporting Magazine for 1837:—”Making the cours aristocratique of Routine (alias Rotten) Row, you pass out at Cumberland Gate, and then trot on to Bayswater. Thence you arrive at the Kensington Gravel Pits, and descending where on the left stands the terrace of Notting Hill, find opposite the large wooden gates of a recent structure. Entering these, I was by no means prepared for what opened upon me. Here, without figure of speech, was the most perfect racecourse that I had ever seen. Conceive, almost within the bills of mortality, an enclosure some two miles and a half in circuit, commanding from its centre a view as spacious and enchanting as that from Richmond Hill (?), and where almost the only thing that you can not see is London. Around this, on the extreme circle, next to the lofty fence by which it is protected, . . . . is constructed, or rather laid out—for the leaps are natural fences—the steeplechase course of two miles and a quarter. Within this, divided by a slight trench, and from the space appropriated to carriages and equestrians by strong and handsome posts all the way round, is the race-course, less probably than a furlong in circuit. Then comes the enclosure for those who ride or drive as aforesaid; and lastly, the middle, occupied by a hill, from which every yard of the running is commanded, besides miles of country on every side beyond it, and exclusively reserved for foot people. I could hardly credit what I saw. Here was, almost at our doors, a racing emporium more extensive and attractive than Ascot or Epsom, with ten times the accommodation of either, and where carriages are charged for admission at threefourths less. This great national undertaking is the sole result of individual enterprise, being effected by the industry and liberality of a gentleman by the name of Whyte. . . . This is an enterprise which must prosper; it is without a competitor, and it is open to the fertilization of many sources of profit. As a site for horse exercise, can any riding-house compare with it? For females, it is without the danger or exposure of the parks; as a training-ground for the turf or the field it cannot be exceeded; and its character cannot be better summed up than by describing it as a necessary of London life, of the absolute need of which we were not aware until the possession of it taught us its permanent value.”
The earliest mention of the Hippodrome in the Racing Calendar is to be found in the volume for 1837, when two races were run, the one for fifty and the other for a hundred sovereigns—three horses starting for one, and four for the other.
“At the close of the reign of William IV.,” says Mr. Blaine, in his “Rural Sports,” “an attempt was made to establish a regular series of race meetings, and also a training locality within two miles of the metropolis. To this intent a large portion of land was treated for and engaged close to Notting Hill. Here were erected stabling and boxes for about seventy-five race-horses, with every convenience for a training establishment; a very good race-course also was formed, and numerous stakes were run for on it in 1838. But, unfortunately, the proprietors overlooked one circumstance at once fatal to the Hippodrome, as the establishment was named: the soil was a deep, strong clay, so that the trainingground could be used by horses only at particular periods of the year. This was a difficulty not to be got over, and as a race-course the Hippodrome soon closed its short career, doubtless with a heavy loss to the proprietors.”
It would appear, from other channels of sporting information, that the first public day was given on Saturday, the 3rd of June, 1837, and that it naturally drew together as brilliant an assembly as ever met together in London. “On account of its vicinity to town, every refreshment was provided at a rate for which those who had been used to the terrible extortions elsewhere would hardly have been prepared. Splendid equipages occupied the circle allotted to them, while gay marquees, with all their flaunting accompaniments, covered the hall, filled with all the good things of this life, and iced champagne, which can hardly be called a mortal beverage. The racing was for plates of fifty and 100 sovereigns, with moderate entrances, given by the proprietors. The £100 plate was won by Mr. Wickham’s ‘Pincher,’ and the steeplechase by Mr. Elmore’s ‘Lottery,’ ridden by Mason. There was a second meeting appointed for Monday and Tuesday, the 19th and 20th of the same month, but the former day alone ‘came off,’ the other day’s racing being postponed on account of the death of King William.”
A writer in the Sporting Magazine, who signs himself “Juan,” remarks:—”As a place of fashionable resort, it certainly opened under promising auspices, the stewards being Lord Chesterfield and Count D’Orsay. Another year, I cannot doubt, is destined to see it rank among the most favourite and favoured of all the metropolitan rendezvous, both for public and for private recreation. Unquestionably, of the varieties of the present season none has put forward such a claim to popularity and patronage as the ‘Hippodrome.'” But the defect, which we have already mentioned, in the subsoil was irremediable; and after four years of a very chequered and struggling career, its last public meeting was held in June, 1841. At this date the land along its southern and eastern sides was beginning to be in demand for building purposes, and so pieces were sliced off to form those streets and thoroughfares which lie to the north of Westbourne Grove and south of the Great Western Railway. A large portion of the riding ground, however, was still kept laid down in turf—rather of a coarse kind, it must be owned; and some hedges were preserved, over which dashing young ladies would ride their chargers as lately as the year 1852. But in the course of the next five or six years the green sward, and the green trees, and the green hedges were all swept away, and on the spot selected by the “Di Vernons” and “pretty horse-breakers” for their trial-jumps now stands St. Stephen’s Church.
Portobello Farm was marked in the maps of the neighbourhood as lately as 1830: it was named by its then owner at the time of the capture of that city by Admiral Vernon. It then stood in the midst of open fields, in which the cows and sheep grazed and pigs were fed. In what is now Portobello Road, skirting the eastern end of Ladbroke Square, stands a convent of the Little Sisters of the Poor. The “sisters” themselves feed off the scraps left by the paupers whom they support by going round to the doors of London houses for broken victuals. Upwards of a hundred poor persons are daily supported by the “sisters” in this benevolent manner. The head-quarters of this charity are at Hammersmith, where the chief institution will be described in its proper place. There was a pretty walk this way across to Kensal Green till about 1850–60.
The splendid new town of Bayswater, close by, which has joined North Kensington and Shepherd’s Bush on to London, had no existence during the first few years of Queen Victoria, when “Hopwood’s Nursery Ground” and theVictoria Gardens—so famed for running-matches and other sporting meetings—faced the dull brick wall which effectually shut out the green glades and leafy avenues of Kensington Gardens from the view of passengers along the Bayswater Road. Bayswater is a vague name for the district extending from the Gravel Pits to the north-west corner of Hyde Park. Lord Chesterfield, in one of his poems, has praised the healthiness of the situation, though, probably, he was too fond of the town to walk often so far in the direction of the open country. The whole district of streets, squares, terraces, and crescents sprung into existence in the course of about ten years—between 1839 and 1849. Bayswater was noted of old for its springs, reservoirs, and conduits, supplying the greater part of the City of London with water. With regard to the origin of the name of Bayswater, the following particulars from the disclosures made in a trial at Westminster, as summarised by a writer in the first volume of Notes and Queries, help to elucidate the question:—”The Dean and Chapter of Westminster are possessed of the manor of Westbourne Green, in the parish of Paddington, parcel of the possessions of the extinct Abbey of Westminster. It must have belonged to the Abbey when Domesday was compiled; for, although neither Westbourne nor Knightsbridge (also a manor of the same house) is specially named in that survey, yet we know, from a later record of the time of Edward I., that both of those manors were members, or constituent hamlets, of the ville of Westminster, which is mentioned in Domesday among the lands of the Abbey. The most considerable tenant under the abbot in this ville was Bainiardus, probably the same Norman associate of the Conqueror who is called Baignardus and Bainardus in other parts of the survey, and who gave his name to Baynard’s Castle. The descent of the land held by him under the abbot cannot be clearly traced, but his name long remained attached to part of it; and as late as the year 1653 a parliamentary grant of the Abbey or Chapter lands to Foxcrafte and another, describes ‘the common field at Paddington’ as being ‘near to a place commonly called Baynard’s Watering.’ In 1720, the lands of the Dean and Chapter in the same common field are described, in a terrier of the Chapter, to be in the occupation of Alexander Bond, of Bear’s Watering, in the same parish of Paddington. The common field referred to is the well-known piece of garden-ground lying between Craven Hill and the Uxbridge Road, called alsoBayswater Field. We may, therefore, fairly conclude that this portion of ground, always remarkable for its springs of excellent water, once supplied water to Baynard, his household, or his cattle; that the memory of his name was preserved in the neighbourhood for six centuries; and that his ‘watering-place’ now figures on the outside of certain omnibuses, in the streets of London, under the modern name of ‘Bayswater.'”
The running streams and gravelly soil of this neighbourhood were at one time highly favourable for the growth of watercress, of which, as lately as the year 1825, there were several cultivators here, as in other places in the vicinity of London. The cultivation of watercress is said to have been first attempted, at the commencement of the present century, by a Mr. Bradbury, near Gravesend. Gerarde, the herbalist, says that eating watercresses restores the “wonted bloom to the cheeks of young ladies.” Perhaps that is one reason why that plant is so popular.
On a slanting grassy bank, about a hundred yards from the back of the line of dwelling-houses now bearing the name of Craven Hill, stood, down to about the year 1820, an ancient stone-built conduit-house, whence the water-supply was conveyed by pipes underground into the City. Conduit Passage and Spring Street, both near at hand, thence derive their designation. The conduit was constructed and kept up by the Corporation of London, “to preserve a large spring of pure water, which rose at the spot, and was formerly conveyed by leaden pipes (cast in Holland) to Cheapside and Cornhill.” “It was,” says a writer in the City Press, “one of the most ancient springs in the vicinity of London, and, being situate in a manor once belonging to the Sanford family, and subsequently to the Earl of Craven, was granted to the citizens by one Gilbert Sanford in the twenty-first year of the reign of Henry III., A.D. 1236.” Some reference is made to it in Lysons’ “Environs of London,” where it is stated that the water, “conveyed by brick drains, supplies the houses in and about Bond Street, which stand upon the City lands.” Lysons further states that “the springs at this place lie near the surface, and the water is very fine.” One of the principal reservoirs here, of which the Serpentine received the overplus, was situated where Trinity Church now stands, at the corner of Gloucester Gardens, Bishop’s Road, not far from the “Royal Oak” tavern. In the Saturday Magazine for May 18th, 1844, there is an illustration of the Conduit-head at Bayswater, and in the article which accompanies it, the writer thus observes:—”The sources of the various conduits of London, formerly kept with so much care, have for the most part entirely disappeared. That at Paddington, however, still exists, though probably not in its original form; and Mr. Matthews says that, up to a recent period, it afforded a plentiful supply of water to some houses in Oxford Street. The conduit, or spring, is situate in a garden about half a mile to the west of the Edgware Road, and at the same distance from Bayswater, within two hundred or three hundred yards of the Grand Junction Water Company’s reservoirs. It is covered by a circular building in good condition, and some of the pipes continue in a sound state, although several centuries have elapsed since they were laid down. From the same source, about a century ago, the palace at Kensington received a part of its supply, which was effected by the aid of a water-wheel placed at Bayswater Bridge; but on the establishment of the Chelsea Waterworks, it became useless, and was removed.”
There is also in the illustrated edition of Pennant’s “London,” in the British Museum, a print of this conduit as it appeared in the year 1798, of which a copy is given on page 186. The aqueduct itself was “round, and cased thick with stone, and in the upper spiral part they lapped over each other, tile-like, and were fastened together with iron cramps to the brickwork, thick within. It was of a regular circumference, from the pediment or base about eight feet, and then spread up to the point, and was capped with a ball. Its height, about twenty feet, had four airlets, resembling windows, with a door next the garden, plated with iron plates, over which, in an oblong square, was cut, ‘REP. ANNO 1632’; in another part were the City arms, with the date, 1782.” The water, we are told, was constantly issuing from under the door, through a wooden pipe, at the rate of thirty gallons an hour, and took its course under the bridge into Kensington Gardens. When this water was let to the proprietors of Chelsea Waterworks, a stipulation was made that the basin therein should be kept full. This spring also supplied the basin in Hyde Park, whence, as we have already seen, it was conveyed by a water-wheel, “at Hyde Park wall, near Knightsbridge chapel,” on to the Thames at Pimlico. It also took a subterraneous course into the City, “whose name and arms it bore,” and whose property it was, and to whom now, no doubt, the land belongs all round about whereupon it was built. The water-course to the City was formerly denoted by stones above ground, laid along through the fields; and in the burying-ground of St. George, Hanover Square, which abuts upon the Bayswater Road, was once a brick well and several stones, marked with the City arms, and the date of 1773. There was also a well against the shop, 254, Oxford Street, with the City arms, inscribed “1772.” In the centre of the “conduitfield” there was a very curious antique stone, much mutilated, which pointed out the rise of the spring. There were also two other mark-stones, almost hid in the earth, near to the conduit. When the Craven Hill estate was parcelled out for building purposes, the stone conduit-house was pulled down, and the stream was led either into the main sewer or into the river Serpentine, which rises much farther up in a north-easterly direction, and now rushes, occasionally with great impetus, under the centre of the roadway in Kensington Garden Terrace, and, crossing the Bayswater Road, enters Kensington Gardens where the fountains are.
Apropos of the ancient streams in this locality, it may be added that it is said there was in the olden days very good fishing in the trout stream which ran from Notting Hill Manor towards Hay Hill, Berkeley Square, taking its course through Brook Street, Grosvenor Square, which was built on the high banks of the said stream, where it ceased to blend with the Tye. We know that as early as the reign of Henry III. there were six fountains in this locality from which water was supplied to the City by means of pipes.
In Lambert’s “London and its Environs,” published in 1805, we read:—”Bayswater is a hamlet to Paddington, about a mile from London, on the Uxbridge Road. Its public tea-gardens formerly belonged to the celebrated Sir John Hill, who here cultivated the medicinal plants from which he prepared his essences, tinctures, &c.” Sir John Hill was the son of a clergyman, born about 1716, and bred as an apothecary. He was employed by Lord Petre and the Duke of Richmond in the arrangement of their botanic gardens in Essex and Sussex; and by their assistance he executed a scheme of travelling over several parts of the kingdom, to collect the most rare plants, accounts of which he published by subscription. But this proved a failure, and showed that he was in advance of his time. His “Vegetable System” extends over twenty-six folio volumes! and for this he was rewarded by a Swedish order of knighthood from the king of that country. It appears that, for a time at least, Sir John Hill, though little better than a charlatan and an empiric, enjoyed the reputation of a great and learned botanist. He was at one time a second-rate actor, and he made an unsuccessful attempt to obtain admission into the Royal Society. Garrick’s epigram on him is well known, and has often been quoted:—
“For physic and farces his equal there scarce is; His farces are physic; his physic a farce is.”
Among the medicines produced by Sir John Hill were his “Water-dock Essence” and his “Balm of Honey.” These gardens are now covered by the long range of mansions called Lancaster Gate. They were originally known as the “Physic Garden,” and were opened as a place of amusement towards the close of the last century. They were still in existence as gardens as late as 1854, though no longer frequented by pleasure-seekers of the upper classes. It is not a little singular that the gardens at Bayswater are not even mentioned by name, in the article on “Old Suburban Tea Gardens,” in Chambers’ “Book of Days.” Faulkner, writing in 1820, says that within the last few years Bayswater has increased to a “popular neighbourhood.”
Craven House, which gave its name to Craven Hill, above mentioned, became the residence of Lord Craven’s family some time before 1700, on their removal from Drury Lane. It was borrowed (as stated above) by Queen Anne, as a nursery for her son, the little Duke of Gloucester, before she engaged Campden House, where we have already seen her.
Craven Hill is now called Craven Road, the inequality of it having been levelled by filling up the low ground where a small brook once crossed it from north to south. The houses in Craven Road and Craven Hill Gardens stand on the site of a field which was given about the year 1720 in exchange for the “Pest-field,” near Golden Square, already mentioned; and it may be the reverse of comforting to the inhabitants to know that, under an old agreement between Lord Craven and the parochial authorities, the plot of ground in question may be taken for the purpose of a burialground, in case London should ever again be visited with the plague; unless, indeed, this liability has been done away with by the Act which enforces extra-mural interments. This land was not used during the cholera of 1849; and at the present time, as we have shown above, a grand London square, called Craven Gardens, alone indicates the site of the Pest-house fields. The property, which belonged in former times to one Jane Upton, and was called Upton Farm, was purchased by the trustees of this charity-estate for £1,570.
In 1821 the Toxophilite Society rented about four acres of ground here, between Sussex Gardens and the Bayswater Road, just opposite the point where Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens meet; they formed then part of quite a rural district, the ground shelving down somewhat steeply on the west to a little brook. A pavilion was erected here for the use of the members, and we are told that “there was space for three pairs of targets, with a range of about 200 yards.” The Society held these grounds until 1834, when they removed to their present gardens in the Regent’s Park. The exact site of these grounds is preserved in the name of the Archery Tavern in Bathurst Street, leading to Sussex Square.
In the fields a little to the north of Craven Hill, towards Westbourne Green, was the cottage (see page 147) where the Princess of Wales used to throw off the restraints of royal etiquette in the company of her intimate friends.
The district lying between Kensington Gardens and Paddington, a little to the north of Bayswater, was known, till the reign of George IV., as Westbourne Green, and was quite a leafy retreat at the time of that king’s accession. That portion of the district lying to the north of Westbourne Grove and Bishop’s Road will be best dealt with in our chapter on Paddington; but with regard to Westbourne Grove itself, we may state that, as lately as 1852, this thoroughfare, which now consists almost entirely of attractive shops, was a quiet street, consisting of detached cottages, with gardens in front. At the end nearest Paddington was an open nursery garden, rich in dahlias, geraniums, &c.
Westbourne Terrace, which unites Bishop’s Road with Craven Road, is so called from the West Bourne, a small brook running from Kilburn between Paddington and Bayswater, and passing into the Serpentine. It was built in 1847–52.
Sussex Gardens and Sussex Square, Pembridge Square and Crescent, Talbot and Leinster Squares, Hyde Park Gardens and Hyde Park Square, Cleveland Square and Queen’s Road and Gardens, Oxford Square and Norfolk Square, may be rapidly passed over. Each and all of these places can boast of goodly mansions, interspersed with gardens and enclosures filled with trees and shrubs; but the whole district is of too modern growth to have a history.
Southwick Crescent and Place are named after Southwick Park, Hampshire, the property of the Thistlethwayte family, formerly joint-lessees of the Paddington Manor.
In Gloucester Square, Westbourne Terrace, at No. 11, lived John Sadleir, the fraudulent M.P., who committed suicide on Hampstead Heath in February, 1856.
A splendid new city of palaces, Lancaster Gate, &c., sprung up between 1860 and 1870, on the site of Hopwood’s Nursery Grounds and the Victoria Tea Gardens, which we have mentioned above.
About the year 1861, we may here remark, a novelty, in the way of street railways, was introduced in the Bayswater Road, by Mr. George F. Train, who was at least the pioneer of a useful invention. Permission had been given by the Commissioners of Highways for Mr. Train to lay down the rails for his new conveyance, and the event was inaugurated by a public banquet at St. James’s Hall. Notwithstanding the coldness with which the project was at first received, the plan has since been carried out in various parts of London in the tramways.
In the autumn of 1832, when the cholera was spreading death far and wide throughout the land, Dr. Adam Clarke, the author of a well-known Commentary on the Bible, here fell a victim to that fatal malady. He was engaged to preach at Bayswater on Sunday, the 26th of August, and on the Saturday before he was conveyed there in a friend’s chaise. He was cheerful on the road, but was tired with his journey and listless in the evening; and when a gentleman asked him to preach a charity sermon for him and fix the day, he replied, “I am not well; I cannot fix a time; I must first see what God is about to do with me.” He retired to bed early, not without some of those symptoms that indicated the approach of this awful disease, but which do not appear to have excited any suspicions in himself or in his friends. He rose in the morning ill, and wanting to get home; but before arrangements could be made for his removal, he had sunk into his chair—that icy coldness, by which the complaint is characterised, had come on, and when the medical men arrived, they pronounced it a clear case of cholera. His wife and most of his children, short as the summons was, gathered about him—he had ever been the most affectionate of husbands and parents—and his looks indicated great satisfaction when he saw them; but he was now nearly speechless. “Am I blue?” however, he said to his son—a question indicating his knowledge of the malady under which he was sinking; and without any effort of nature to rally, he breathed his last.
On the north side of the Bayswater Road, about a quarter of a mile from the site of Tyburn Turnpike, is a dreary burial-ground, of about an acre, with a chapel of the plainest description, belonging to the parish of St. George, Hanover Square. In this burial-ground was deposited, in 1768, the body of Laurence Sterne, the author of “Tristram Shandy,” who had died in poverty at his lodgings in Bond Street, as we have already stated. But the body was afterwards taken up by some of the “resurrection men,” and sent to Cambridge to the professor of anatomy for dissection. Such, at all events, is the story told by Sir J. Prior, in his “Life of Malone.” His grave here is marked by a plain upright stone, with an epitaph clumsily expressed, “a perpetual memorial of the bad taste of his brother masons.”
Among other eminent persons buried here were Mr. J. T. Smith, the author of “The Book for a Rainy Day,” and many other antiquarian works on London; Mrs. Radcliffe, the author of “The Mysteries of Udolpho;” and last, not least, General Sir Thomas Picton, who fell at Waterloo; but in 1859 his body was removed, and re-interred in St. Paul’s Cathedral.