TURNHAM GREEN (District Line, Piccadilly line)
a walk from LONDON TUBE RAMBLES
for those interested in architectural history.
Bedford Park is considered the forerunner of garden cities/suburbs, being developed by land speculator Jonathan Carr to provide dwellings for middle class people with artistic leanings. It has its origins in the Arts & Crafts/Aesthetic Movement of the 1870’s which drew on the ideals of Victorians such as John Ruskin and William Morris who felt that increased mechanization and housing without aesthetic merit was destroying artistic ideals and encouraging greed and ostentation. The streets reflect the haphazard layout of a country town. Unusually tall chimneys and white-painted windows with small panes are recurring features inspired by home counties vernacular architecture of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, including Dutch elements such as curved gables. The buildings are a mix of terraces and semi-detached houses with here and there a few large detached dwellings. For further details and complete history go to the Bedford Park Society website. The estate is reached by turning right from the Tube station.
The Tabard Inn (Norman Shaw, 1879-80) is a few minutes away – turn right down Bath Road. Here you will find many original features, such as the tiles by William de Morgan that grace the bar. There is also a small fireplace with tiles by Walter Crane. Part of the pub is now a tiny theatre, reached by external stairs.
Opposite is St. Michael’s church, built at the same time. It has recently been renovated and is now open during the day, the pews and other woodwork having been re-painted in the original mid-green specified by Shaw. A spectacular sight. The following route takes in most of the architectural styles to be found on the estate: Walk past the West end of the Church, having a look at the splendid ironwork on the 1887 Parish Hall extension (Maurice Adams) and turn right into Priory Avenue, then right again into Priory Gardens. Here you will see the white railings, mellow brickwork and gables that are to be found throughout the estate. At the end turn left into Bath Road, then left up Rupert Road which leads to The Avenue (main road). On the way you will see other distinctive architectural features such as the tall chimneys, walls with hung tiles and great quantities of white-framed windows in all shapes and sizes. Turn right at The Avenue (Nos. 20-22 have cheerful sunflower terracotta reliefs) and pause at Blenheim Road. On the corner is a large house with hung tiles.
Cross over Blenheim Road to have a look at the superb studio window, dated 1879, in the north-facing side wall. A few steps further on is ‘First House’ with a charming open-work wooden porch. Return to The Avenue and cross over to get to Marlborough Crescent. Here you can see only too well where hand-made hanging tiles have been replaced with inferior mass-produced ones. No. 37 still has the glowing originals. Follow the crescent to the left. More gables and a few large detached houses, though there is generally a more ‘cottagey’ feel to this area. When you reach Bedford Road turn left.
Ahead and to the right you will see a Penfold pillar box. Walk towards this and then cross over and go down The Orchard. At the end, on the right, you will see Bedford Park Mansions (1892). This large block of flats, out of scale with the rest of the estate, was part of the development that occurred after 1886 when the company formed by Jonathan Carr collapsed and the remaining land had to be sold off. On reaching South Parade, turn right to find the Voysey house at No. 14. This plain rough-cast house was built in 1891, its simplicity enhanced by the delicacy of the brackets holding up the eaves. The whole of the top floor was designed as an artist’s studio. The lower wing was added by Voysey in 1894. Not to be missed by anyone interested in architecture of any period. Return to go back to the station On the way you will pass the late Georgian Marlborough House with a small intricate wrought iron gate. Next comes the oddly designed shopping parade – the gables motif has been over-elaborated here.
Before you cross The Avenue to get back to the Tube, go left to see the building that gave the estate its name – Bedford House (1793). Now it is squashed in behind the shopping parade, having lost most of its grounds when the estate was constructed. Next door is what was originally the social club for the estate – now it is the London Bhuddist Vihara.
The stations on either side of Turnham Green (Chiswick Park and Stamford Brook) also have interesting trails.
Photos (left to right, from top)
1)de Morgan tiles in entrance of Tabard Inn
3)Walter Crane fireplace, Tabard Inn
4)St. Michael's church
5) Parish Hall
6/7)1879 window/ 'First House'
8/9)Penfold pillar box,14 South Parade
Turnham Green is just one walk from the many to be found at London Tube Rambles. There are architectural gems, beautiful country views, historic places and quirky buildings to be found in the area covered by the Greater London Underground stations. Usually the discoveries are within a mile of the Tube - often only five minutes walk away. If you reached this as an individual page via a search engine, you might like to click on the link above and see the other destinations explored. You'll be amazed at what's out there!