Hidden London

Hans Town

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Kensington & Chelsea

Now just the name of an electoral ward, Hans Town was a grand eighteenth century suburb, centred on Sloane Street. Sir Hans Sloane was perhaps Chelsea’s greatest benefactor before Roman Abramovich. A president of the Royal Society, Sloane moved to Chelsea in 1742 and subsequently endowed the Physic Garden. He was instrumental in founding the colony of Georgia and his scientific and literary collection became the nucleus of the British Museum after his death in 1753. During the 1770s the outward spread of London led Fulham architect Henry Holland to spot an opportunity south of Knightsbridge. He acquired building rights from the Earl of Cadogan, who had come into possession of the land via his marriage to one of Hans Sloane’s daughters. Spacious three-storey terraces were erected along the west side of Sloane Street and in Hans Place, then around Sloane Square, and finally in Cadogan Place in 1790. Holland built himself a mansion called Sloane Place in the south-western part of his ‘town’ with grounds landscaped by Capability Brown. Cadogan Square replaced this when R Norman Shaw and others redeveloped Hans Town just a century later, after criticism of the district’s anonymous architectural standards prompted the Cadogan estate to commission new designs. Each house was given its own distinctive detailing, further enhancing the prestige of the locality.

Hans Town mansion blocks
click for area map (opens in a new window)
Street bollard on Cadogan Place

Jane Austen stayed with her brother in Hans Place during 1814–15. Arnold Bennett lived in Cadogan Square from 1921 to 1930.

Postal district: SW1
Population: 9,335

Brewer's London Phrase & Fable

 
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