St. John’s Place leads us past Pottery Lane, a reminiscence of the potteries once here, round which sprang up a notoriously bad district. The brick fields were hard by, and the long, low, redtiled roofs of the brick-sheds face a space of open ground known as Avondale Park. The Park stands on a piece of ground formerly known as Adam’s I3rickfield. It was suggested at one time that this should be used for the site of a refused estroyer, but it was bought instead by the Vestry for the sum of £9,200 to be turned into a public park. The late Metropolitan Board of Works provided £4,250 towards the sum, and the Metropolitan Public Gardens and Open Spaces Association gave £2,000. The laying-out of the ground, which covers about 4 1/2 acres, cost £8,000 more, and the Park was formally opened June 2, 1892, though it had been informally open to the public for more than a year before this date. The most has been made of the ground, which includes two large playgrounds, provided with swings, ropes, seesaws, etc., for the children of the neighboring schools, who come here to the number of three or four hundred. Just at the back of the Park, on the west side, lie St. Clement’s Board Schools, and on the east St. John’s Church Schools. Returning through Pottery Lane, we see facing us at the upper end large brick schools covered with Virginia creeper, adjacent to a small brick Gothic church. This is the church of St. Francis, a Roman Catholic Mission Church, in connection with St. Mary of the Angels, in Westmoreland Road. It was built about thirty-three years ago by Rev. D. Rawes at his own cost, and contains some very beautiful panels on slate by Westlake representing the Stations of the Cross, which were the first done on that material in England. There is also a painting by the same artist on the pulpit. The baptistery, added later, was designed by Bentley, the late architect of the new cathedral at Westminster. The schools adjacent are for girls and infants, and the boys are accommodated at the buildings in the Silchester Road.
Hippodrome Place leads past the north side of the school to Portland Road. A great part of the district lying to the east of this, and including Clarendon Road, Portobello Road, and Ladbroke Grove, was formerly covered by an immense racecourse called the Hippodrome. It stretched northward in a great ellipse, and then trended north-west and ended up roughly where is now the Triangle, at the west end of St. Quintin Avenue. It was used for both flat racing and steeplechasing, and the steeplechase course was more than two miles in length. The place was very popular, being within easy reach of London, but the ground was never very good for the purpose, as it was marshy. The Hippodrome was opened in 1837, and Count d’Orsay was one of the stewards; the last race took place in 1841. St. John’s Church stands on a hill, once a grassy mound within the Hippodrome enclosure, which is marked in a contemporary map “Hill for pedestrians,” apparently a sort of natural grand-stand. The Church was consecrated in 1845, four years after the closing of the racecourse. The entrance to the racecourse was in what is now Park Road, just above Ladbroke Road, near the Norbury Chapel. The district, therefore, all dates from the latter half of the nineteenth century ; it is well laid out, with broad streets and large houses, though north of Lansdowne Road the quarter is not so good. It is very difficult to find anything interesting to record of this part of Kensington; a perambulation there must be, or the borough would be left incompletely described, but such a perambulation can only resolve itself into a catalogue of churches and schools. Ladbroke Grove goes down the steep hill above noticed. St Mark’s Church gives its name to the road in which it stands: it was consecrated in 1863.
Northward, at the corner of Lancaster Road, stands a fine Wesleyan chapel in the Early English style, with quatrefoil and cinquefoil stone tracery in the windows. It is built of white brick and has large schools below. The foundation stone was laid in 1819 and the church opened May 20, 1880. Very nearly opposite to it are the large brick buildings of the Kensington Public Baths. Between the Lancaster and Walmer Roads we come again to the very poor district extending from the Potteries. In Fowell Street there is a square, yellow brick Primitive Methodist chapel, with a stone stating that it was founded “Aug. 2nd, 1864, by J. Fowell, who gave the land.” Fowell Street leads into Bomore Road, at the corner of which stands Notting Dale Chapel ; this is a plain brick building founded in 1851. In the other direction, westward, Bomore Road takes us past the top of St. Clement’s Road, and turning into this we pass St. Clement’s Church, opened in 1867. It is a plain yellow and red brick building, but the walls of the chancel are decorated, and there is a pretty east window. The parish contains 12,000 people, and is one of the poorest in London, not even excepting the worst of the East End.
Mary Place is at right angles to St. Clement’s Road, and in this there is a supplementary workhouse. It contains the relief office, large casual wards, the able-bodied workhouse, and a Poor Law Dispensary. Opposite are large Board Schools; the Roman Catholic Schools in the Silchester Road have been already mentioned in connection with the Catholic Schools of St. Francis. On the northern side of Silchester Road is the Notting Barn Tavern, which stands on the site of the old Notting Barns Farm. Beyond Walmer Road, northwards, are a few rows of houses, and a Board School, and a great stretch of common reaching to St. Quintin Avenue. The backs of the houses in Latimer Road are seen across the common on the west; these houses, however, lie without the Kensington boundary line. A road called St. Helen’s Gardens bounds the common on the east, and leads to St. Helen’s Church, which is a severely plain red-brick building. North of St. Quintin Avenue is another great stretch of common, and at its south-eastern corner lies St. Charles’s Square. The square was named after St. Charles’s College, a Roman Catholic establishment, which forms an imposing mass at the east side. The College was founded by Cardinal Manning. It was humble in its origin, beginning in 1863 with a few young boys in a room near the church of St. Mary of the Angels, Bayswater. Other houses were taken as necessity arose, and in 1812 the numbers were so great that the question of building a suitable college arose. There was at first a difficulty about obtaining the freehold of the site desired -that on which the present building standsbut this was overcome eventually, and the whole cost of the College came to about £40,000. It stands in a square of 11 acres, and was finished in 1874. The building is of red brick with stone facings, and is ornamented by figures of saints; it is about 300 feet in extent. In the centre is a tower, rising to a height of 140 feet, on which are the Papal Tiara and Crossed Keys. A corridor runs nearly the length of the building inside. On the laying-out of the recreation grounds and gardens between one and two thousand pounds has been spent.
The object of the College is to bring education within the reach of all scholars at a moderate cost. The students do not necessarily become priests, but enter various professions, and in 1890 it was reckoned that no less than 1,200 youths had passed through the curriculum. A museum and library are among the rooms. And standing as it does on the outskirts of London, with much open ground in the vicinity, the building is very favourably situated for its purpose.
Over the garden walls of the College we see the high buildings of the Marylebone Infirmary. Further northward are the western gasworks, and just beyond them the well-known cemetery of Kensal Green. The principal entrance is a great stone gateway of the Doric order with iron gates in the Harrow Road. Avenues of young lime-trees, chestnuts, and tall Lombardy poplars line the walks, between which a straight central roadway leads to the church at the west end. The multitude of tombstones within the cemetery is bewildering. On either side of the way are immense sepulchres of granite, marble, or stone. Some in the Gothic style resemble small chapels; others, again, are in an Egyptian style. The church and the long colonnades of the catacombs are built in the same way as the gateway. The cemetery contains 77 acres, and the first burial took place in 1833. The grave of the founder, with a stone inscribed ” George Frederick Carden, died 1874, aged 76,” lies not far from the chapel, with a plain slab at the head.
The roll of those buried here includes many illustrious names : The Duke of Sussex, died 1843, and the Princess Sophia, died 1848, both of whom we have already met in another part of Kensington; Anne Scott and Sophia Lockhart, daughters of Sir W. Scott; his son-in-law, J. G. Lockhart ; Allan Cunningham, died 1842; Rev. Sydney Smith, died 1845; W. Mackworth Praed, 1839; Tom Hood, died 1845; I. K. Brunei, died 1859; Charles Kemble, died, 1854; Leigh Hunt, died 1859; W. M. Thackeray, died 1863; J. Leech, died 1863 ; Sir Charles Eastlake, P. R.A., died 1865; Charles Babbage, P.R.S., died 1871 ; Anthony Trollope, died 1882 ; besides many others distinguished in literature, art, or science.
The name Kensal possibly owes its derivation to the same source as Kensington, but there is no certainty in the matter.
The Grand Junction Canal runs along the south side of the cemetery, and the borough boundary cuts across it at Ladbroke Grove Road. There is a Roman Catholic church in Bosworth Road; it is of red brick, with pointed windows, and is called Our Lady of the Holy Souls. The mission was established here in 1872, and the present building opened in 1882. In the interior the arches and pillars are of white stone, and the altar-piece is a large coloured panel painting. In Bosworth Road, further south ward, there is a very small Baptist chapel with plaster front. The church of St. Andrew and St. Philip stands to the east in Golborne Gardens. It was built in 1869, and is of red brick with stone facings in the French Gothic style. In the upper or northern part of Mornington Road, on the eastern side, is a large Board School, where special instruction is given to blind, or partially blind, children. On the opposite side, slightly further up, is Christ Church, a model of simplicity, and within it is light, lofty, and well proportioned. It has a narthex at the east end. The font is a solid block of red-veined Devonshire marble. The church was founded in August, 1880, and consecrated May 14, 1881.
In Golborne Road we pass a plaster-fronted brick chapel (Congregational). The Portobello Road is of immense length, running north-west and south-east. This quarter is not so aristocratic as its high-sounding name would lead us to infer. Faulkner gives us the origin of the name. “Near the turnpike is Porto Bello Lane, leading to the farm so called, which was the property of Mr. A. Adams, the builder, at the time that Porto Bello was captured.” He adds: “This is one of the most rural and pleasant walks in the summer in the vicinity of London.” So much could not be said now, for in the lower part the road is very narrow and is lined with inferior shops. The Porto Bello Farm seems to have stood almost exactly on the site of the present St. Joseph’s Home for the Aged Poor, which is just below the entrance of the Golborne Road, and is on the east side. This is a large brick building, in which many aged men and women are supported by the contributions collected daily by the Sisters. It is a Roman Catholic institution, and was founded by a Frenchman in 1861, but the benefits of the charity are not confined to Roman Catholics. It was humble in its origin, beginning in a private house in Sutherland Avenue. The present building was erected for the purpose when the charity increased in size. There is a chapel in connection with the building. Exactly opposite is the Franciscan Convent, with its appendage, the Elizabeth Home for Girls. The building, of brick, looks older than that of St. Joseph’s. Behind the convent runs St. Lawrence’s Road, between which and Ladbroke Grove Road stands the church of St. Michael and All Angels, founded in 1870, and consecrated the following year. It is of brick, in the Romanesque style, forming a contrast to the numerous so-called Gothic churches in the parish.
If we continue southwards, either by Portobello or Ladbroke Grove Roads, we pass under the Hammersmith and City Junction Railway, carried overhead by bridges. Ladbroke Hall stands south of the bridge in Ladbroke Grove, and a large Board School in Portobello Road. A little further south in Ladbroke Grove is a branch of the Kensington Public Library, opened temporarily in the High Street, January, 1888, and established here October, 1891.
In Cornwall Road is the entrance to the Convent of the Poor Clares, which is a large brick building, covering, with its grounds, 1 3 acres, and which was built for the convent purposes in 1859, having been founded by Cardinal (then Father) Manning. The nuns, numbering about thirty, are vowed to the contemplative life of prayer and manual labour in the service of God, but do no teaching or nursing, and there are no lay sisters. The next opening on the south side of Cornwall Road is Kensington Park Road, in which stands a Presbyterian church, built of light brick. On the north side of Cornwall Road is Basing Road, in which is a Congregational chapel of white brick. In Talbot Road we see the high lantern tower of All Saints’ Church, founded in 1852, and consecrated 1861. Its tower is supposed to resemble the belfry of Bruges, and is 100 feet in height. The mission church of St. Columb’s at Notting Hill Station is in connection with All Saints’, and ministered to by the same clergy.
A few yards further on in Talbot Road is the entrance to the Talbot Tabernacle. The building stands back from the road, behind iron gates, and is faced with blazing red brick, while over the doorways is a profusion of ornamental moulding.
The streets lying to the south of Talbot Road require no particular comment. At the corner of Archer Street, Kensington Park Road takes a sudden south-easterly turn, and below the turn is St. Peter’s Church, very different from the other churches in the district, being in the Italian style. It was consecrated January 7, 1876. The decoration of the interior is very elaborate, some of the pillars having gilded capitals. In Denbigh Road there is a stuccoed Wesleyan Methodist chapel, dated 1856. Northward runs Norfolk Terrace, lately merged in Westbourne Grove. In it, at the corner of Ledbury Road, stands the Westbourne Grove Baptist Chapel, a fine gray stone building with two southern steeple towers.
The southern end of Pembridge Road is joined at an angle by Kensington Park Road, and at the corner stands Horbury Congregational Chapel, founded in August, 1848. It is built of gray stone and stands in a good position. Nos. I to 15, Clanricarde Gardens, and six shops in Notting Hill High Street, belong to the poor of Kensington ; they are built on land given to the parish by an anonymous benefactor in 1652. This is known as Cromwell’s gift, but there is not the smallest evidence to show that Croxnwell was the donor. Lysons mentions the tradition, but con fesses there is no evidence to support it.
And now we have traversed Kensington from end to end, and in so doing have come across many notable men and many fair women. Kensington is royal among suburbs on account of its Palace, and its annals include history as well as the anecdotes of great men. Yet though old associations live in name and tradition, none of the buildings, as at present standing, date back further than the older parts of Holland House and Kensington Palace, and the greater part are much more modern. The zenith of Kensington’s popularity was not reached until after the Hanoverian Sovereigns sat on the English throne, and this is a mere nothing in time compared with that enjoyed by some parts of outer London-for instance, Chelsea. That there should be so much to say about the district, in spite of its comparative youth, shows how richly it has been peopled. Statesmen, men of letters, royalties, court beauties, and divines we have met. One of the greatest of our novelists and our greatest philosopher were closely connected with Kensington, and the tour made around the borough may fitly rival in interest any but those taken in the very heart of London.