Lisson Grove is a district and a street of the City of Westminster, London, just to the north of the Inner Ring Road. The area is predominantly residential, with a very high population density and extensive social housing, and is less affluent than Westminster as a whole. The Church Street ward covers roughly the same area.
For a history of the etymology behind the district's street names see Street names of Lisson Grove
Lisson Green is described as a hamlet in the Domesday book in 1086, the edges of the settlement defined by the two current Edgware Road stations facing onto Edgware Road or Watling Street as it was previously known, one of the main Roman thoroughfares in and out of London. Occasionally referred to as Lissom Grove, originally Lisson Grove was part of the medieval manor of Lilestone which stretched as far as Hampstead. Lisson Green as a manor broke away c. 1236 with its own manor house.
Until the late 18th century the district remained essentially rural. It developed into a slum in Victorian London, notorious for drinking, crime and prostitution, as well as the extreme poverty of the people and the squalor and dilapidation of the homes they lived in. The arrival of the Regent's Canal in 1810 and the railway at Marylebone in 1899 led to rapid urbanisation of Lisson Grove.
Following World War One, Prime Minister David Lloyd George announced a policy of "Homes Fit for Heroes", leading to a housing boom from which Lisson Grove was to benefit. In 1924, St Marylebone Borough Council completed the Fisherton Street Estate of seven apartment blocks in red-brick neo-Georgian style with high mansard roofs grouped around two courtyards. Noted for their innovation as some of the first social housing to include an indoor bathroom and toilet, in 1990 the estate was defined as a conservation area The blocks were named mostly for the notable former residents of Lisson Grove and its surrounding areas, which drew Victorian landscape painters, sculptors, portraitists and architects:
- Lilestone: Named in reference to the medieval manor stretching to Hampstead before Lisson Grove became a separate manor in the 13th century
- Huxley: Thomas Henry Huxley the self-taught biologist and ardent Charles Darwin supporter was resident at 41 North Bank during the 1850s.
- Gibbons: Grinling Gibbons (1648–1721) a master carver who worked on St Pauls
- Landseer: Sir Edwin Landseer (famous for sculpting the lions in Trafalgar Square)
- Frith: For sculptor William Silver Frith (1850–1924)
- Orchardson: For painter Sir William Quiller Orchardson (1832–1910)
- Dicksee: For Sir Francis Dicksee, a noted Victorian painter
- Eastlake: For Charles Eastlake (1836–1906) British architect and furniture designer
- Tadema: For Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
- Poynter: For Sir Edward Poynter (1836–1919)
- Stanfield: George Clarkson Stanfield and his son, both artists.
- Frampton: George Frampton the sculptor had lived nearby at Carlton Hill from 1910 and may have given his name to Frampton Street and Frampton House
- Wyatt: Matthew Cote Wyatt who lived at Dudley Grove House, Paddington
Following the Second World War, further social housing was completed at the Church Street Estate (1949) and the more extensive Lisson Green Estate (1975). In 1960 a new Labour Exchange was established on Lisson Grove to much fanfare, and later featured in punk music history as the place where members of The Clash first met. The area also became known for its antiques trade.
In the 2010s, Westminster City Council have proposed extensive regeneration of the area.
Notable former residents
- Charles Rossi sculptor at 21, Lisson Grove, 1810
- Leigh Hunt, resided at 13, Lisson Grove North on his release from Horsemonger Prison in 1815 and was visited on many occasions by Lord Byron here
- Benjamin Haydon, painter at 21 Lisson Grove, 1817, tutor of Edwin Landseer and his brother
- Sir Edwin Landseer (1802–1873) and various members of his family congregated to live at Cunningham Place. From 1825 he first lived at 1, St John's Wood Road on the corner of Lisson Grove in a small cottage on the site of Punker's Barn. This was later demolished in 1844 to make place for a small but "rather aristocratic" house (built by Thomas Cubitt, who also built Osborne House on the Isle of Wight for Queen Victoria). The Cubitt designed house was later demolished in 1894 to make way for artisan workers homes built by the railway arranged as Wharncliffe Gardens.
- Henry Willams Banks Davis lived at 10a Cunningham Place, a property adjacent to Landseer's studios, which Davis moved into
- George Augustus Henry Sala, journalist, born in 1828, recalls growing up in Lisson Grove during the 1830s "when the principle public buildings were pawnbrokers, and 'leaving shops', low public houses and beershops and cheap undertakers."
- Catherine Sophia Blake William Blake's widow lived from 1828–1830, at 20 Lisson Grove North, London (renumbered 112 Lisson Grove, London NW1) as housekeeper to Frederick Tatham. (Original building demolished.)
- Samuel Palmer, landscape painter and etcher lived at 4, Street, Lisson Grove, Marylebone
- Mary Shelley moved to North Bank, 28 March 1836 for one year with her son
- Thomas Henry Huxley: Resident at North Bank during the 1850s
- James Augustus St John moved in 1858 from North Bank to Grove End Road
- Dr Southwood Smith moved to Lisson Grove in 1859 to work at the London Fever Hospital. Smith's granddaughter Octavia Hill, who he brought up, was later to live at 190, Marylebone Road becoming a founder of the Peabody Trust and have a great impact on the social housing movement evident in Lisson Grove from the 1890s onwards.
- Blue Plaque: Emily Davies, founder of Girton College, Cambridge lived at 17, Cunningham Place from 1863 to 1875 with her mother.
- George Eliot and her husband bought The Priory, 21 North Bank in 1863 and held many of her Sunday receptions during the 17 years she spent there until 1880.
- William Henry Giles Kingston born in London, 1814 at Harley Street, lived at No. 6, North Bank
- Jerome K. Jerome attended The Philological School, now Abercorn School on the corner of Lisson Grove and Marylebone Road during the early 1870s.
- Arthur Machen at Edward House, 7 Lisson Grove during World War One until the 1920s.
- A newly married 28-year-old Agatha Christie rented 5, Northwick Terrace during 1918–1919
- Blue Plaque: Guy Gibson V.C, leader of the Dambusters raid lived at 32, Aberdeen Place between 1918–1944.
Arts and antiques
The area has a long association with art, artists and theatre. In 1810 the Royal Academy catalogues give sculptor Charles Rossi's address as 21 Lisson Grove, where he had bought a large house. By 1817, Rossi was renting out a section of the house to painter Benjamin Haydon. A blue plaque on the corner of Rossmore Road and Lisson Grove marks the spot and in 2000 author Penelope Hughes-Hallett wrote The Immortal Dinner with the focus on Haydon's dining companions invited to his Lisson Grove abode on 28 December 1817. Haydon's protégé Edwin Landseer lived north on Lisson Grove on the corner of St John's Wood Road from 1825.
The arrival of Dutch painter Lawrence Alma-Tadema at nearby 44, Grove End Road in the late 1870s inspired the naming of one of the Lilestone Estate apartment blocks built in the 1920s as Tadema House. Eastlake House, situated opposite Tadema House, is possibly named for Charles Eastlake whose Eastlake Movement's underlying ethos of simple decorative devices that were affordable and easy to keep clean would have been of interest to those developing social housing in the 20th Century.
On Bell Street, the Lisson Gallery, established in 1967 by Nicholas Logsdail, championed the new British sculptors of the 1980s and continues to show new and established artists, with expanded premises further along Bell Street. Mark Jason Gallery at No 1 Bell Street specialises in promoting contemporary British and international artists. At No 17, Bell Street Vintage Wireless London has existed since 1979, selling a wide assortment of vintage turntables, radiograms, wirelesses, dansettes, reel-to-reels, amps and mikes.
In 2006 the Subway Gallery arrived in the Joe Strummer Subway which runs under the Marylebone Road. Conceived by artist Robert Gordon McHarg III, the space itself is a 1960s kiosk with glass walls which creates a unique showcase for art, interacting naturally with passers by, visitors and the local community.
The Show Room is on Penfold Street, next to the main Aeroworks factory. The Show Room is a non-profit space for contemporary art that is focused on a collaborative and process-driven approach to production, be that artwork, exhibitions, discussions, publications, knowledge and relationships.
Church Street runs parallel to St John's Wood Road and plays host to a varied market Mondays–Saturdays, 8am–6pm selling fruit and vegetables, clothes, and bags amongst other items. Towards the Lisson Grove end of Church Street is Alfie's Antique Market, London's largest indoor market for antiques, collectables, vintage, and 20th century design is in the former Jordans Department Store, decorated with an Egyptian art deco theme similar to the Aeroworks – the indoor market, "houses more than 200 permanent stall holders and covers in excess of 35,000 sq ft of shop space on five floors." Opened in 1976 by Bennie Gray, in the then derelict department store, the Antiques Market has since spawned twenty or so individual shops at the Lisson Grove end of Church Street specialising in mainly 20th-century art and collectables
Theatres and music halls
The Metropolitan Music Hall, re-launched with great refurbishment and extended capacity in 1867, was situated at 267, Edgware Road, opposite Edgware Road (Bakerloo) tube station entrance/exit and Bell Street. Paddington Green police station is now situated on this spot, having moved to make way for the Marylebone flyover.
Currently Lisson Grove has two theatres.
The Cockpit Theatre on Gateforth Street is a purpose built fringe theatre venue promoting "Theatre of Ideas and ensemble working. Its regular classes and workshops, comfortable bar and friendly team enable this creative hub to support performers, the industry, diverse audiences, the local community and free radicals alike."
The Schmidt hammer lassen-designed City of Westminster College at 25 Paddington Green contains the Siddons Theatre, named for the much acclaimed 18th century tragedienne Sarah Siddons, buried at St Mary on Paddington Green.
- Grade II Listed Victorian 1897 public house Crocker's Folly
- Fisherton Estate Conservation Area
- In 1983, Jeremy Dixon (later of Dixon Jones' fame with fellow architect Edward Jones) designed a series of terrace houses on Ashmill Street.
- Between Hatton Street and Penfold Street the old Spitfire Palmers Aeroworks Factory in operation from 1912 – 1984 manufacturing aircraft components including stand outs as a white Egyptian Art Deco landmark, the elevation facing onto Penfold Street having formerly been a furniture store. This was redeveloped by Terry Farrell in 1985-8 and includes their architectural practice. Next to the Aeroworks, another of the lower buildings now houses The Show Room.
Places of worship
Christ Church, Cosway Street, designed by Thomas Hardwick in 1822–24 and closed in 1973, now used as a leisure facility.
Parks and playgrounds
- Broadley Street Gardens
- Fisherton Street Estate Playground
There a number of nurseries in Lisson Grove, two run by London Early Years Foundation (LEYF) at Luton Street and Lisson Green.
Primary schools are St. Edward's Catholic Primary School, Gateway Academy on Gateforth Street and King Solomon Primary.
King Solomon Academy, an Ark school, was recently established on the site of the former Rutherford School for Boys. The main building of the secondary school is Grade II* listed, designed by Leonard Manasseh and Ian Baker in 1957 and completed in 1960. Mannaseh's style has been described as displaying a digested influence of Le Corbusier with traits including "crispness", glazed or tiled pyramids (see the inverted pyramid on the roof of the school and the Egyptian sculpture garden), window walls with fine black mullions, "assertive" gables, and Baker's bold geometrical masonry forms, and grand symmetry and rhythms. The interior lobby is lined in Carrara marble, with corridors lined with Ruabon tiles. When asked "Why the marble, Mr Manasseh?" he was reported as saying "Because it's boy-proof."
- The Brazen Head (now flats)
Not a particularly popular name for a public house, this was named for the magical artefact, a speaking brass head, 13th century Friar Roger Bacon created, and the subject of legend circulating in the 16th century. The most famous Brazen Head features in James Joyce's Ulysses.
- The Green Man (corner of Bell Street and Edgware Road, W2)
The legend is that the pub is named for a herbalist had lived on the site of the pub, due to the nearby spring which had curative properties. Noted for the eye lotion produced from the spring water, all subsequent leaseholders were obliged to sign a clause requiring them to offer the eye lotion for free on request, in his memory.
As recently as 1954 Stanley Coleman wrote in his 'Treasury of Folklore: London' "that you may ask [at the bar] for eye lotion and the publican will measure you out an ounce or two" though it no longer came from the well in the cellar which had dried up when Edgware Road Tube station had been built on the site.
- The Constitution (now The Bell House)
- The Lord High Admiral
- The Richmond Arms
- The Perseverance
- The Globe
The nearest London Underground stations are Baker Street, Edgware Road (Bakerloo line), Edgware Road (Circle, District and Hammersmith & City lines), Paddington station, Warwick Avenue and Marylebone.
Bus routes serving the road Lisson Grove are 139 (West Hampstead to Waterloo via Trafalgar Square), 189 (Brent Cross to Oxford Street).
Edgware Road bus stops for Lisson Grove are served by bus routes 16, 6, 98, 414.
In Pygmalion, the leading character Eliza Doolittle was partly inspired by a child prostitution scandal in Lisson Grove and the West End, and Higgins claimed to be able to pinpoint her way of speaking to Lisson Grove.
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- Thomas Beames, The Rookeries of London, Frank Cass, 1970.
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- Marland, Michael; Rogers, Rick (2002). Managing the Arts in the Curriculum - Michael Marland, Rick Rogers - Google Books. ISBN 9780435800567. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
- Brittain-Catlin, Timothy (2011). Leonard Manasseh & Partners. RIBA Publishing.
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Pineapples and Pantomimes: A History of Church Street and Lisson Green, Westminster Libraries, 1992, E McDonald and D J Smith
This article's use of external links may not follow Wikipedia's policies or guidelines. (September 2015) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
- LondonTown.com information
- Church Street Neighbourhood Centre
- North Paddington Guide
- Alfie's Antique Market
- Francesca Martire: 36, Church Street
- Designs for Discerning Rebels
- Decoratum: 31–33, Church Street
- Vincenzo Caffarella
- Deborah Woolf Vintage: 28, Church Street
- St. Edward's Catholic Primary School – Parent Teacher Association