|Courtfield Gardens (West)||Kensington & Chelsea|
Courtfield Gardens (West) are private communal gardens provided for residents of the houses that surround it, which were built as part of the Gunter Estate development that took place from 1840s onwards. The northern area of the estate was developed from 1865 encouraged by the arrival of the railway. Courtfield Gardens was built between 1873-81 and the communal garden was formally laid out with lawns, flowerbeds and trees. Lessees of housing abutting the gardens had access on payment of rent for its upkeep. The garden today is bounded by replicas of the original railings and is dominated by an unusually large London plane.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/12/2009
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The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
Courtfield Gardens (West) - Photo: Colin Wing
Click photo to enlarge.
Courtfield Gardens was built as part of the Gunter Estate, and housing development began here in 1865 under the then estate surveyors George and Henry Godwin. The name recalls the large meadow that predated development known as the Great Courtfield, which was part of the Court Fields of Earl's Court Manor. The manor house, Earl's Court House, was once situated on what is now Barkston Gardens (q.v.). In 1797 nearby Earl's Court Lodge and its land was purchased by James Gunter and his family who had made their fortune with a high class confectionary business in Berkeley Square. Over the succeeding decades the family continued to acquire land here. From the mid-C18th onwards much of the area was well-known for its market gardens, nurseries and orchards that provided for London's needs. James's son Robert Gunter continued this land use of market gardening and was much praised for his progressive methods. As house building in this part of London gained momentum, the Gunters began to develop their farmland from the late 1840s, commencing with development of The Boltons (q.v.).
The development of the northern part of their estate came a little later, encouraged by construction of the Metropolitan and District Railways here and by the new church of St Jude, built on a plot of land purchased from the Gunter Estate by the Vicar of St Stephen Gloucester Road. St Jude's Church was designed by George Godwin and opened in December 1870; it abuts Courtfield Gardens (East) (q.v.). The south, west and north terraces of Courtfield Gardens (West) were all begun around 1873 and the east terrace was completed in 1881. The generous number of communal gardens indicated the type of buyer that the Gunters were aiming at. Ownership of the communal garden for both Courtfield Gardens East and West remained the Gunter family and in 1928 this was Sir R V Gunter. The gardens were for the use of the freeholder and lessees of houses that abutted, who paid a rent to cover its upkeep; a Committee of lessees was appointed to maintain it.
Courtfield Gardens West has a more traditional garden square layout than Courtfield Gardens East, having neat lawns with meandering gravel paths, circular clumps of shrubbery and some fine trees, including an unusually large London plane tree that has the widest girth of any in the immediate locality. In 1928 the communal garden was described as 'Surrounded by privet hedge and attractively laid out with lawns and flower beds. Contains some fine trees'. The privet hedging surrounding the garden was removed to make room for new railings, a replica of the originals, for which the Garden Committee received an Environmental Award from RB Kensington & Chelsea. This has improved both the garden and the surrounding area; it now allows visual access to the gardens and has opened up the whole square.
RBKC Courtfield Conservation Area Proposals Statement (nd); Report of the Royal Commission on London Squares, 1928; History section on Courtfield Gardens website.