Posts Tagged ‘Swag & tails’

Knightsbridge and Brompton, 1988

Sunday, July 4th, 2021

Brompton Square, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4b-13-positive_2400
Brompton Square, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4b-13

I can’t look at the picture without thinking there should be people on folding bicycles cycling around this small oval island.

Brompton Square isn’t a square, but a long thin rectangle with a garden at its centre off the Brompton Rd, and at its far end is this rounded terrace with its own small oval of private garden in front of it. The square was developed by James Bonnin in 1821 and appears to have changed little with most of the houses now Grade II listed. Three houses sport blue plaques, including one for Stéphane Mallarmé who lived at No 6 in 1863, but the street had and has other famous residents, including “Britain’s most successful serial confidence trickster”, Achilleas Kallakis who bought No 31 at centre-right in this picture in the 2000s for £28 million, proceeding to have the garden dug out for a three-storey basement.

Andrew Ritchie, the inventor of the Brompton Bicycle company was working as a gardener in the area while working on the prototypes for his folding bike and took the name from the Brompton Oratory, whose dome was visible from his bedroom workshop. I’ve ridden a Brompton since 2002, though still prefer my 1980s road bike.

Fairholt St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4b-21-positive_2400
Fairholt St, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4b-21

You will search in vain for the Prince of Wales pub in Fairholt St, replaced in 2015-7 by a “Luxury infill development” featuring something like the retained pub front, a “hi-end single family dwelling, a stone throw from Harrods” which ” boasts a two-level basement, 5 bedrooms, a lift, a spa and a home cinema”, designed by AR Architecture with a construction budget of £3m. The development gained the architects the “Best Architecture Single Residence” award by the United Kingdom Property Awards 2019-20.

The pub was established in 1831 in what was then Middle Street, Montpelier Row. In 1989 it was renamed ‘The Swag & Tails’, and changed from a friendly local to a gastro-pub. According to the Closed Pubs UK web site it was bought and closed in 2009, reportedly “by Tamara Ecclestone (daughter of F1 supremo Bernie) with a view to either rebuilding or expanding the premises considerably and turn it into a late night venue.”

Montpelier Terrace, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4b-33-positive_2400
Montpelier Terrace, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4b-33

This gatepost in Montpelier Terrace has lost the small and rather delicate urn which surmounted it in 1988, and the gardens here are now rather better kept and the houses in a much smarter condition. There is now very little of the small pockets of attractive dereliction that relieved the area then.

Sculpture, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4b-52-positive_2400
The Seer, Sculpture, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4b-52

Gilbert Ledward (1888-1960) produced many war memorials and other monumental architecture with a number of examples still visible around London – including the Venus Fountain in Sloane Square and the bronze sculptures on the Guards Memorial in Horseguards Parade. The Seer was produced around 1957 for the forecourt of Mercury House, 195-199 Knightsbridge, built in 1956–9.

Mercury House was demolished in 2002, replaced by The Knightsbridge Apartments, completed in 2005. I don’t know what has become of ‘The Seer’. Feel free to comment if you do.

Sculpture, Edinburgh Gate,  Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4b-62-positive_2400
Sculpture, Edinburgh Gate, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4b-62

This was the last sculpture completed by Jacob Epstein (1880-1959) shortly before his death and depicts a father, mother, son and dog rushing forwards off from the plinth, encouraged by Pan, the Greek God of the Wild, playing his pipes. Variously known as The Rush of Green, Pan or The Bowater House Group, it was commissioned by the chairman of the Land Securities Investment Trust to stand in front of their newly built offices at Bowater House. When this was demolished in 2006 to be replaced by a yet more hideous new development the sculpture was removed and in 2010 re-installed some distance west in the re-located Edinburgh Gate, its figures again rushing into the green of Hyde Park.

Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Dormition, Ennismore Gardens, Knightsbridge, Westminster, 1988 88-4c-46-positive_2400
Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Dormition, Ennismore Gardens, Knightsbridge, Westminster, 1988 88-4c-46

Originally built as All Saints, an Anglican Church, in 1849, desinged by Lewis Vulliamy in a Lombard style rather than the prevailing Gothic, the church ran out of cash and was only completed in 1860. Then it was given a facelift in 1891-2, with a new west front based on the Basilica of St Zeno of Verona in Verona, Italy. A parish merger made the church redundant in 1955 and it was leased to a Russian Orthodox congregation, who consecrated it in the name of one of their great feasts, the Dormition of the Mother of God. It was later bought by the Russian Orthodox Church.

Ennismore Mews, Knightsbridge, Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea,1988 88-4c-34-positive_2400
Ennismore Mews, Knightsbridge, Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea,1988 88-4c-34

These mews were built for the coaches for the large houses in Ennismore Gardens and Rutland Gate with stabling for the horses and rough accomodation for the servants who looked after the horses and drove the carriages. Ennismore Mews were rather grander than most, reflecting the quality of the houses in Ennismore Gardens which were developed in the 1868-74 by Peter and Alexander Thorn. Their company also built a new Blackfriars Bridge, and used some of the stone salvaged from the old bridge to face the Ennismore Gardens houses. The mews buildings were rather more basic structures, and have been converted to residential use, now selling for around £3.75m.

Ennismore Gardens, Knightsbridge, Westminster, 1988 88-4c-52-positive_2400
Ennismore Gardens, Knightsbridge, Westminster, 1988 88-4c-52

I was amused by the range of rather unusual structures, including the tower of Holy Trinity Brompton and the dome of the London Oratory along with some lesser features. The gateway at left is the entrance to Ennismore Garden Mews.

Click on any of the pictures to go to a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos from where you can browse these and other pictures.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.