Page 10: Growth of a Victorian suburb

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The late 18th and 19th centuries were a period of great expansion as the demand for building land increased. Hans Town, created by Henry Holland on the Cadogan Estate, and Knightsbridge were among the first to be developed. In Kensington development was patchier. Edwardes Square was built between 1811 and 1819, a forerunner of the elegant garden squares that now dominate the area. In North Kensington development began on the Norland Estate followed by the Ladbroke Estate after the demise of the short-lived Hippodrome racecourse.

But it was between 1850 and 1880 that the area was to undergo a complete transformation, from a rural landscape to an urban one. Estate development played an important role, which led to a greater architectural harmony as landowners frequently used the same architects and builders. They also co-operated in improving communications, in particular the laying out of roads. South Kensington, despite the speed of construction, was a high-class residential area composed mainly of large terraced houses of the ‘premier type’. In North Kensington large terraced houses, garden squares and fine villas were built, especially in Notting Hill. Smaller speculative projects were the norm in Chelsea. In southern Kensington alone 1600 houses were built in 10 years. The final stage came in the late 1880s with the arrival of the mansion blocks such as Kensington Court with large luxury flats and modern conveniences including lifts and electric light.

Purpose built artists’ studio houses were another architectural feature of Kensington and Chelsea. Artists such as Frederick, Lord Leighton commissioned the best-known architects of the day and artistic communities were created in the Melbury Road area, Tite Street, Glebe Place and Manresa Road.


Map of Kensington 1848

Map of the Parish of Kensington, 1848
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Map of Kensington 1879

Map of the parish of Kensington, 1879
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The History of the Royal Borough

Virtual Museum – The History of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
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