The house the FVIP (Famous, Very Important Person) lived in is in Kensington.*
It’s a sweet little gem of a Victorian house in a picture-postcard setting – you’d think you were in “Cottage Row” in village Wiltshire.
It’s a seven room house. In 1881 there were 15 people living in that seven-room house. Three families and three lodgers.
Let’s head back to 1881. To meet the Richardson family. John Richardson, the Head of the household, is a “Cow Dealer’s Manager.” He and his wife Francis have a 15-year-old daughter, a 13-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter. They also have a lodger, Alfred Wilmore, a corn chandler’s assistant.
Now step this way to meet the Jones family. John’s a Draper’s Assistant. He and his wife Louisa have a four-year-old son, Hugh.
Finally, the Claydons. George is a 27-year-old shopman. He and his wife have a young family. Two toddlers – a three-year-old son and a year-old son.
They also have two lodgers: Thomas Tilley, a 45-year-old shopman and Thomas Tilley, a 20-year-old clerk.
Thirty years later it’s not quite so crowded. Only eight people, plus an overnight visitor that night (April 2, 1911) – Eleanor Althea Bacon, a 27-year-old dressmaker from Norfolk, a family friend of Susannah Langley. Susannah’s the wife of the Head of the Household, Henry Langley, a Grocer’s Manager. He and Susannah have two children, an 11-year-old daughter and a nine-year-old daughter. They also have two lodgers. The show-stoppingly named George Sly Stutter, a 52-year-old bank messenger. And 28-year-old Gertrude Colman, a shop assistant. Finally, there’s 42-year-old Elizabeth Kyles, the cook. Yes, the Langleys have a cook.
You pick your year under that roof – 1881 or 1911 – it’s a lot of people for a seven-room-house. Where’d they all sleep? What about bathroom arrangements? Either deck of cards, whichever way you deal them, they’re awkward. Toddlers are a handful. Pre-teens are a handful. A female lodge and a male lodger. You got a 17-20 room house – like the ones on nearby Queensgate Terrace (which I recently blogged here on the DC) – no problem. But a seven-room house?
I don’t think it’s far-fetched to suggest that life in a barrio in Brazil today – or in a shantytown in Joburg – might well be preferable to life under that particular roof in Kensington a century and change ago. For starters, you’d take the weather.
Anything else? What do you think?
The house is worth over £3,000,000 today.
Five years ago it was worth £2,000,000.
Welcome to London, pilgrims.
*Yes, this is a bit of London Walks Freemium. The difference is the Freemium feature – i.e., holding back the Premium feature – isn’t aimed at you, dear DC reader, it’s in place because of the knock-offs in our line of work. We’ve had it with them helping themselves to our research. In this case that means the FVIP is the mystery guest on this post. He’s not going to be named here. And neither is the street. The knock-offs can do their own digging.
Full disclosure – of course – about the FVIP on the walk. When we’re standing in front of the house.
Meet David on The Old Kensington tour Thursdays 2pm High Street Kensington tube.
Here's a video of David in action…