Hidden London

West Brompton

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Kensington & Chelsea

Squeezed almost out of existence by Fulham, Chelsea and Earls Court, between which it lies, West Brompton was an area of fields and market gardens until the late eighteenth century. Much of the land was acquired from 1801 by the Gunter family, confectioners of Berkeley Square. Over the course of the nineteenth century the Gunters and their lessees built thousands of houses on newly created streets, named after a variety of family associations. Edith Grove, for example, honours Captain Robert Gunter’s daughter, who died of scarlet fever at the age of eight. Finborough Road is named after the country seat of the Pettiward family, another local landowner. Brompton cemetery was founded in 1837 as the West of London and Westminster Cemetery. It has a formal layout with a central chapel, based on St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Previously the land had been fields and market gardens, mainly owned by Lord Kensington. An additional 4 acres was obtained in 1844 from the Equitable Gas Company, giving access to Fulham Road. The cemetery was compulsorily purchased from the private owners in 1852 by the General Board of Health, becoming the first and only London cemetery under government control. Around 200,000 people have been buried here, including eleven holders of the Victoria Cross, 3,000 Chelsea Pensioners, suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst, and singer and operetta composer Richard Tauber. In 1997 the Sioux Indian Chief Long Wolf was reburied in South Dakota, having been interred at Brompton in 1892.

The children’s writer Beatrix Potter often walked in the cemetery and seems to have found the names for many of her characters on the gravestones here.

click for area map (opens in a new window)
Names on the cemetery's headstones include Mr Nutkin, Mr McGregor, Jeremiah Fisher and Peter Rabbett

Dylan Thomas’s first London home was 5 Redcliffe Street, where he was surrounded by “poems, butter, eggs and mashed potato.” The Finborough public house has a highly regarded upstairs theatre, opened in 1980.

Postal district: SW10
Population: 8,625 (Redcliffe ward)
Station: District Line, also limited Silverlink Metro service from Clapham Junction (Zone 2)
Websites: www.royalparks.gov.uk - the cemetery
Finborough theatre site

Brewer's London Phrase & Fable

 
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