LEG London arranged for a tour of Bedford Park in Chiswick led by local architect John Scott. John gave us a brief talk about the history of the area. We were shown key buildings, a variety of home architectures, the Yeats (John Butler, W B, Jack B) and John Lindley blue plaques, the ugly building that prompted the formation of the Bedford Park Society, and even a house designed by C. F. Voysey (1891) after Jonathon Carr lost control of building in Bedford Park.
Bedford Park was a model for the “Garden Suburbs”. Jonathon Carr was an early building speculator who bought 24 acres of land near Turnham Green station in 1875. His intended renters were middle-class artists who could not afford Chelsea or Kensington. The community would have its own Church (St Michael and All Angels), pub (The Tabard – now includes a small theatre), General Store (now offices) and Social Club (now the London Buddhist Vihara).
Carr used a series of architects until he settled on Richard Norman Shaw. Carr always purchased the designs and built his houses with little further input from the architects. As many trees as possible were retained which gave the development a mature look quickly. The style is difficult to describe, but has been called “Queen Anne Revival”.
Carr bought more land and Richard Norman Shaw moved on, leaving E. J. May as his successor. More detached homes on larger plots were built. Carr lost control when his company ran into financial difficulties in 1886, but building in Bedford Park continued until 1914.
Bedford Park had deteriorated to a low point in the 1960s. The Bedford Park Society formed in 1963 after developers tore down a historic home and replaced it with a concrete (the Society called it “unsympathetic”) apartment block. That will never happen again, because the Bedford Park Society has facilitated Grade II listing for 300 homes and all significant buildings.