Hidden London

Barons Court

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Hammersmith & Fulham
A made-up name for the compact residential locality situated between Hammersmith and West Kensington. Hammersmith (or Margravine) Cemetery was consecrated in 1869 and soon afterwards Major Sir William Palliser built the first suburban houses to its east. Palliser was the inventor of armour-piercing projectiles known as Palliser shot, while his wife was famous as the model for Sir John Millais’s portrait Charlie is my Darling. There is no evidence of any specific baron having lived here and the Barons Court name was probably just Palliser’s playful allusion to nearby Earls Court. However, one local historian questions this explanation – at least as the sole reason – and suggests a possible link with the Barronscourt estate, in County Waterford, Ireland.

After recovering from the bankruptcy of their West Kensington Estate Co., William Gibbs and John Flew ventured into Barons Court, graduating from stucco to red brick as they moved west of Vereker Road and building a bridge over the railway line to improve access. Barons Court station did not open until 1905, 30 years after the construction of the line. Art deco terraced houses went up on Barons Court Road in the 1930s and flats replaced some bomb-damaged houses after World War II.

Talgarth Road was the home of the Royal Ballet School (originally the Sadler’s Wells Ballet School) from 1947. The lower school moved to the White Lodge, Richmond Park in 1955 and the upper school to Floral Street, Covent Garden in 2003. The Barons Court building has become home to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

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Established in 1886, the Queen’s Club claims to have been the first multi-purpose sports complex anywhere in the world. It is now best known for the pre-Wimbledon tennis championships held every June and is the national headquarters for real tennis and rackets.

Mahatma Gandhi lived on Barons Court Road while studying law and visited the Congregationalist Church on Castletown Road that has since become the Bhavan institute for Indian art and culture.

Postal district: W14
Station: District Line; Piccadilly Line (zone 2)

 
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