Westbourne Grove

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Westbourne Grove is a glamourous shopping street in London's Notting Hill.

It is now home to a mixture of independent and chain retailers, such as Joseph, Ted Baker, Whistles, Agnes B, Paul Smith and the like.

It is a constantly evolving area, with its share of retail successes and failures. There are many popular shopping destinations located around Westbourne Grove, such as Ledbury Road, Holland Park Avenue, Portobello Market, and Clarendon Cross.

The Notting Hill Carnival; which attracts 1 million people each year, passes along the central part of Westbourne Grove.

When the London magazine Time Out was featuring west London in its 9-16 August 1997 issue, it picked on Westbourne Grove as its representative:

"Seeking a key shopping road symbolic of western aspirations, we decided that preposterously fashionable Westbourne Grove, or "Westbourne Village", has it all. It was here that Madonna headed during breaks in filming "Evita" - to the funky boutiques, the avant-garde florists, the designer jewellery and futuristic furniture (at millennial prices). This is certainly up-and-coming - in terms of price tags that is."

[edit] History of the Westbourne area

The development of Westbourne Grove began in the 1840s and proceeded from east (which lay in Bayswater) to the west, where it became the principal east-west artery into the Ladbroke Estate. The far western end of the street only became known as Westbourne Grove relatively recently in 1938, having previously been called Archer Street. Westbourne Grove has one end at Kensington Park Road and the other at Queensway. Although Westbourne Grove was constructed as part of the westward expansion of London in the 1840s, Westbourne is a genuinely local name, and goes back to the middle ages, long before the land had been built on as residential property. There were originally two settlements, one to the east and one to the west of a river. The settlement to the east was Paddington. The church of St Mary's, Paddington, still stands on its original site, although the present classical building was built in the eighteenth century. The area to the west was Westbourne, (in Old English Westan Burnan) because it was west of the river or bourne. It is recorded in 1222 as Westeburn and in 1294 as Westborn. Westbourne Green is recorded as Westborne Grene in 1548, Washborne Green in 1680 and Wesborn Green in 1754. Although Westbourne was a place west of a river, this was eventually forgotten and in the nineteenth century the river itself became known as the River Westbourne. The River Westbourne was diverted underground around what is now Ossington Street, but previously flowed across Westbourne Grove on its way south to the River Thames. The area to the west of the river was more thinly populated than Paddington and did not have its own church. For this reason, it formed part of the parish of Paddington until it reached the boundary with Kensington which was also mainly open country in the part now traversed by the western Notting Hill stretch of Westbourne Grove.

There was a small settlement to the north of what is now Westbourne Grove at Westbourne Green. It had five main houses. The largest of these was Westbourne Place or Westbourne House, which was rebuilt in 1745 by the architect Isaac Ware as an elegant Georgian mansion of three storeys with a frontage of nine windows divided into three parts. The central third was topped by a large pediment and contained the main door, which also had a pediment over it. The lower two storeys were formed into bays at each end, which contained three windows each. Amongst the well-known residents of this house were Sir William Yorke, baronet; the Venetian ambassador; the architect Samuel Pepys Cockerell (a great great nephew of the diarist Samuel Pepys); and the General Commander in Chief of the Army, Viscount Hill, who left in 1836 (and who gave his name to the modern road bridge north of Westbourne Grove called Lord Hill's Bridge). The house was demolished in 1836 to make way for the houses and gardens of what is now Westbourne Park Villas. Thomas Hardy lived in this area, mainly at no 16 Westbourne Park Villas, which was his home 1863-67.

Also north of what is now Westbourne Grove was Westbourne Farm which was the home, between 1815 - 1817, of the actress Sarah Siddons, who lived there with her daughter. The Farm was at the point where the Harrow Road, the Westway and the canal converge. Mrs Siddons was buried at St Mary's Church, the main church of Paddington, on Paddington Green, where her grave can still be seen.

Notting Hill Post Office, on Westbourne Grove, finally closed in a storm of controversy during early 2005. However, the Royal Mail retained its sorting office on the site.

[edit] External links

Westbourne Grove

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