Magazine article History Today

Beauty and Civilisation: As a Major New Exhibition on the Aesthetic Movement Opens at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Richard Cavendish Explores Bedford Park, the Garden Suburb Inspired by the Movement's Ideals and Charlotte Crow Previews the Display

Magazine article History Today

Beauty and Civilisation: As a Major New Exhibition on the Aesthetic Movement Opens at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Richard Cavendish Explores Bedford Park, the Garden Suburb Inspired by the Movement's Ideals and Charlotte Crow Previews the Display

Article excerpt

An estate agent's advertisement for Bedford Park in its early days called it 'the healthiest place in the world', with an annual death rate below six per 1,000 and houses equipped with 'the most approved Sanitary arrangements'. The man behind England's first garden suburb was a businessman called Jonathan Carr, who married Agnes Fulton, daughter of Hamilton Fulton, a well-known engineer. The Fultons lived in west London at Bedford House on what is now The Avenue, near Turnham Green station, opened in 1869, which gave commuters access to the City of London by steam train in 30 minutes. The house had been built a hundred years earlier for the family that was to give its name to the new Bedford Park estate after Carr bought it with 24 acres of land from his father-in-law in 1875.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Carr, who was 30, employed the architect E.W. Godwin to create an estate on the social and artistic principles of John Ruskin and the Aesthetic Movement. They soon parted company and in 1877 Carr replaced Godwin with Richard Norman Shaw. He lasted until 1880, but had a profound influence on Bedford Park's character and more houses were added on Shaw's lines by Maurice Adams, E.J. May and others.

The estate had a delightful abundance of trees and greenery. The houses, priced in reach of people of moderate means, were in the engaging Queen Anne Revival style popular at the time and many of the streets were named in honour of Queen Anne herself or her most famous subject, the Duke of Marlborough. The houses had no basements, apparently because the estate's enlightened creators disapproved of shutting the servants away underground and, on the same radical principles, no religious instruction was provided in the estate's first school.

It was Richard Norman Shaw who designed Bedford Park's stunning church of St Michael and All Angels in Bath Road, consecrated in 1880, with a memorial plaque to Jonathan Carr placed on the south wall after his death in 1915. Shaw also created the Tabard Inn across the road, which has tiles by William De Morgan and Walter Crane, as well as the former Bedford Park Stores next door. Maurice Adams designed the Art School, also on the Bath Road and built in 1881. Jonathan Carr was on its committee and by 1882 it had 260 students.

Bedford Park quickly attracted residents who liked its looks, its prices, its character and, as it soon turned out, each other. They drew a good deal of mockery as aesthetes, socialists and high-minded do-gooders:

   There was a village builded
   For all who are aesthete,
   Whose precious souls it fill did
   With utter joy complete. … 
Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.