|Bedford Park Estate||Hounslow|
Bedford Park is described as the first Garden Suburb, the early speculatively-built estate becoming a model and showpiece, successful in attracting the 'aesthetic middle classes' and artists. In 1875 Jonathan Carr purchased 24 acres north of Turnham Green, taking the name for his estate from a late C18th house. First plans were drawn up by E W Godwin, but in 1877 Norman Shaw became estate architect and was responsible for creating the architectural character of the suburb. Wherever possible existing trees were kept and the garden character was enhanced by many roads being closed by views of trees. From 1880, Shaw no longer involved, a third phase of building began on additional land acquired by Carr. By 1883 there were 490 houses on 113 acres, the church of St Michael and All Angels, the Tabard Inn, a School of Art and a Club. In 1963 the Bedford Park Society was formed to preserve the estate, which was designated a Conservation Area in 1969.
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Bedford Park Estate spans two boroughs, Hounslow and Ealing. In 1875 cloth merchant and property developer Jonathan T Carr (1845-1915) purchased 24 acres north of Turnham Green to build his Bedford Park Estate, which became the 'best known later Victorian suburb in outer London' and the 'first example of adopting the relaxed informal mood of a market town/village for a speculatively built suburb' (Pevsner). The name was taken from Bedford House, a late C18th house in the area. First plans were drawn up by the architect and proponent of the Aesthetic Movement Edward William Godwin and by the firm of Coe and Robinson and the first few houses on The Avenue were built in 1876 to Godwin's design. However, Godwin parted company with Carr and Norman Shaw was appointed estate architect in 1877. Shaw created the architectural character of the suburb and his 5 prototype designs for detached or semi-detached 'Queen Anne' style houses were illustrated in Building News in 1877 and 1878.
The suburb was built over land where there were orchards and an arboretum and the combination of the rural and the urban underpinned the estate. Wherever possible existing trees were kept, sometimes houses positioned to enable mature trees to remain, and the estate's garden character was enhanced by many of the roads being closed by views of trees. Plans of the estate show new avenues of new trees in addition to mature specimens, which included horse chestnut, plane and elm. Bedford Park had a Natural History and Gardening Society, which met in the clubhouse in The Avenue, its aim 'to revive active interest in the cultivation of simple and old fashioned flowers' and gardening was evidently popular, no doubt influenced by the ideas of William Morris and others of the Arts and Crafts movement.
Shaw resigned in 1880 although he acted as consultant until 1886, and Edward J May, his pupil and protégé, was appointed as estate architect with Maurice B Adams and William Wilson also providing designs. 1880-86 represented the third phase of the suburb, with the core completed. Carr had purchased additional land and refinanced his enterprise as the Bedford Park Company Ltd in 1881. Carr was then planning to develop an extension to the west, designed by May, but in 1886 the company failed.
Later building took place up to 1914, but no longer in Carr's control although there were some notable buildings, such as 14 South Parade by C F A Voysey (1889-91) and much later, 2 South Parade by Ruheman and Dugdale (1938-9).
The suburb had soon became a fashionable showpiece; it was visited by the Architectural Association in 1877 and praised by William Morris in 1880 for its 'quaint and pretty architecture and its preservation of trees'. In 1997 it is still regarded as 'the best-known symbol both of the aesthetic movement and of the 'Queen Anne' style' (Girouard (1997). By 1883 the estate consisted of 490 houses on 113 acres, and included the church of St Michael and All Angels, the Tabard Inn, a School of Art and a Club. Artists and the 'aesthetic middle classes' were encouraged and attracted to live there, with a number of studios built. Among its artistic residents were poet W. B. Yeats, actor William Terriss, actress Florence Farr, playwright Arthur Wing Pinero and painter Camille Pissarro. Bedford Park featured in novels by G. K. Chesterton (Saffron Park in 'The Man who was Thursday') and John Buchan (Biggleswick in 'Mr. Standfast'). Carr's own house, Tower House, which was designed by Shaw in 1878 with spacious grounds, has now been replaced by flats.
In 1963 the Bedford Park Society was formed to preserve the estate, which led to 356 houses, those built in the first phases of development, being listed when it was designated a Conservation Area in 1969; this area was extended in 1994.
Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 3: North West' (Penguin, 1999 ed); LB Ealing Conservation Area Bedford Park appraisal leaflet (April 1999); John Scott, Bedford Park - The First Garden Suburb?, paper presented at the Autumn Conference of London Historic Parks and Gardens Trust, 'London's Garden Suburbs, Community Landscape and the Urban Ideal', 4 and 5 October 2000. See Bedford Park Society website, www.bedfordpark.org.uk', Gardens & Trees in Bedford Park' guidance note published by the Society in 2008.