Following last week’s fun and games with the weather – I was pleased to be able to bung on my London Shoes and get back out on the road in search of more unusual aspects of the ‘smokes’ history.
This week’s adventure took me across to west London to explore a specific district of London that is quite unique in its way, and an area that most certainly has its own little vibe going on – the place in question being “Holland Park” London W11.
The unique thing about Holland Park is that it is not only the name of a ‘place’ – it is also a ‘public park’ and a ‘street’ –all of which is located in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.
Geographically, it is a district that is situated between the posh and wealthy Kensington to its south – and the more edgy and bohemian Notting Hill/Ladbroke Grove to its north – and it is an area that certainly has its own little buzz going on.
Architecturally, Holland Park is well known for its massive magnificent Victorian 4 storey, 5/6/7 bedroomed houses (more like mansions to me) – and loads of different styles and designs of these types of houses are scattered throughout the area.
Residentially, it is a hot-spot for celebrities – the big names from the film, TV and arts worlds, plus wealthy businessmen and many foreign embassies, all own houses there – and so it is no surprise that Holland Park is now one of the most expensive residential districts in London or anywhere in the world, with some large houses listed for sale at well over £10m!!!.
The actual area Holland Park derives its name from ‘Holland House’ which was a large mansion built in 1605, and once owned by Lord Holland. Sadly it was bombed during the WW2 blitz, and now only some ruins of the ground floor still remain.
Many of the original roads/streets still remain and each one is recognisable from the architectural style of its houses.
For example ‘Royal Crescent’ was created in 1839 and is clearly inspired by its well-known namesake in the city of Bath. Today, the crescent is Grade II listed.
Other well-known roads/streets such as Campden Hill Square, Holland Park Road/Mews/Gardens, Philmore Street, Aubery Crescent/Road/Street, Abbotsbury Road & Addison Road etc. – were once mini estates within the main Holland House estate.
Holland Park itself (as a park) in my opinion is a little oasis of tranquility stuck in the middle of a very busy urban area, and is spread across 54 acres of what used to be the grounds of Cope Castle within the Holland House estate.
Today, the park has a café ,the Belvedere Restaurant, a giant chess set structure, a cricket pitch, tennis courts, some unusual but interesting sculptures and two beautiful Japanese gardens – the Kyoto Garden (built in 1991) and Fukushima Memorial Garden (built in 2012), a youth hostel, a children’s playground – along with wildlife such as squirrels and peacocks.
It is the site of many open-air theatre and live musical events throughout the summer months.
Other interesting facts about Holland Park:-
* The deepest point on the ‘Central Line’ tube, is between Notting Hill Gate and Holland Park stations.
* Apparently the first ever dahlias grown in England were planted in the gardens of Holland House by Lady Holland in the early 19th century.
* Holland Park Avenue is one of the city’s oldest roads and was once a notorious haunt of highwaymen.
* Lansdown House – in Lansdown Road, was once a prolific recording studio, where loads of artists ranging from Shirley Bassey, John Lennon, Cliff Richard – right through the musical spectrum to the Sex Pistols – recorded their stuff.
*Posh & Becks have their London home in Holland Park (the road)
* Directly across the street from the Beckham’s lives Simon Cowell
*Elton John has a very small and understated London home, just to the north of Holland Park Avenue
*The author Agatha Christie, once lived in Sheffield Street, just to the east of the Park.
*James Joyce the author – lived in Campden Grove, just east of the Park
*Jimmy Page – the founder and guitarist of the legendary Led Zepplin band – lives in Melbury Road
*Next door to Jimmy Page’s place, lives Robbie Williams – although there is currently a bit of needle between Jimmy Page and Robbie, because of all the renovation work Robbie Williams is having done – and apparently Jimmy is not too happy about his ‘noisy neighbour’.
So – following a really enjoyable few hours trekking all around the Holland Park district, taking in all the interesting unique architecture and specific landmarks – I took myself off to “The Castle” pub on the busy Holland Park Avenue, for the customary ‘cheeky’ beer and a packet of cheese & onion crisps.
The Castle has been a pub since 1827 – and still has its original Victorian tiled frontage, whilst its interior blends period features like traditional wood panelling, etched glass and antique chandeliers.
All in all, Holland Park and its unique style and vibe, is an enjoyable place to while away a few hours. Hope you enjoy the accompanying photos.