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Barons Keep Hammersmith & Fulham

Barons Keep

Barons Keep, August 2010. Photo: Paula Hart

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Barons Keep is situated on the western edge of what was the Gunter Estate, the land purchased piecemeal by James Gunter from 1799 and mainly used as market gardens until it was developed for housing from the latter C19th onwards. Barons Keep was built in 1937, a U-shaped range of apartment blocks designed in ocean-liner style overlooking a private garden. The orientation of the buildings was to provide each apartment with a view over the open land on the other side of Gliddon Road, formerly St Paul's School playing fields, but now occupied by Hammersmith & Fulham West London College. The site is surrounded by a low brick wall with modern wrought-iron fencing and gates and low hedges, and a number of mature trees. At each end of the gardens are two circular beds planted with flowers and grass, linked by a rectangular grassed bed with one tree. The access roads are private and now used for car parking.
Previous / Other name:
Site location: Gliddon Road, Barons Court
Postcode: W14 9AT
Type of site: Housing/Estate Landscaping 
Date(s): 1937
Designer(s): Gunter & Gunter
Listed structures: LBII: Barons Keep apartment blocks
Borough: Hammersmith & Fulham
Site ownership: Barons Keep Ltd.
Site management: Barons Keep Ltd.
Open to public? Partially
Opening times: Garden is visible from Gliddon Road
Special conditions:
Public transport: Tube: Barons Court (Piccadilly, District)
Barons Keep, August 2010. Photo: Paula Hart
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The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/10/2010
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Fuller information:

Barons Keep is situated on the western edge of what was the Gunter Estate in the late C18th and C19th and was mainly farmland used as market gardens. The north portion ran from Old Brompton Road up to Cromwell Road, and from Gloucester Road in the east to Earls Court Road and beyond in the west, and the south portion running from Old Brompton Road down to Fulham Road, and from The Boltons in the east to Brompton Cemetery in the west. Much of the land was used for nurseries, particularly for growing roses. In the C17th the Arnold family owned and farmed all the land north of Old Brompton Road. In 1656 the estate passed by marriage to the Greene family, who owned a brewery in Westminster, and it remained in their ownership until 1793 when they sold most of the land to a local surgeon, John Hunter, who died after only a few months. James Gunter I, founder of the Gunter property empire, ran a cake shop in Berkeley Square. He bought land piecemeal so he could run a market gardening business and in 1799 he bought the freehold from John Hunter's executors.

Earl’s Court Lodge became the Gunter's family home for some 60 years, and was nicknamed by the aristocratic family that lived in Earl’s Court House nearby, as Currant-Jelly Hall. Up to the mid 1800s Fulham’s main business was to supply London with vegetables, Thomas Faulkner describing it as 'the greatest fruit and kitchen garden north of the Thames'. As land for building became increasingly scarce in Kensington and Chelsea in the second half of the C19th, developers (in particular Gibbs & Flew) looked further west to Fulham, where prices were lower. Also, from 1850-1910 housing was being built for workers (particularly Irish), who were employed in the industries along the river. In 1851 the population of Fulham was 11,886, in 1891 91,640 and in 1901 137,289.

Most of the rest of the Gunter's north estate consisting of the 7.5 unnamed acres west, which had been retained by the Greene family, was acquired by James Gunter II in 1857. Property development on the lands was started by James Gunter, with road names reflecting his Welsh origins. His grandson Robert undertook further developments, using Yorkshire names reflecting his wife’s origins. In 1874 the Metropolitan District Railway (MDR, now the District Line) ran tracks through the area, which was still open fields and market gardens, but there was no call for a station. By the beginning of the C20th the area had been developed for housing and in October 1905 the District Railway opened the station, Barons Court, to serve the new developments and to prepare for the opening of the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway (GNP&BR, now the Piccadilly line).

The area where Barons Keep is situated has been known variously over the centuries as North End, West Kensington, Barons Court Nomansland. The current 'ocean liner style' apartment buildings, designed in a U-shape with gardens in the centre, were built in 1937, and designed by architects Gunter & Gunter. A main feature of the buildings is that metal framed windows were used, and which are now considered to be of architectural importance, leading a Grade II listing. In 1947 an annual rental for a 2-bedroom ground floor apartment was around £209; in 2010 the annual rental is around £25,000. In the 1950s the Talgarth Mansions on the north side of Talgarth Road were demolished to improve the road as part of the West Cromwell Road extension.

The orientation of the buildings was to provide each apartment with a view over the open land, St Paul's School playing fields, on the other side of Gliddon Road (to the west) but now occupied by a building for the Hammersmith & Fulham West London College. This was a highly controversial development. In 1964 the London County Council (LCC) acquired the land from St Paul's School, which moved to Barnes, and in 1971 the Greater London Council (GLC) published a scheme to build a college and housing on the site, and granted itself outline planning permission. A protest group, West Kensington Environment Campaign, actively opposed development of the site, and the case went to the High Court. Eventually in 1976 the decision was made to give the go-ahead to the development.

The gardens are in an oval shape, with private access through iron gates from Gliddon Road. The Barons Keep U-shape private roadway surrounding the gardens is used by residents for parking. At each end of the gardens is a circular bed with grass and flowerbeds, with a rectangular grassed bed between the two, and featuring one tree. The site was originally enclosed by a low stone wall and low hedge but today there are also wrought iron railings. The layout of the gardens has changed little, except for the circular bed to the east, which has been reduced in size to provide more parking spaces. The Gunter Family’s links with their estate ended in 2002 when the estate was sold to an investment group.

Sources consulted:

Barretts Solicitors, History of the Gunter Estate, 2010; T Faulkner, 'History of Fulham', 1813; Charles J Feret, 'Fulham Old and New', Vol 3, 1900; L Hasker, 'The Place which is called Fulanham', 1981; Hermione Hobhouse, 'British History Online Survey of London', Vol 42, English Heritage, 1986; G E Mitton and J C Geikie, 'The Fascination of London - Hammersmith, Fulham & Putney', London, Adam & Charles Black, 1903; Nikolaus Pevsner & Bridget Cherry, 'The Buildings of England, London 3: North West', (Penguin, 1999 ed); Dominic Prince, ’Who really owns London’, Evening Standard, 2001; Steve Roberts, 'London W14 guidebook, 2010; FHW Sheppard, 'British History Online Survey of London', Vol 41, English Heritage, 1986; P D Whitting, 'A History of Fulham to 1965', 1970.

LPGT Volunteer Research by Paula Hart, 2010.
Grid ref: TQ241784
Size in hectares:
On EH National Register : No
EH grade :
Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:
Registered common or village green
on Commons Registration Act 1965:
Protected under London Squares
Preservation Act 1931:
The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
On Local List:
In Conservation Area: Yes
Conservation Area name: Gunter Estate
Tree Preservation Order: Yes - see note below
Nature Conservation Area: No
Green Belt: No
Metropolitan Open Land: No
Special Policy Area: No
Other LA designation: TPO 23/7/0 Ailonthus

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