“Trevor Square Area: Development of the Estate”*

From: Survey of London: Volume 45, Knightsbridge. Originally published by London County Council, London (2000):

“*By the late eighteenth century the larger (western) portion of the Trevor estate had been divided into two parts, comprising Powis House and its grounds and, to the west, a field with a workshop used for manufacturing floorcloth…It is presumably their separate development that accounts for the attenuated shape of Trevor Square. Both phases of development were handled by the same man, the architect William Fuller Pocock (1779–1849), the work being completed after his death by his son, William Willmer Pocock.

W. F. Pocock’s professional involvement with the development of the Trevor estate seems to have begun about 1810, when he advised Lord Dungannon (Arthur Hill-Trevor, 3rd Viscount Dungannon) to pull down Powis House and lay out the ground for building…

Work on laying out the Powis House grounds started in 1811, when the old house was demolished, but the development proceeded slowly…it was not until about 1827 that the last were finished. By that time the redevelopment of the floorcloth factory site was also in progress, and there the work turned out to be even more protracted. It was still incomplete at the time of W. F. Pocock’s death in 1849.

The Trevor estate development was to a very great extent Pocock’s own creation and took up much of his time for some years, as his son later recalled. In addition to designing the layout he was responsible, at least in general terms, for the appearance of all the new buildings, and he carried out parts of the development as his own speculation, later expressing regret that he had not taken on the whole…

As well as being the developer of Trevor Terrace, Pocock had his own residence there. He first occupied the corner house in the east range, later No. 233 Knightsbridge, living there from 1817 until c. 1828, when he moved to its counterpart in the west range, now No. 1 Trevor Place (then No. 1 Hill Street). The builder of the terrace, or part of it at least, was the bricklayer Thomas Emmins of Chelsea, to whom, or to whose nominees, Pocock sublet two of the houses…

Before many years had passed the eastern half had lost its residential character, becoming drawn into the racy and increasingly disreputable ambience of the High Road. Nos 1 and 2 became shops, as did No. 3, after many years in the occupation of surgeons, and in 1844 Nos 4 and 5 Trevor Terrace were converted into a public house, the Trevor Tavern, later the Trevor Arms, at the back of which a music-hall was built in the 1850s (see below).

In 1911 Nos 1, 2, and 3 (by then Nos 225–229 Knightsbridge) were pulled down by J. C. Humphreys, the purchaser of the Trevor estate. It was announced in August 1914 that bachelor flats were to be built on the site, to designs by Messrs Palgrave and Partners, but the scheme was not carried out, presumably on account of the war. Four years later Humphreys used the vacant ground for a western extension to Knightsbridge Hall (see page 88). Its site, together with that of the Trevor Arms and the musichall, is now covered by part of Mercury House.

The western range of Trevor Terrace retained its residential character, becoming the most select part of the estate. After W. F. Pocock’s death, his son W. W. Pocock continued to reside at No. 1 Trevor Place until the 1860s. The back drawing-room in this house had ‘a great deal of wood carving around the walls’, possibly some of the oak work acquired by the elder Pocock from Wanstead House, Essex (pulled down in 1824), which he is said to have incorporated into the building…

Past residents of Trevor Terrace include: Francis Augustus Bonney, surgeon and contributor of verse to the European Magazine and other journals (No. 3, later No. 229 Knightsbridge, c. 1847–57); Jonathan Thomas Carr, founder of Bedford Park (No. 7, now No. 237 Knightsbridge, 1870s); and Tristram Ellis, artist and traveller (No. 8, now No. 239 Knightsbridge, 1890s).

Development in Trevor Square and Trevor Street (called Charles Street until 1936) was slow to take off. In 1816 John Souter, a bricklayer, leased a plot for houses on the east side of the square, at the south end, with a chapel at the back on the corner of Arthur Street and Lancelot Place...Trevor Chapel was duly completed later in the year, but no houses were built, and when work on the square began in earnest in about 1818 or 1819 the semi-detached arrangement had given way to standard terraces. Leases of new houses forming the east side of the square north of Souter’s ground were granted between December 1819 and July 1821, one to a Chelsea bricklayer, James Binns, and the rest to nominees of the elder James Bonnin, the carpenter-builder responsible for much building in Brompton and Chelsea during the 1820s and ’30s...

In 1889–90 both Caroline Place and Petwin Place were pulled down and incorporated into the site of a new tennis court for the nearby Prince’s Club.

The architecture of Trevor Street and Trevor Square is characteristic of the late Georgian to Regeney period, and, though engaging – as long ago as 1909 The Times spoke of the square’s ‘old world charm’ – calls for little comment…Indoors, some houses retain their original door-frames and matching wooden chimney pieces of a pattern similar to one shown in W. F. Pocock’s Modern furnishings for rooms of 1811…

Inhabitants of the square before the First World War included several artists…Later occupants include the novelist Radclyffe Hall and her companion Lady Troubridge (No. 7), Leon Quartermaine, actor (No. 4), and the playwright Ben Travers (No. 10)…

Development in Arthur Street began a little earlier than in Trevor Square…The easternmost house became a pub in the 1840s, the Earl Grey. Censuses show this part of the estate to have been mainly working-class throughout the Victorian period (though the larger houses at Nos 17–22 Trevor Square seem to have retained a generally higher-class character until the mid-century).

On the north side of the street, at the corner with Lancelot Place, stood the Trevor Chapel, built in 1816 for an Independent congregation led by Dr John Morison, who had resigned as minister of Union Chapel in Sloane Street, following differences of opinion there. Pending the opening of the new chapel, in December 1816, Smith & Baber’s floorcloth factory provided a temporary meetingplace. The builder was a member of the congregation, John Souter, to whom the site, together with ground for houses in Trevor Square, had been leased some months earlier…

Trevor Chapel (latterly Trevor Congregational Church) closed about 1902, in which year the building was taken over by Harrods and converted for use as a showroom and garage for motor-carriages and accessories. It was later used as a warehouse until its demolition in the early 1950s.

All the old houses on the south side of Arthur Street were swept away about 1913 for the building of a large warehouse and factory for Harrods. The name was abolished in 1918, since when the whole street has been regarded as forming the south side of Trevor Square.

Lancelot Place takes its name from Lancelot Edward Wood, the stonemason involved in the development of houses in Trevor Square. The roadway itself originated as a driftway from the Brompton road to the back of the Rose and Crown on the Kensington road, and dates back to the eighteenth century or earlier…

At the back of the Trevor Arms in Trevor Terrace a small block of flats was built about 1890, on the site previously occupied by the Trevor Music Hall, and subsequently adapted as married quarters for soldiers from Knightsbridge Barracks.

The music hall, first licensed in 1854, was the westernmost of several such places of popular entertainment which flourished in early to mid-Victorian Knightsbridge. With galleries on three sides, the hall could seat 800.

A reconstruction on a grander scale, to designs by J. W. Brooker, was planned in 1889 but did not go forward, apparently because Lord Trevor was not willing to grant a new lease for such a purpose. The following year the landlord of the Trevor Arms, George Young, did obtain a new lease of the site, which he redeveloped as flats (soon let to the War Office), with a basement billiard-room communicating with the pub though under separate management. The six-storey block was built of red brick with stone dressings: bay windows were added to the upper floors in 1892 by the War Office. Except on the top (mansard) floor, where a communal laundry and wash-house were situated, each level was divided into four apartments, of three or four rooms.

The building was demolished after the Second World War for the Mercury House development.

The planning of Hill Street (renamed Trevor Place in 1936) dates back to about 1822, when W. F. Pocock began work on the replacement of Smith & Baber’s floorcloth factory, which then stood towards the north end of a large enclosure on the west side of the estate (immediately west of the present No. 239 Knightsbridge). But it was only in 1827, when additional land was acquired from the neighbouring landowner, T. W. Marriott, that the present layout became possible. The extra ground allowed houses to be built on the west side of the street south of the new factory. As part of the deal, Marriott was able to join his roadway at the top of Montpelier Square to the new street, thus connecting his estate, which he was then in the process of developing, with the Kensington road.

…Nothing further was built until about 1840, presumably as a consequence of the general slump in the building trades in the late 1820s and ’30s.

All the remaining plots were let to Pocock in a series of leases made between 1840 and 1843, but several houses had yet to be erected by the time of his death in 1849; they were completed by his son William Willmer Pocock...The corner house, formerly No. 36 Hill Street, is now numbered 45 Montpelier Square.

Although the earlier houses on the Trevor estate were apparently built of bricks made on site, some at least of those in Hill Street were constructed with bricks made by the Pococks at their brickfield in Battersea. This had been bought by W. F. Pocock in 1844, with the aim of cashing in on the brick shortage caused by the rush to complete buildings in the London suburbs before the new Building Act (with its revised definition of the metropolitan area) came into force.

Stylistically, the 1840s and ’50s houses in Trevor Place show how architectural fashion had moved on since Trevor Square was built…

Former residents of Trevor Place include: Henry Whittaker, artist (No. 14, late 1840s); Charles Digby Harrod, son of the founder of Harrods, largely responsible for the firm’s expansion from the 1860s (No. 2, 1860s–70s); the composer Constant Lambert (No. 10, late 1930s), the architect and designer Felix Harbord (No. 1, 1940s–50s), and the novelist Henry Green (No. 16, 1940s–50s).”

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