Posts Tagged ‘Brown Hart Gardens’

Mainly Marylebone

Sunday, August 23rd, 2020
The Evangelical Library, Chiltern St, Marylebone, Westminster, 1987 87-5e-16-positive_2400

The Evangelical Library on Chiltern St in Marylebone was built as a school for the Portman Chapel in 1859 by Christopher Eales with minor alterations in 1880 and was Grade II listed in 1994 as “an early surviving example of a church school in a city centre an early surviving example of a church school in a city centre”.

The Library began as the Beddington Free Grace Library, housed at first in sheds and later a brick building in Beddington, before moving to South Kensinton in 1945 and then here in 1948. It grew to contain around 80,000 books and periodicals relating to Protestant and Reformed Evangelical Christianity including many rare and valuable Puritan texts. Over the years the Grade II listed building deteriorated and the the costs of renovation to prevent damage to the volumes led to the library moving out in 2010 to cheaper premises in Bounds Green.

Meacher, Higgins & Thomas, Chemists, Crawford St, Marylebone, Westminster, 1987 87-5e-43-positive_2400

You can still see this shopfront of Meacher, Higgins & Thomas, established in 1814 as chemists in Crawford St, Marylebone, and it has changed little from when I took this picture, though it has a larger illuminated sign at right and those large glass containers of coloured water which marked out every dispensing chemist in my youth disappeared from the upper windows a few years ago.

Marble Arch, Westminster, 1987 87-5f-25-positive_2400

It was a warm day in May and the closely cropped grass by the fountains at Marble Arch seemed a good place to have a rest. I think I probably sat on a bench or wall to eat my sandwiches and afterwards probably made my way down the steps to the public toilets and then under the subway into Hyde Park. Both now gone.

Hertford House, Manchester Square, Marylebone, 1987 87-5f-53-positive_2400

Hertford House, Manchester Square, Marylebone. Hertford House was originally called Manchester House, as it was built in 1776-88 for the 4th Duke of Manchester who apparently wanted to live here for the duck shooting. Presumably he had exterminated them all by 1791 when it briefly became the Spanish Embassy, and then in 1797 it became the home of the 2nd Marquess of Hertford who held many grand parties there, including a Ball celebrating the defeat of Napoleon. Despite this in 1836 it was let to the French as their embassy until 1851.


Hertford House, Manchester Square, Marylebone, 1987 87-5f-55-positive_2400

The 4th Marquess of Hertford preferred to live in Paris, but used the house to store his art treasures, and when the Commune took over Paris briefly in 1871, his illegitimate son Richard Wallace moved back into the house and renamed it Hertford House. He had the house extended in all directions to fit in all the stuff he brought back with him, and what we see now, including the portico, is largely the result of these modifications by architect Thomas Ambler. After his death in 1890 the house was converted into a public museum, The Wallace Collection.

I visited it many years ago and found it a rather depressing experience, but the interior has recently undergone a considerable refurbishment and the experience may well be less oppressive.

Hinde House, Hinde St, Marylebone, Westminster, 1987 87-5f-65-positive_2400

Hinde St runs west out of Manchester Square and the impressive church at the right of this picture is Hinde Street Methodist Church. The first church was built here in 1807-10 but this was largely or wholly demolished and a new Wesleyan church, designed by James Weir, opened in 1887. It remains one of London’s leading Methodist Churches.

Hinde House is a block of expensive leasehold flats, where a two bed flat might cost you a million or two.

Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral, Duke St, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-5g-11-positive_2400

Another place where I’ve often eaten my sandwich lunch in Central London is Brown Hart Gardens on Duke St in Mayfair. The extravagant building opposite this raised stone garden is the former Kings Weigh House Chapel by Alfred Waterhouse, built 1888-91 as a Congregational Church. It is a far cry from the more restrained and often classical church buildings I associate with this non-Conformist denomination. Congregational Churches in the past were staunchly independent, their life ruled by the decisions of the members, reached always by consensus, and I think most that I’ve been familiar with would be far too proud of their Puritan origins to have considered such a design. It seems to me very much more suited to its current use as London’s Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral.

Brown Hart Gardens, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-5g-24-positive_2400

Brown Hart Gardens started life as a real garden between large blocks of working-class dwellings built by The Improved Industrial Dwellings Company in 1886-7, Balderton Buildings and Chesham Building. These were taken over by the Peabody Trust in the 1970s. On Chesham Building is a plaque to the first Duke of Westminster Hugh Lupus, recording that through these and other buildings he provided accommodation for “nearly 4000 persons of the working class’ and naming him “The Friend and Benefactor of His Poorer Brethren”.

The land was a part of the Grosvenor Estate, and the buildings were part of an extensive slum clearance programme in the area. The Duke of Westminster insisted on a garden being created between the two streets of flats, then called Brown St and Hart St, and this was created in 1991.

It didn’t last long. In 1902 the site became an electricity sub-station, and this was built with domed pavillions at each end and completed in 1905. The Duke of Westminster insisted that a paved ‘Italian Garden’ be provided for local residents to compensate for the loss of the former garden, and this remained open to the public until shortly after I took these pictures in May 1987. The London Electricity Board then closed the area. It was refurbished from 2007 on and reopened to the public in 2013, with a cafe around the pavilion at the west end.

You can see more pictures on Page 4 of 1987 London Photos