Portrait of George Borrow

A Skeletal Kensington Timeline

George Borrow lived in Brompton / Kensington from 1860 to 1874.

George and Mary Borrow moved to 22 Hereford Square, Brompton, on 25th September 1860, where George was to live until the second half of 1874.  Mary died at 22 Hereford Square on 30th January 1869, and was buried in nearby Brompton Cemetery.

Brompton was a rather ill-defined place, and tends to be included in Kensington—particularly as in 1860 Brompton was mainly newly-built housing estates, but Kensington had a long history, was affluent, cultural and a royal Borough.

The timeline below is very arbitrary at the moment and was mainly developed to help understand the context in which the Borrow’s lived in Hereford Square.  As far as Kensington Library (the main local studies library covering Brompton) know, there is no timeline for Brompton/Kensington/Chelsea, even in the various local history books.

Currently no Borrovian events are included here, as it’s intended to be just Kensington/Brompton/Chelsea.



Page and source (see below)


Kensington Parish Church (St. Mary Abbots) rebuilt in the form of a Dutch-looking building with a tower at its west end (later rebuilt).

shk 8


Sir William Cope starts to build Holland House

shk 9


Sheffield House (straddled Church Lane) built.

shk 9


Sir Hugh Middleton brings piped water from the New River to Kensington.

shk 14


King’s Square (in anticipation of King William III. moving into Nottingham House) starts to be built.  It’s now known as Kensington Square.

shk 14


King William III., troubled by asthma, moves to Nottingham House which from this date became a palace - i.e. Kensington Palace.

shk 11

24 April 1694

Evelyn takes “Mr. Waller to see Brompton Park, where he was in admiration at the store of rare plants, and the method he found in that noble nursery, and how well it was cultivated.”

mhok 133


Bayswater road notorious for highwaymen and robbers.

shk 14


Grove House also known as Brompton Palace (opposite South Kensington station) built.  Famous residents include Sir John Fielding, brother of novelist Henry (1768-1780) and William Jerdan, editor, joint founder of Garrick Club, Cambden Society etc. (1828-1850)

ecabp 22


Chelsea Waterworks opens.

shk 14


Portobello Farm established (disappears in 1866).

shk 16


Notting Hill Farm established (now the Mitre Inn).

shk 16


The gibbet at Shepherd’s Bush taken down.


George III. moves from Kensington Palace to London, and Kensington Palace is no longer used as Court Palace but continues to be used by the Royal Family.

shk 13


Phillimore House built.

shk 16


Florida Gardens pleasure gardens (now Stanhope Gardens, opposite Gloucester Road station) were established by this date.  The land was purchased in 1797 by the Duchess of Gloucester who built Gloucester Lodge on it.

ecabp 16


Turnpike Act passed, to improve the roads, which are little more than miry tracks.

shk 15


A colony of potters settles on western slope of hill, near where St. John’s Church now stands.  They mainly made tiles.

shk 16


Development of Edwardes Square started.

shk 16


Artesian wells are bored around Kensington, in an attempt to obtain fresh water.  E.g. 130, Holland Park Avenue - which became known as Old Well House.

shk 14


Maitland and York Houses built (demolished in 1904).

shk 16


William Tyler, architect of Gloucester Lodge (opp. Gloucester Road station), exhibited the plans at the Royal Academy.  Around this date the Hogmire Lane renamed Gloucester Road in honour of Maria, Duchess of Gloucester, first tenant.

ecabp 16


The Grand Junction canal to the extreme north of Kensington was opened.  As well as joining Norwood, Middlesex and Paddington, it supplied water for domestic purposes.

shk 17


By this year turnpikes had developed in Kensington with turnpikes at: Notting Hill (near tube station), at the northern end of Church Street in Earl’s Court road, Addison Lane, and Gloucester Road.

shk 15


J. P. Curran (Irish judge) living at 7 Pelham Crescent (then called 7 Amelia Place).  Boon companion of Lord Holland, and “extraordinarily ugly.”

shk 45


William Wilberforce lived at Gore House (about where the Albert Hall now stands).

shk 39; ecabp 19


West Middlesex Water Works opens.

shk 14


George Canning lives at Gloucester Lodge.

ecabp 16


At Montpelier House (now 128-130 High Street), Joseph Hume, leader of the Radical Party and Corn Law agitated lived.



Act of Parliament to provide an additional burial ground in Chelsea passed.  Trustees appointed and 4 acres purchased from Lord Cadogan.  It was consecrated by the Bishop 21st November 1812.

citoapt 125


Moray Lodge on Campden Hill as built.

shk 17


A group of pig-owners move to Kensington, forced out of Tyburn by housing developments.  They remained until 1883.

shk 16

20th Aug. 1818

At a Public Vestry (in Chelsea) it’s agreed to build a new church for not more than £30,000.  This will be St. Luke’s, Chelsea and cost just above £40,000.

citoapt 137


Macadamizing of the roads begins.

shk 154


Kensington House becomes a Catholic boarding school.  Prior to that Mrs. Inchbald spent the last two years of her life there.  She’s buried in Kensington Church Yard.

shk 41

1819, 24 May

Victoria (later Queen Victoria) born at Kensington Palace.

shk 51


Middlesex Company undertake water supply improvement works as the population is growing in Kensington.

shk 14


William Cobbett is living in Kensington High street (house stood where Kensington High Street Station now stands).

shk 49


Waterworks open on Campden Hill.

shk 17


Campden Hill Square, Notting Hill Terrace built.  More building on Kensington High Street.

shk 17


George Coleman, dramatist, living at 22 Brompton Square.

shk 42


A new vicarage of Holy Trinity Brompton is carved out from the ancient parish of St. Mary Abbots (Kensington).  Holy Trinity, Brompton (parish church) built

smb 4, spcg


The Rev. Henry Blunt founds the Chelsea Relief Association which quickly raises £163 towards it’s work.

citoapt 139

8 June 1829

St. Barnabas’ Church, Addison Road, Kensington, consecrated by Dr. Blomfield, Bishop of London.  The first perpetual curate was John Pitman

sbch 6

19 June 1829

Act passed to place the Great Western Road (from Knightsbridge to Brentford Bridge) under the charge of the Commissioners of Metropolitan Roads

mhok 29


Cowper House (off Old Brompton Road, now where Melton Court is), turns into a private lunatic asylum.  It remains an asylum until it’s demolished in 1829.


Vestries Act passed and Kensington Vestry formed (which became the Borough Council in 1900).

shk 17


Kensal Green Cemetery opens.

shk 18


Great Western railway starts.

shk 18


West London railway starts.

shk 18


Prior to this date the north of Kensington was entirely rural.

shk 17


What is now called Pottery Lane, was called Cut Throat Lane at this date.

shk 17


The Hippodrome Race Course (near where St. John’s Church, Notting Hill stands), opened.  It went into liquidation in 1841.

shk 18


John Stuart Mill lives at 18 Kensington Square.

shk 69

1837, 20th June

In the early hours of the morning, at Kensington Palace, Princess Victoria hears of the death of William IV. — she becomes Queen.

shk 51

Good Friday, 1839

No less than 240,000 buns were sold at the Chelsea Bunhouse on Good Friday.

citoapt 200


Sheffield House demolished.

shk 9


Leigh Hunt lives at 32 Edwards Square.

shk 68


The Hippodrome Race Course goes into liquidation.

shk 18


The National School House, attached to Brompton Church, build on the Brompton Road in Tudor style, from designed by Mr. George Godwin

mhok 103

1841, 10 Mar.

Act of Parliament (4 Vict., c. 12) passed to allow purchase and demolition of White Hart and associated buildings, to make a new entrance to Hyde Park.  This becomes the Albert Gate.

mhok 100

1842, 4 Nov.

John Sinclair becomes vicar of Kensington (i.e. St. Mary Abbotts) and remains vicar until his death in 1875.


First use of gas light in Kensington — in a shop.

shk 18

1845, 9 Aug.

Iron gates at Albert Gate, Hyde Park, errected.

mhok 102


Work on building Hereford Square starts.  The builder, Thomas Holmes goes bankrupt, and building stops.

sol vol. 42


W. M. Thackerary lives at 13 (now 16) Young Street, just off Kensington Square.

shk 59


Chepstow Villas, Pembridge Villas and surrounding streets built.

shk 18


Central part of Hereford Square laid out by George Pinckney Whitfield who took over from Thomas Holmes (bankrupt).

sol vol. 42


Barracks in Church Street built on what was the “Queen’s Forcing Garden”, which supplied vegetables to Kensington Palace.

shk 18


Cholera outbreak centred around Jennings Buildings (notorious slum off Kensington High Street)

kp 136

1849, 1 Apr.

Count D’Orsay and Marguerite, Countess of Blessing, flee Gore House to escape creditors.  Gore house auctioned to recover debts, fetches £12,000 and 20,000 people to see auction.

ecabp 20

1850, 22 Oct.

Church of St. Mary, West Brompton (later St. Mary’s Boltons) consecrated by Bishop of London.

smb 5


The Keeleys (actors) lived at 19 Brompton Square.


1851, 1 May

Alexis Soyer, the famous restauranter, (who has turned Gore House into a high class restaurant) opens, just opposite the Great Exhibition.  He takes £21,000 but has an overall loss of £7,000, and closes on 14 October 1851.

catllg 32


The Great Exhibition.

shk 19


Gloucester Lodge demolished.

ecabp 18


Hereford Square and houses now complete.  All houses have their own back garden, and pay an extra £3 rent for the maintenance of the central gardens.

sol vol. 42


Leigh Hunt moved from 32 Edwardes Square to 2 Phillimore Terrace, where he lived for 2 years.

shk 68


Land that was part of the Great Exhibition is rereleased and the development of Queen’s Gate starts CHECK THIS


The house at the corner of Gloucester Road and Clareville Street (now part of the Hereford Arms), was built by Messrs. Mason and Thompson (builders of Hereford Square)

sol v. 38  pp. 19–25

1854, 1 Oct.

Subscription for raising a spire on St. Mary’s (Boltons) was started.  It closed two years later with £10,34 7s. 5d. subscribed.

smb 6


Thackeray moves to 36 Onslow Square, and lives there 8 years.

shk 59


At 18 Notting Hill (now Pembridge Road), lived Chartist leader Feargus O’Connor, who died in 1855.

shk 47


Italian sculptor Baron Marochetti lives at 34 Onslow Square.  He sculpted the central figure of the Albert Memorial, Richard the Lionheart outside the House of Lords etc.

shk 54


The Cromwell Road is formed in it’s present form CHECK THIS


Kensington Vestry open a Ragged School in Coopers Gardens, part of the notorious slum known as “Jennings Buildings” (just off Kensington High Street, opposite Kensington Palace).  Kensington Gazette (Feb. 1855) describes Jennings Buildings as “truly horrible to conceive ... in that narrow compass of that place are crammed nearly 1500 living souls ... filthy and impassable lanes - where vice flourishes and drunkenness rioted”

kp 137


W. Holman Hunt, pre-Raphaelite painter, lives at 1 Tor Villas (now 10 Tor Gardens).

shk 55


Lord Macaulay purchases Holly Lodge, Campden Hill.  He’s created a peer in 1857 and dies at Holly Lodge in 1859.

shk 69


Gore House demolished.

ecabp 21

6 May 1857

St. Philip’s, Earls Court Road, consecrated.  Built at cost of £6,500 with half the cost coming from Joseph Claxton, curate of St. Barnabas

kp 125


The London and Hammersmith Railway starts.

shk 17


Building of Holland Park Estate starts.

shk 19


Foundation-stone of St. Paul’s Onslow Square, laid.

fhy 3


The diary farms, nursery gardens and orchards around the site of the Great Exhibition begin to be replaced by estates of houses.

shk 19


St. Paul’s Onslow Square, consecrated.  First Vicar was Rev. Capel Molyneax (from 1860-72)

fhy 3


The Keeleys (actors) moved from 19 Brompton Square to 10 Pelham Crescent, where Mrs. Keeley was to died in 1899, aged 94.

shk 43

1860, 25 Sept

George and Mary Borrow move into 22 Hereford Square.

knapp ii. 202


Jean Ingelow, poetess, lives at 15a, Church Street.

shk 70


Thackeray dies at 2 Palace Green.

shk 60


Building of Onslow Gardens on land acquired by James Freake from the Commissioners of the Great Exhibition, begins, first occupants moved in 1864

sol 41, p. 103


Building of Cranley Place starts with James Freake having almost finished Onslow Square.  Cranley Place was completed 1867

sol 41, p. 103


Turnpikes done away with.  They had become congested and were seen as a nuisance.  Ridway appears to claim that Gloucester Road was then known as Hogmire Lane.

shk 15

13 June 1864

Hammersmith and City Railway opened for traffic (what is now Hammersmith to Paddington).  Initially the stations were Shepherd’s Bush, Notting Hill, and Bishop’s Road (Paddington).

wlo 11 June 1864

29 Jul 1864

The Paddington to South Kensington Act (i.e. underground railway) authorized by Parliament receives Royal Assent.  This will see Notting Hill Gate, Kensington High Street, Gloucester Road and South Kensington build over the next few years

tml 16, 100yd 8

23 Feb 1865

The contract to build the Kensington to Paddington underground railway awarded to a consortium of firms: Peto & Betts, Kelk, and Waring Brothers

100yd 8, hmrc 10

29 Jun 1865

First cut of Kensington to Cannon street underground railway (i.e. to join at Paddington) cut in Kensington.



Shirley Brooks (editor of Punch), lived at 22 Brompton Square

shk 61


Portobello Road and Golborne Ward developed

shk 19


Sir E. Burne-Jones, painter, lives at 41 Kensington Square

shk 55


Stanhope Gardens, Brompton, starts to be built CHECK THIS

May 1865

An temporary “iron church”, seating around 400, opened in the garden of Rev. Richard R. Chope’s house, corner of Gloucester Road and Clareville Street.  It soon became notorious for “Popery itself under the thinnest guise of the Protestant name.”  It migrated to St. Augustine’s, Queen Street, once the latter was built

sol 38, 349


St. Stephen’s, Gloucester Road, built.  Originally a “low” church it moved anto-catholic and eventually left to become Roman Catholic in 1996

kp 125


Portobello Farm disappears

shk 16

10 May 1866

Overend, Gurney & Co. (bank) fails and 1866 financial panic ensues.  Bank rate rises to 10% and Peto & Betts (then building the Paddington to South Kensington underground railway) fail, and are replaced on the consortium by Charles Thomas Lucas and Thomas Lucas.  The indenture for Peto & Betts leaving the consortium is dated 22 August 1867.

100yd 9


Archdeacon Sinclair issues appeals for support for St. Mary Abbots building fund (greatly needs repair, new church envisioned)

sosma 53


St. Peter’s, Cranley Gardens, built on land donated by Smith’s Charity.  First organist (1871 was Sir Arthur Sullivan)


Baron de Reuter (i.e. Rueter’s news agency) lives at 18 Kensington Palace Gardens

shk 66

29 June 1867

St. Peter’s Church, Cranley Gardens, South Kensington, was consecrated by Rev. Archibald Campbell Tait, Archbishop of London

spcg 6

1868 Apr

Building Committee of 28 members appointed to rebuild St. Mary Abbots.  Initial cost estimate is £35,000.

sosma 54

1 Oct 1868

Edgware Road to Gloucester Road (underground railway) opens.  Brompton (Gloucester Road) station renamed to Gloucester Road in 1907

tml 16, wian 31

24 Dec 1868

The Gloucester Road to South Kensington (underground railway) opens (it continues eastwards to Westminster Bridge)

tml 16, 100yd 100


Gordon Hills, architect, of John Street, Adelphi declares St. Mary Abbots church (known as the Old Church) in advanced stage of decay and danger of total collapse.  Prof. Lewis of London University confirms this.

sosma 51

1869 (Whit Sunday)

Last service held in St. Mary Abbots (Old Church), large congregation with sermons by Vicar and Bishop of London.

sosma 52


Present Parish Church with its tall and graceful spire was built.  The spire is 278 - a height only exceeded by six cathedrals.  It was the work of Sir Gilbert Scott, who lived and died at 3a Courtfield Gardens.

shk 8

17 Apr 1869

An “iron church” that would become St. Matthias, Kensington, opened.  A permanent chancel was consecrated 10 July.

chndx 6


St. Jude’s church, Courtfield Gardens (opens?).  It’s shown on a 1862–5 map in Kensington Local Studies, so something is wrong!

sol 41, 235


Building of St. Augustine’s Church, Queen’s Gate, Brompton, architect William Butterfield, started, eventually completed 1877.  It was intended by Rev. Dr. Irons to be a High Church for the Hereford Square area, but was squeazed out by St. Peter’s Cranley Gardens.

ecabp 74


St. Luke’s, Redcliffe Square build.  Designed by George and Henry Godwin, it’s building pushed Corbett & McClymont into bankruptcy

ecabp 74

1872, 14 May

Rebuilt St. Mary Abbots consecrated by Bishop of London.  A debt of £3,052 remained

sosma 55


Kensington House pulled down and a new Kensington House built by Baron Grant.  The new house was never inhabited

shk 42


As part of the rebuilding of Kensington House (above) Baron Grant bribed the residents of Jennings Building (notorious slum) - they got £2 a room.  Residents moved to Notting Dale or the Potteries.  Jennings Buildings were then demolished

kp 137

1876, December 13

First funeral service ever held in St. Mary Abbott’s (a little girl)


Samuel Smiles lives at 8 Pembroke Gardens, where he died

shk 71

1874 (second half)

George Borrow leaves 22 Hereford Square to retire to Oulton, Suffolk

knapp ii. 247


Jenny Lind lives at 31 Kensington Square 77-79

shk 73


T. R. Green, the historian, lives at 14 Kensington Square

shk 71

1879, 15 Nov

Spire of St. Mary Abbots finally completed (7½ years after church built)

sosma 55


Kensington main development more or less over with the rural scene replaced by housing.

shk 20


(New) Kensington House pulled down and replaced by Kensington Court

shk 42


The pig-owners are evicted

shk 17


Addison Road developed.  So-named because it was thought Addison (husband of Countess of Warwick, married 1716), used to walk there to get away from his wife

shk 19


Black Hill, “the habitat for every gypsy for miles around”, is converted into Avondale Park.

shk 17

Most of the above dates comes from Brig.-Gen. Ridgway’s excellent book, with other dates being added from other sources.




Cremorne and the Later London Gardens by Warwick Wroth, 1907.


Chelsea, In the Olden and Present Times by George Bryan, 1869


Earl’s Court and Brompton Past by Richard Tames, 2000.


A Short History of Kensington and Past Notabilities of Kensington by Brig.-Gen. R. Ridgway, C.B., [1935].


Kensington, Geoffrey Evans, 1975.


Kensington Past, Barbara Denny and Carolyn Starren, 1998


The Story of St. Mary Abbots Kensington by Judith D. Guillum Scott, 1942 SPCK.


The First Hundred Years: The Story of St. Paul’s Church, Onslow Square, 1860-1960 by Derek Taylor Thompson.


St. Mary BoltonsThe Country Church of Kensington1850-1964, A Short History by T. F. Gibbs


Survey of London


Life, Writings and Correspondence of George Borrow by William I. Knapp.


Building the Inner Circle Railway, The Railway Gazette, 1946.


The Metropolitan Line: A Brief History.  Charles E. Lee, 1972


100 Years of the District, Charles E. Lee, 1968


History of the Metropolitan District Railway Company to June 1908.  Alexander Edmonds


The Memorials of the Hamlet of Knightsbridge, Henry George Davis, 1859


St. Peter’s Cranley Gardens, 1867–1940: Seventy Years in a West London Parish, Sir Reginald Antrobus, 1940


A History of St.  Barnabas Church, Kensington, London 1829–1979.  Henry Michael Howard, 1979.


The Church Index, William Pepperell, 1872