Tuesday 22nd April – 13th meeting of 2014
We met up at Charing Cross, but as the underground trains were severely delayed we caught one of the new buses to Kensington High Street and after a coffee in M & S made our way along to Melbury Road to resume the walk we started a few weeks ago.
Melbury Road is adjacent to Leighton House, which was the home of Lord Leighton who in the 19th century was the most famous resident of the artists colony which formed around the Holland House Estate. In Ilchester Place we also saw the former home of Sir Luke Fields, whose painting of ‘The Doctor’ (1881) hangs in the Tate. It is a lovely large corner house and garden and the neighbouring house – The Tower House – was the home of the Gothic revival architect William Burgess who designed the house and interiors. In 1969 it was bought by the actor Richard Harris who completed the interiors according to Burgess’ original design.
This area forms part of the Holland House estate and consists of many large houses and gardens which are all different in design and because of the early spring were in full bloom with beautiful trees, bushes and flowers.
Holland House itself was bought by Henry Fox in the 18th century and he was the father of Charles James Fox, the Whig politician, so it was used for political meetings and many famous people visited it. However in World War 11 it was nearly destroyed by bombing and now only one wing remains which is used as a youth hostel and the garden ballroom is a restaurant with the Orangery an exhibition centre. Walking through the arch we looked at the painted mural depicting a garden party at Holland House in the 1870’s.
In the walled gardens there was an amazing array of coloured tulips and hanging wisteria and colourful shrubs. To the top of this tree there was a peacock sitting on the roof calling but unfortunately we didn’t see him display his magnificent tail.
Crossing the lawn we made our way past the rose walk to the statue of the 3rd Lord Holland, 1872, and through the passageway to the modern Holland Park school building.
We continued into Tor Gardens where there was a plague to Ford Maddox Ford the grandson of the Pre-Raphaelite painter, Ford Maddox Brown, who wrote 80 books during his lifetime but only 3 people attended his funeral in 1939.
We saw the new glass and red brick building of Kensington Town Hall and saw a cul-de-sac at the end of Gordon Place with lots of small houses with beautiful front gardens.
We passed the Elephant and Castle pub and saw antique shops and 18th century houses in Holland Street. We made our way through the gardens of St Mary Abbot church and saw the local church school with the 18th century figures of a boy and girl on the rear wall which came originally from the first school building that stood on the High Street.
From there we walked back to the tube station and home – it was a lovely walk.