The Lancaster Gate estate was built in the mid C19th on land that was previously farmland. A popular Tea Gardens existed nearby from 1795, closing in 1854 when the area was developed for housing. The garden square had houses on three sides, with Christ Church on the fourth side, The church was demolished in 1977 apart from its tower and spire, which are now within private housing that overlooks the garden. Between the garden and Bayswater Road is a hard-landscaped public open space with two fine monuments, the Christ Church War Memorial and the Meath Memorial.
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Lancaster Gate was developed from 1856-57 as part of the speculative development by Henry de Bruno Austin on land that had been mainly farmland prior to this. The name Lancaster Gate is taken from the nearby north gate to Kensington Gardens (q.v.), named after Queen Victoria, who was Duchess of Lancaster. Bayswater Road was an old Roman road, called the Via Trinobantia, and in the C18th the physic garden of botanist and playwright John Hill was located nearby. From 1795 the Bayswater Tea Gardens, later renamed the Flora Tea Gardens and then Victoria Tea Gardens, were a popular resort on a site to the east until they closed in 1854 as the area was developed. The fine stuccoed terraces south of Lancaster Gate were designed by architect Sancton Wood, and those to the north by John Johnson. The garden square now has views southwards to Bayswater Road and the park, where Lancaster Walk is aligned with the square, but originally the central garden was surrounded by roads on three sides, and on the fourth side by Christ Church, a Gothic church built in 1854-55 to the designs of F & H Francis Architects, with the tower and spire added in 1863. From 1879-84 its vicar was William Boyd Carpenter who became Bishop of Ripon.
The church survived WWII but closed and was demolished in 1977 due to fungal decay and only its spire and tower survive. In 1983 it became housing, incorporated into Spire House designed by Covell Matthews Partnership. The original central garden enclosure was reserved for the private use of residents of a number of the surrounding houses. By 1928 the garden was owned by Major W E Chapman and Judge E H Chapman, who were responsible for its maintenance. It was laid out as a lawn with shrubberies in the centre and around the perimeter. It remains a private garden today, largely grassed, with perimeter path and fine trees and shrubs to the boundaries.
Between the garden and Bayswater Road, the intervening area was re-designed by WCC in 2002 through its Lancaster Gate street improvement scheme, and it is now a hard landscaped oval area with a contemporary semi-circular bench at the heart of the space with two fine monuments. In the north is the Christ Church War Memorial, which was originally on the footpath outside the church. Designed by Sir Walter Tapper RA and sculpted by Lawrence A Turner, the memorial was unveiled by the Bishop of Kensington on 27 March 1921 and commemorates residents of the Metropolitan Borough of Paddington who died in WWI. The monument suffered damage during the storms of October 1987 and it was later moved to the present location and restored as part of the street improvements scheme, and unveiled on 11 November 2002. Sited at the junction of Bayswater Road is the Meath Memorial, which was unveiled in 1934 and commemorates Reginald Brabazon, 12th Earl of Meath (1841-1929). He was involved in much philanthropic work and was first Chairman of the LCC Parks Committee and the MPGA. The monument was designed by Hermon Cawthra RA and has a portrait medallion and a figure of a seated boy.
Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 3: North West', (Penguin, 1999 ed); Report of the Royal Commission on London Squares, 1928; WCC information plaques within hard-landscaped area.