The conservation and amenity association of the ladbroke area of

the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea








    St John’s Gardens consists of most of the horseshoe-shaped road that runs round St John’s church, together with the road that runs down from the church to Clarendon Road. The latter was originally known as St John’s Road, although by 1923 it had become St John’s Gardens. The road is bordered almost entirely by the railings of the neighbouring communal gardens or the sides of the back gardens in neighbouring streets. There are only two houses with an address in St John’s Gardens, both in the semi-circular section facing the back of the church.


   The straight part of the street has good vistas at both ends, looking up towards St John’s Church and down towards houses in Clarendon Road.


St John’s Gardens looking down towards Clarendon Road


 St John's Gardens looking up towards the church


   Nos. 1 and 2 St John’s Gardens form part of a trio with No. 44 Lansdowne Crescent.  Indeed, until a renumbering in 1925, all three houses were considered to be in St John’s Gardens and No. 44 was known as No. 3 St John’s Gardens. All three were built by William Reynolds, a builder turned developer to whom James Weller Ladbroke (the freeholder) and Richard Roy (the developer) gave a lease in 1846 at a ground rent of £5 for each house (deed 4884 in Kensington Public Library). They are handsome half stucco houses, as well decorated on their rear elevations (also half stucco) as on the front. They are very similar to the houses built by Reynolds around the same time at 15-27 odds Lansdowne Road.



Nos. 1 and 2 St John’s Gardens



    No. 1 presents as a double-fronted house. The left-hand wing has been altered considerable – the 1863 map (see below) shows that it was then flush with the front of the house rather than set back.The porch of No. 1 has also been altered several times over the years. It may originally have been similar to that on No. 2, but by 1861 had acquired an enclosed porch that was subsequently extended. The result was a porch enclosed with glass, the door to one side and two flights of steps – see drawing below.  There is a similar porch at 17 Lansdowne Road and it is rather sad that this bit of high Victoriana has been lost. The old porch can be seen in a photograph in the London Metropolitan Archives, as can the doors to a garage under the house to the left of the porch (other drawings and images are in planning case No. 1419 of 1915 and No. 1642 of 1923 in the Kensington Public Library). The present porch was built in the 1970s and is probably closer to the original, although it is unlikely that the latter had bottle balustrades down in steps.


 The glass porch on No. 1 - drawing from old planning document

Courtesy RBKC.



   The then owner of No. 1, Mrs Vane Sutton Vane, converted the house into four flats after the Second World War, together with a fifth flat for her own use. In 1962 her son received planning permission for three pre-fabricated garages in the back garden. In 1971, consent was granted for the three upper floors to be converted back to a single dwelling, with two self-contained flats in the basement.


    No. 2 has had changes to its fenestration and the stucco semi-circular projection behind is a 20th century add-on. It was from 1921 to 1948 the home of a prolific painter called Frank Emanuel (1865-1948) who was best known for his strong opposition to all forms of modern art. In Who’s Who, he listed among his recreations the exposure of dealers, artists and critics who supported what he called the “modern art swindle”. His works are in a number of national collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum.

 Plan of the houses in 1863


    These houses have mainly bottle balustrades along their street boundaries. It is unusual (although not unknown) for half-stucco houses of that period to have such balustrades – railings would be more normal – and it is possible that there were originally railings.


Listings and designations


Neither of the houses in St John’s Gardens is listed, but both are subject to Article 4 Directions in respect of:

  • alterations of front windows or doors (1996)
  • the erection, alteration or demolition of gates, fences and walls facing the highway (1998).


The vista up towards the church is also listed as a “significant vista” in the old Conservation Arear Proposals Statement (CAPS).


The garden to the side of No. 1 and the sides of the communal gardens along St John’s Gardens are shown as “important townscape gaps” on the Gaps map in the Ladbroke Conservation Area Appraisal (CAA).


Recommendations for planners and householders


The two houses in St John’s Gardens are in a good state. They have been added to or altered over the years, with some extensions that are less than happy. But this has not yet seriously compromised their architectural significance. It will be important, however, to avoid further significant add-ons if their character is to continue to be preserved.


Last updated 30.10.16