|Courtfield Gardens (East)||Kensington & Chelsea|
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 the 1840s. The development of the northern part of their estate came a little later, encouraged by construction of the Metropolitan and District Railways and by the new church of St Jude's. Courtfield Gardens (East) was built c.1873 and abuts the church. The garden is unusual in being partly sunken, the lower level apparently the original level of the ground, and the mounds at the edges created from spoil from building the railway.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/10/2007
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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 (East) - Photo: Faiqa Syed
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's Church, Gloucester Road. St Jude's Church was designed by George and Henry Godwin and opened in December 1870, the tower and spire added in 1879.
An extract from EH listed building information for the church states that: 'St Jude's was built at a boom time for church building in Kensington and coincided with the first great clashes over ritual. It was a "Low" church built on the initiative of the Revd J A Aston in anticipation of the development of the northern part of the Gunter estates, and financed by rich evangelical businessman John Derby Allcroft, a wealthy glove manufacturer. Seating was designed to accommodate some 1,600 people. It is an unusual example of design attempting to reconcile orthodox ecclesiological ideas about the visible separation of nave, aisles and chancel with the seating traditions of evangelical worship.'
Courtfield Gardens (East) was built c.1873 and abuts the church. The garden is partly sunken, this lower level apparently the original level of the ground, and the mounds at the edges created from spoil from building the railway. The generous number of communal gardens indicated the type of buyer that the Gunters were aiming at. Sir George Gilbert Scott lived at No. 39 from 1877-1878. Ownership of the communal gardens for both Courtfield Gardens East and West remained in the Gunter family, and in 1928 was Sir R V Gunter. The gardens were for the use of the freeholder and lessees of houses abutting the garden, who paid a rent to cover its upkeep; a Committee of lessees was appointed to maintain it. The garden railings were removed during WWII for the war effort; bomb damage in 1940 demolished No. 65 Courtfield Gardens and damaged windows in St Jude's and throughout the square.
The gardens today have banks of azaleas, rhododendrons and shrubs surrounding the deeply sunken garden, which now contains a miniature bog-garden and rockery, ornamental flower beds and many self-seeded violets. A children's playground is to the south, to the west a flight of steps leads to a lawn on the upper level with rose beds and small trees. The sunken garden to the north has flower beds, seats. Around the top level is a path with shrubs either side. A Gardens Group of residents looks after the maintenance, in addition to employing a part-time gardener one day and one afternoon a week.
Survey of London; RBKC Courtfield Conservation Area Proposals Statement (nd); Report of the Royal Commission on London Squares, 1928; History section of Courtfield Gardens West website (www.courtfieldgardens.net); EH listed building information on St Jude's Church