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Notting Hill
Image {{{image}}}
PostCode District W11 & W10
Borough Kensington and Chelsea
OS Grid Reference TQ245805
Latitude 51.5096
Longditude -0.2043

Notting Hill is an area in West London, England close to the north-western corner of Hyde Park, and lying within the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. It is a cosmopolitan district known as the location for the annual Notting Hill Carnival, the setting for the 1999 film Notting Hill starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant, and for being home to the Portobello Road Market.

Notting Hill has a contemporary reputation as an affluent and fashionable area; known for attractive terraces of large Victorian townhouses, and high-class shopping and restaurants (particularly around Westbourne Grove and Clarendon Cross). A Daily Telegraph article in 2004 used the phrase "The Notting Hill Set" to refer to a group of young Conservative politicians, such as leader David Cameron and shadow Chancellor George Osborne. However, the large houses have also provided multi-occupancy rentals for much of the 20th century, attracting Caribbean immigrants in the 1950s who eventually clashed with the indigenous Teddy boys in the Notting Hill race riots.

In addition, Notting Hill has had an association with artists and "alternative" culture since its development in the 1820s. There are also areas of deprivation to the north, sometimes referred to as "North Kensington", or the "Ladbroke Grove" area, from the name of the same street.


Origin of the Notting Hill name[]

The origin of the name "Notting Hill" is uncertain though an early version appears in the Patent Rolls of 1356 as Knottynghull, while an 1878 text, Old and New London, reports that the name derives from a manor in Kensington called "Knotting-Bernes,", "Knutting-Barnes," or "Nutting-barns", and goes on to quote from a court record during Henry VIII's reign that "the manor called Notingbarons, alias Kensington, in the parish of Paddington, was held of the Abbot of Westminster". It is thought likely that the "Nott" section of the name is derived from the Saxon personal name Cnotta, with the "ing" part generally accepted as coming from the Saxon for a group or settlement of people.

Potteries & Piggeries[]

The area in the west around Pottery Lane was used in the early 19th century for making bricks and tiles out of the heavy clay dug in the area. The clay was shaped and fired in a series of brick and tile kilns. On Walmer Road is the only remaining 19th century tile kiln in London In the same area pig farmers moved in after being forced out of the Marble Arch area. Avondale Park was created in 1892 out of a former area of pig slurry called 'the Ocean'. This was part of a general cleanup of the area which had become known as the Potteries & Piggeries.

19th century development[]

The area remained rural until the westward expansion of London reached Bayswater in the early 19th century. The main landowner in Notting Hill was the Ladbroke family, and from the 1820s they began to lay out streets and houses, with a view to turning the area into a fashionable suburb of the capital (although the development did not get seriously under way until the 1840s). Many of these streets bear the Ladbroke name, including Ladbroke Grove (the main north-south axis of the area) and Ladbroke Square (which is the largest private garden square in London).

The original idea was to call the district Kensington Park, and other roads (notably Kensington Park Road and Kensington Park Gardens) are remainders of this. The local telephone prefix 7727 is based on the old telephone exchange name of PARK.

The principal architect of this plan was the Ladbroke family surveyor, Thomas Allom; and its distinctive feature was that instead of houses being set around a garden square, separated from the houses by a road around the square, houses were placed around the edge of the garden square; with the road on the other side of the house. This meant that the houses had direct access at the back to a secluded communal garden, to which people on the street did not have access; and which could not even be seen from the street (mostly). These communal gardens continue to provide the area with much of its attraction for the richest householders.

In 1837 the Hippodrome racecourse was laid out. The racecourse ran around the hill, and bystanders were expected to watch from the summit of the hill. However, it was not a success as it became waterlogged, and was closed in 1841, after which houses were built on the site. The crescent shaped roads which circumvent the hill (Blenheim Crescent, Elgin Crescent, Stanley Crescent, Cornwall Crescent, Landsdowne Crescent), were built over the circular racecourse tracks.

The Notting Hill houses were large, but they did not immediately succeed in enticing the very richest Londoners, who tended to live closer to the centre of London in Mayfair or Belgravia. Rather, the houses appealed to the upper middle class, who could live there in Belgravia style at lower prices. In the opening chapter of John Galsworthy's Forsyte Saga novels, he housed the Nicholas Forsytes "in Ladbroke Grove, a spacious abode and a great bargain".

20th century progress[]

In common with many parts of London, the reputation of the district evolved significantly over the course of the 20th century. As middle class households ceased to employ servants, the large Notting Hill houses lost their market and were increasingly split into multiple occupations. In the postwar period the name Notting Hill evoked a down-at-heel area of cheap lodgings, epitomised by the notorious racketeering landlord Peter Rachman. The area to the north east, Golborne, was particularly known for being, in the words of Charles Booth, "one of the worst areas in London". Southam Street had 2,400 people living in 140 nine-roomed houses in 1923, and the slum children from this street were documented in the 1950s photographs of Roger Mayne. The slums were cleared during redevelopment in the 1960s and '70s when the Westway Flyover and Trellick Tower were built. It is now home to a vibrant Mediterranean community, mainly Portuguese, Spanish and Moroccan.

By the 1980s, single-occupation houses began to return to favour with families who could afford to occupy them, and parts of Notting Hill are among London's most desirable areas. The parts of Notting Hill near Holland Park are characterised by well-maintained stucco-fronted pillar-porched houses, private gardens, communal gardens, access to the public parks at Holland Park and Kensington Gardens, and smart shops.


Notting Hill is roughly encompassed by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s electoral wards of Colville, Golborne and Pembridge. It is bounded on the north by Harrow Road, on the west by Pembridge Villas and Ladbroke Grove, on the south by Westbourne Grove and on the east by Ledbury Road.

There are three tube stations in the area: Westbourne Park; Ladbroke Grove; Notting Hill Gate.

Ladbroke Grove tube station was called Notting Hill when it opened in 1864. The name was changed in 1919 to avoid confusion with the new Notting Hill Gate Station.

Notting Hill in fiction[]

Notting Hill features as a backdrop to novels by G. K. Chesterton (The Napoleon of Notting Hill), Colin Macinnes (Absolute Beginners), Michael Moorcock (the Jerry Cornelius quartet) and Alan Hollinghurst (The Line of Beauty). The area's newer, wealthy residents are satirised in Rachel Johnson's 2006 novel Notting Hell, which is set in grand houses surrounding a fictional communal garden. A 2010 novel by Ali McNamara, From Notting Hill with Love ... Actually is set in the suburb and has a visitors' guide at the end.

The area is also the setting of the 1965 Richard Lester movie The Knack …and How to Get It, Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg's 1968 film Performance starring Mick Jagger, and the 1999 film Notting Hill starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant.

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