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The old court suburb : or, Memorials of Kensington, regal, critical, & anecdotical (Volume 2) online

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of General Fox, in whose person, the descendants
of Sir Stephen Fox have again married with royalty ;
the lady of the gallant officer being one of the
daughters of King William the Fourth.

It is curious to see the new turns that are taken
by the children of new generations. A royally
descended ancestress of the Foxes, grand-daughter
of King Charles the Second, would as soon have
thought of flying to the moon, as of ' editing ' a
political romance. The name of Lady Mary Fox
has transpired in editorial connection with a book
of this kind ; which, under the title of an ' Expedition



THE OLD COURT SUBURB 37

to the Interior of New Holland,' is an Utopian
speculation, remarkable for its powers of reflection
and for its liberal principles, without, in the least
degree, derogating from what is becoming in the
sex of the fair editor.

The landlords of some of the houses in Addison
Road did not very happily christen them, when they
called them ' Homer Villa,' ' Cato Cottage,' etc. Cato
might very well have lived in a cottage ; and his
ancestor, Cato the Censor, probably did ; but people
are not accustomed to associate the idea of Caesar's
antagonist with a cottage ; and the impression is
not mended, when they find that the cottage is
named after Addison's tragedy. ' Homer Villa '
is worse ; for who can associate the idea of the
great ancient wandering poet with a modern citizen's
box ? or what critic could have fancied, that a house
in a road named after Addison would ever have been
named after Homer, because Addison was supposed
to have written the version of the first book of the
' Iliad,' which bore the name of his friend Tickell !

Addison Road is of some length ; is adorned with
a modern chapel in good ancient style ; and the backs
of the houses on the eastern side make sequestered
acquaintance with the trees of Holland Park. Addi-
son Terrace does not do equal honour to its name.
The houses have a thick, stunted, and huddled ap-
pearance. We believe, however, that they are better
and larger than they seem.



29884,3



38 THE OLD COURT SUBURB

From this point of Kensington to its western
boundary a little further on, we know of nothing
worth mention, except the boundary itself, which
runs through the nursery-grounds of the Messrs Lee.
These grounds have been known in the parish books,
under the title of the Vineyard, ever since the time
of William the Conqueror. Wine, described as a
sort of Burgundy, was actually made and sold in
them, as late as the middle of last century.

Wine was formerly made in many parts of England,
probably in no great quantity. It naturally gave
way to drinks more congenial to the soil. The
right, popular wine of countries which do not produce
wine of the best quality, is that which free trade
ought to bring them (and will bring them) from those
which do.

Another interesting circumstance connected with
this spot, is, that it has been in the hands of the
respectable family that occupies it, for three genera-
tions. The founder of it, James Lee, author of one
of the earliest popular systems of Botany, was a
correspondent of Linnaeus.

In order to avoid the dulness of retracing our steps,
we go a little beyond the bounds of the parish, and
turning north and westward through pleasant Brook
Green, and no less poetically - named Shepherd's
Bush, return to it, and ascend Netting (originally,
perhaps, Nutting) Hill. By this we arrive at Ken-
sington Gravel -pits, which is a kind of second



THE OLD COURT SUBURB



39



Kensington High Street, being to the northern
boundary line of the suburb in the Uxbridge Road,
what the High Street, commonly so called, is to
Kensington proper in the road to Hammersmith.




T" H I

/MS*



Since the disappearance of the actual Gravel-pits,
their name seems to have been superseded, of late
years, by the joint influence of the new streets on
Netting Hill and in Bayswater ; all this portion of
Kensington to the west of the turnpike being now
addressed, we believe, post-officially, as Netting Hill ;



40 THE OLD COURT SUBURB

and all of it, to the east of the turnpike, being under-
stood, in like manner, to belong to Bayswater.

We regret the loss of the old name for many
reasons. The district called the Gravel-pits, or at
least so called in books, and in directions of letters,
appears, on a rough calculation, to have compre-
hended all the north and north-western side of
Kensington, lying between Netting Hill, Bayswater,
Holland House, the Church, and the Palace.

Readers may call to mind a remnant of one of the
pits, existing but a few years ago, to the north of the
Palace in Kensington Gardens, and adding greatly
to their picturesque look thereabouts. A pleasant
poetical tradition was connected with it, of which
we shall have something further to say. Now, the
Gravel-pits were the fashionable suburb resort of
invalids, from the times of William and Anne to
the close of the last century. Their ' country air,'
as it was called, seems to have been preferred, not
only to Essex, but to Kent. Garth, in his ' Dis-
pensary,' makes an apothecary say, that sooner
than a change shall take place, from making the
poor pay for medicine, to giving it them gratis,

' Alps shall sink to vales,
And leeches in our glasses turn to whales,
Alleys at Wapping furnish us new modes,
And Monmouth Street Versailles with riding hoods,
The rich to th' Hundreds in pale crowds repair,
And change the Gravel-pits for Kentish air.'




JONATHAN SWIFT



42 THE OLD COURT SUBURB

Swift had lodgings in the Gravel-pits during the
winters of 1712 and 1713 ; and Lord Chatham's sister,
Anne Pitt (as like him, says Horace Walpole, ' as two
drops of fire '), is recorded to have died at ' her house,
in Pitt Place, Kensington Gravel-pits,' in 1780. In
the pleasant little corner entitled the Mall (why so
called we know not, probably from its having been
a more open place formerly and frequented by players
of the game so called), lived and died, not long since,
the admired painter of our cold northern skies and
sea-coasts, Sir Augustus Callcott ; whose death was
followed, in the same place, by that of his wife,
previously known as Mrs Graham (an estimable
writer of travels and history). It had been pre-
ceded some years, in the same place, by that of his
brother, William Callcott, a learned and interesting
musician, celebrated for his composition of glees.
He was author of the pathetic composition, ' It
was a Friar of Orders Grey ' ; and is understood to
have been the ruin of Sir John Hawkins's ' History
of Music,' by no greater weapon than a musical pun ;
having expressed, in a catch on the subject, his pre-
ference of Burney's History ; which, by the frequent
repetition of its title, in contradistinction to that of
Sir John's, was made to say, with a horrible reitera-
tion, ' Burn his History.'

' Have you Sir John Hawkins' hist'ry ?
Some folks think it quite a myst'ry.



THE OLD COURT SUBURB 43

Music fill'd his wondrous brain ;
How d'ye like him ? Is it plain ?
Both I've read, and must agree
Burney's hist'ry pleases me.
Sir John Hawkins Sir John Hawkins,
How d'ye like him ? how d'ye like him ?
Burney's hist'ry Burney's hist'ry,
Burney's hist'ry pleases me.'

M. Fetis, the most learned of musical critics,
has well disposed of the merits of the two histories,
by showing, that neither of them was as good as
the author supposed, but that each contains matter
wanting in the other, and turnable to account.
Burney, however, besides being a musician pro-
fessed, had made himself personally acceptable in
the circles of literature and fashion, by his agree-
able manners ; whereas Hawkins, who was only an
amateur (he had been bred an attorney), was
pragmatical, niggardly, and censorious. Hawkins
was one of those men who, in a special manner,
4 take upon themselves to know ' ; and, like most
such persons, he was apt to pronounce grand final
judgments upon things of which he knew little
Hence the epitaph that was written upon him,
and that so briefly and pleasantly expresses the
knight's pompous manner, and the nothings which
he uttered :

' Here lies Sir John Hawkins,
Without his shoes and stawkings.'

Turning southwards from the Mall towards Church



44 THE OLD COURT SUBURB

Street, the visitor of Kensington lately passed
Sheffield House, which owed its name to property
possessed in this quarter by another pompous man,
who made great pretensions in his day to wit and
poetry Sheffield, Duke of Buckinghamshire (he is
often erroneously called Duke of Buckingham).
Sheffield is said to have made love to Queen
Anne when she was princess ; and he subsequently
married her illegitimate sister, Catherine Darnley,
a personage as pompous as himself.

The property, we believe, is still in the possession
of a respectable descendant of the Sheffield family ;
and a new and pretty line of houses, overlooking
Campden House Garden, has received their name.

Sheffield House has disappeared ; and on its site
(while we are writing these notices) another line of
houses is in course of erection, the backs of which
look towards Palace Gardens, and ought to have
pretty gardens of their own, if justice be done to
the picturesque, broken ground, with its trees and
bushes, that lies between the two thoroughfares.

We are now approaching the northern end of
that same Church Street, which we noticed when
passing on the south along High Street. We
glance, for a moment, up pretty little Campden
Grove, a street so called for its possession of one
side of a woody bit of ground ; and step again into
Church Street, for the purpose of noticing a gate-
way next the George Tavern inscribed, ' Newton



THE OLD COURT SUBURB



45



House.' This gateway belongs to a large old brick
house,* which stands in a curious, evading sort of
way, as if it would fain escape notice, at the back
of other houses on both sides of it ; but notice




escape it must not ; since it was the residence of
no less a man than Isaac Newton.

The great astronomer came here from London
in consequence of an attack of the lungs, from

* Afterwards called Bullingham House.



46 THE OLD COURT SUBURB

which he appears to have been rescued by a fit
of the gout. We have already mentioned some
property which he possessed in another part of
Kensington. Sir Isaac lived in this house for two
years ; then returned very ill of another disease
to London ; again returned to Newton House, and
died there in less than a month. The house is
now a boarding-school. The memory of Newton
has rendered this out-of-the-way-looking place the
most illustrious spot in Kensington ; but Newton
is in no want of record, and we must return to
the spot just mentioned, on which Sheffield House
is being displaced by a new line of buildings, in
order to notice a massy old buttressed dead wall,
which occupies the other side of the way, and which
is the garden wall of another old house possessing
an interest of a different yet peculiar sort not unsuit-
able to its appearance.

This is Campden House ; and we are here on
the eastern border of Campden Hill, which forms
a larger portion of the same elevated ground on
which Holland House is situate. Between the two
houses lies a pleasant enclosed district of some
extent, occupied by detached villas, with their
respective gardens. One of them belongs to the
Bedford family. Sir John South possesses a house
and observatory in the western portion of the hill ;
new streets, on a small but agreeable scale, are daily
rising to the north and east of this house : Campden




SIR ISAAC NEWTON



48 THE OLD COURT SUBURB

Grove, which we have just glanced at, is among
them ; and north of Campden Grove is Campden
House, which is still the most conspicuous object
in this quarter, as it has ever been since it was
first erected about 1612 by Sir Baptist Hickes, a
wealthy silk -mercer of Cheapside, founder of the
old Hickes's Hall at Clerkenwell, which the present
Sessions House superseded. Sir Baptist was one
of the money-made baronets of James the First,
who afterwards advanced him to the titles of
Lord Hickes and Viscount Campden (of Campden
in Gloucestershire). He was reported to have
'purchased or won' the house 'at some sort of
game,' from Sir Walter Cope, the lord of the
manor, and builder of Holland House. But Sir
Walter and Sir Baptist were both such prudent
persons, that we hold the story of the game to be
nought The wary old gentlemen were not likely
to have bowled away one another's houses at a
game of skittles, as Duke Sheffield or Sir John
Suckling might have done. The parishioners had
probably seen the comfortable old boys at skittles
together, and could not well understand how the
silk-mercer could have set up so fine a rival
establishment in the neighbourhood of the lord
of the manor, without some such piece of good
luck.

Viscount Campden's heiress, his only child, took
her father's titles into the family of the Noels of




ffl



THE OLD COURT SUBURB 49

Rutland, who became Earls of Gainsborough. In
1645, during the Commonwealth, the third Viscount
was obliged to compound for Campden House with
the Commissioners of Sequestration, who for a time
ousted his Lordship, and took the house for their
official residence. At the Restoration, Charles the
Second went one night to sup with him. The
Viscount's father-in-law, the third Earl of Lindsay,
famous for offering to sacrifice himself for the
salvation of Charles the First, and for having,
when young, surrendered himself prisoner at the
battle of Edgehill, in order to be able to attend
on his captured father, died in Campden House ;
a circumstance which, whatever may be thought of
his politics, gives a consecration to the place for
its association with so loving and noble a spirit.
Thirty years afterwards, the house was let to
Princess, subsequently Queen Anne, who, for the
accommodation of her household, made consider-
able addition to it on the western side, which is
now let apart from the other, and called Little
Campden House. The Princess had been residing
at Craven Hill, in the house of the old lord of that
name, for the benefit of the health of her son, the
infant Duke of Gloucester, whom she now brought
here ; and here she and her husband, George of
Denmark, divided their time with their other
mansions in anxious pursuit of that object, the
Duke being the only child that was left them out
II. D



50 THE OLD COURT SUBURB

of a numerous family, and presumptive heir to the
crown.

The history of this poor little personage is pain-
fully curious. There is a common saying, ' As happy
as a prince ' ; and if ever prince was thought happy
by those who were not in the secret of courts, this
premature victim of his birth and breeding was
probably held to be supremely so, especially by
all the little boys of England. He was heir to a
throne ; he lived apart from its troubles in the
house of his father and mother ; and, what must
have appeared a stupendous felicity in the eyes of
the little boys, he not only possessed a real, right
earnest, steel sword, instead of one made of lath
and paint, and besides that, a suit of real soldiers'
clothes absolute right earnest regimentals, all red
and gold but, amazing to think ! he was colonel
of a positive regiment of boys, all dressed in
soldiers' clothes too. He rode at the head
of them ; he sat opposite them during parade
on a live horse, his own pony ; could order
them about, and cry March! and look grand and
manly ; and all the while music would play real
proper fifes, and drums, and trumpets, not at all
' penny ' ; and he had cannon too, and castles, and
a wooden horse to put his soldiers on, when they
did wrong ; and they stood sentinels at his door-
ways, and were the terror of the neighbouring
cake-shops and apple-stalls, like any proper full*




Old



52 THE OLD COURT SUBURB

grown gentlemen soldiers. They even had field-
days on Wormwood Scrubs, and reviews in
Kensington Gardens, and King William was there
to see. In short, Campden House was Little Boy's
Paradise.

Alas ! the god of this paradise was a sickly big-
headed child, the victim of his very birth and breed-
ing, and doomed to an early death. He was the
only survivor of seventeen children, not one of
whom ought to have been born ; for Anne had
destroyed her person and constitution by gross
living a propensity derived from her mother,
Anne Hyde, perhaps from her grandfather
Clarendon ; and as the most important of all
physiologies was not studied in those days, nobody
seems to have suspected (indeed few people still
suspect) what disastrous liabilities are entailed
upon offspring by habits of this or of any other
injurious kind in parents. The poor little prince
was afflicted with water on the brain. He had a
head large enough for a grown person, with all the
sickly tendencies that accompany such a warning
symptom ; yet his dull, though anxious, and not
naturally unkind parents so little knew how to
treat him, or attended so little to the advice of
those who knew better, that after making him
weak in body and obstinate in mind with wrong
indulgences, they tried to force him into health
and good temper by severe treatment. The poor



THE OLD COURT SUBURB 53

child was flogged to make him take his medicine ;
flogged to make him walk when he needed help ;
flogged to make him go up and down stairs. At
the age of eleven he was no more.

We shall have more to say of Anne and her
husband when we come to Kensington Palace. In
the year 1704, Campden House was in the occupa-
tion of the Dowager Countess of Burlington and
her son Richard Boyle, afterwards Earl, famous for
his taste in the fine arts. The Boyles had married
into the Noel family. Not many years afterwards,
the Noels parted with the property to Nicholas
Lechmere, a Whig lawyer and politician, who was
created Lord Lechmere, and who resided here
several years. He was Chancellor of the Duchy
of Lancaster. His Lordship made some noise in
his time, but is now distinguished for nothing but
the place which he occupies in Gay's (or Swift's)
ballad entitled ' Duke upon Duke,' of which he is
the joint hero with one Sir John Guise, another
distinguished gentleman who has vanished into
nothingness. The adventure related by the ballad
itself has become equally obscure. Lechmere and
Guise, whom it styles Duke of Guise, appear to
have been a couple of cronies, as proud and fiery
as one another, though not equally valiant.
Lechmere invites Guise to a game at whist
in Campden House. Guise says he can't come,
owing to the gout. Lechmere goes in a passion



54 THE OLD COURT SUBURB

to Guise's house at Brompton, to insist on his
coming.

' The Duke in wrath call'd for his steeds,

And fiercely drove them on :
Lord ! Lord ! how rattled then thy stones,
O kingly Kensington ! '

Guise persists in not stirring, till Lechmere tweaks
his nose, and gives him a box on the ear ! Upon
this, Guise knocks Lechmere down. Lechmere chal-
lenges Guise, and the challenge is accepted ; but
when they go out to fight, the challenger contrives
to get into his carriage, and give his foe the slip :

' Back in the dark, by Brompton Park,

He turned up through the Gore ;
So slunk to Campden House so high,
All in his coach and four.'

The ballad is witty, but very coarse. Lechmere
appears to have been a kind of grim dandy.

' Firm on his front his beaver sate ;

So broad, it hid his chin;
For why? he deem'd no man his mate,
And fear'd to tan his skin.

With Spanish wool he dy'd his cheek,

With essence oil'd his hair ;
No vixen civit-cat so sweet,

Nor could so scratch and tear.

Right tall he made himself to show,

Though made full short by God ;
And when all other dukes did bow,

This Duke did only nod.'

Exeunt the two Dukes, as mysteriously as they enter.



THE OLD COURT SUBURB 55

About the middle of the last century, Campden
House became a fashionable boarding-school.
George Selwyn speaks of going there to see a
protegee of his, who was held to be a very lucky
person ; for he and his friend Lord March (the
late profligate Duke of Queensberry, 'Old Q.')
took themselves respectively for her father, and
left her a fortune apiece. She married the late
Marquess of Hertford.

Campden House, which had fallen into the hands
of a Mr Pitt (we know not whether any relation to
the Chatham family), continued to be a boarding-
school up to a considerable period of the present
century, but has now again ceased to be such ; and
though altered in some respects from its first appear-
ance, and long become two houses instead of one,
it retains an interesting look of other times. The
tenants appear to have studied its preservation. The
gentleman who lately occupied the larger portion,
which still bears the name of Campden House (Little
Campden House being the designation of the other),
went so far in his love of the antique as to build a
little old -looking brick tower in the north-eastern
corner of the garden. It abuts on the public road,
'astonishing the natives,' and startling at first sight
the antiquarian passenger, who in vain calls his re-
cords to mind in order to refresh his memory on the
subject. On coming nearer, the mystery is cleared
up by the nature of the materials and the spirit of



56 THE OLD COURT SUBURB

the composition ; and he begins to doubt whether
the building, before long, will not be something more
of a ruin than it was intended to appear. Meantime
he sees, however, that there must be some agreeable
prospect from the top window, for those who have
the courage to go up to it.

We have a liking for hobbies, and a proper Shan-
dean inclination towards persons who go out of the
ordinary way of the world to indulge in them ; and
we must own we cannot wish the tower down, now
that it is up. It reminds us, if not of impregnable
forts and enchanted castles, yet of the love of such
things in imagination ; of the books that speak of
them ; and of the intense delight we should have felt
in being able to realise such an edifice for ourselves
in childhood.

This last consideration helps the tower to some-
thing of a retrospective propriety, in relation to the
poor little Duke of Gloucester. These were his own
grounds, and this is just the thing he might have set
up in them, after reading Jack the Giant Killer, or
the seven Champions of Christendom. We imagine
him ordering his honest Welsh servant and bio-
grapher, Lewis Jenkins, to personate Jack's Welsh
giant, inside a great wicker - basket erection made
for the purpose, with a horrible bushy countenance
at the top of it ; then to go to the top of the tower
and look down and goggle and roar horribly, making
as if he would come down and eat Jack ; and, finally,



THE OLD COURT SUBURB



57



Oh ; never



to roar much worse, and shriek so that nobody ever
heard the like, and go dreadfully shuffling and stoop-
ing about, while His Royal Highness Jack cuts his
basket-work all to pieces.

JENKINS. But perhaps your Royal Highness
won't quite bear in mind where the false head
begins ; while the real one, inside the stomach, is
being frightened.

GLOUCESTER (who is a wit, laughing),
mind that, Jenkins. It
will only make it more
like right earnest, you
know ; and if I fetch
blood, you shall have a
famous Welsh rabbit
for supper.

Here his Royal High-
ness's Light Infantry
set up a laugh, which
Jenkins is obliged to
swallow, though he
longs to run at every
one of them, and kick
their souls out of their
provoking and pre-
maturely-insolent little
bodies.




CHAPTER NINETEEN

IT is to be hoped, that in the course of the local
improvements which are now being effected in this
quarter of Kensington, a road will be opened between
Campden Hill and the Palace. It would be a great
convenience to the natives, and to pedestrians of all
kinds, the topographer included ; but as there is no
such thing at present, we must content ourselves
with returning into the High Street, and so keeping
the north side of the way till it brings us to the
Palace gates. When we entered Kensington, we
kept the south side. We thus return to the point
at which our survey of the town commenced ; and
we enter on the climax of our task.*

It is not improbable that Kensington Palace and
Gardens originated in the royal nursery to which
allusion has been made as having been established
in this district, for the benefit of his children, by
King Henry the Eighth. If so, here Queen Elizabeth
grew up awhile, as well as Queen Victoria ; and here

* Since this paragraph first appeared, the road in question has been


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