Maida Vale house history

This house built in the mid-1850s is part of an imposing stuccoed terrace. Before 1800 the area was open fields leased to farms, transformed by the opening of the Paddington Arm of the Grand Junction Canal. Since then its streets have been compared to those of Amsterdam and Paris, and its canals to Venice. The first occupant of the house was the widow of a large landowner - in fact they were never married. He was described, admittedly by a political rival, as ‘a little rural tyrant’ with scenes of moral depravity at his Somerset castle. Like many of the larger properties nearby, the house became a boarding house, then bedsits.

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Maida Vale house history

Built c1850 in the Italianate style, the street was intended for professional residents: typically barristers, solicitors, civil engineers and doctors. The first family who lived in the house perfectly illustrates rigid Victorian class distinctions. The barrister son, supposedly single and living in the family home, turned out to have a ‘wife’ and four children living in Chelsea. As the daughter of a local cab proprietor, she would not have been considered socially suitable.

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Wandsworth house history

A late Victorian property built in response to the clamour for houses after the huge population increase of London and the introduction of cheaper rail fares in the 1870s and 1880s. The development in this area replaced several large houses built by wealthy businessmen in the early 19th century. An early resident of the house was a member of the Watney brewing family and a keen motor racing amateur.

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Chelsea house history

A house in north-eastern Chelsea built c1848 on the site of nursery gardens south of the old turnpike from Knightsbridge to Fulham.  First occupied by craftsmen, such as carpenters and gardeners, the immediate area by about 1920 had become a smart place to live.  Bertrand Russell, Dirk Bogarde and Alec Guiness were all residents of the street.

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Pimlico house history

A Grade II house built in the 1860s. Originally intended as a southern Belgravia, Pimlico was constructed over the marshlands at great expense by Thomas Cubitt. It was always socially tricky owing to the railway and the great bulk of Millbank Penitentiary next door. The house veered from decades of multi-occupation to some eminent residents later in its history.

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Fulham house history

A house built c1880, in a street mainly occupied by people working for the railways.  A poignant story emerged of a railway signalman who lost his job and in his late fifties became a coal miner in Nottinghamshire.  The house was built near the site of Bartholomew Rocque’s nursery (a florist of considerable reputation, and the brother of John Rocque, the famous 18th century land surveyor of London).

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Westminster house history

A Grade II listed house in Westminster, thought to date from c1725.  A description of the street in 1708, as well as continuous occupancy, would suggest an earlier date of c1700.  Members of Parliament, high-ranking men in the Exchequer, Army officers, dramatists and people with minor titles all lived in the street during its early history.  One wayward teenager ran away to sea in 1746, and provided the inspiration for Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones.

In the 19th century there was a social downhill slide from the 18th century professional single-family homes to multi-occupancy houses, and just behind was an area described by Dickens as ‘The Devil’s Acre’, a haven for debtors and felons.

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