A unique property on Pembroke Road
Words by Jake Russell
Take a tour of a former vicarage with exceptional interiors on a historic street in Kensington
The origins of Pembroke Road
Pembroke Road lies to the south of Holland Park. The original houses were built between 1820 and 1840 as part of the Edwardes estate. This was once the largest estate in Kensington, covering more than 250 acres.
The estate belonged to William Edwardes, first Baron Kensington. His father was a member of parliament for Pembrokeshire, Wales, and the family’s links to that region were the reason for the street’s name.
At the top of the road stands St Philip’s Church, a brick building with stone gables and slate roof tiles. This church was constructed in 1856 and consecrated the following year, to meet demand for the expanding neighbourhoods of West London.
A modern renovation
The vicarage for St Philip’s was built in 1956 at the western end of the road. In 2006 it was sold by the Church of England and acquired by the present owners, who decided to completely refurbish the property, extending it over three floors.
On visiting the house, the first thing you notice is the ironwork gates enclosing the front garden. More ironwork features on the balustrades rising up to the front door, the main staircase in the entrance hall, the railings of the rear balconies and the ballroom-like external staircase leading down into the garden. In each case, this beautiful metalwork was designed by Matt Livsey Hammond and built by one of his artisans.
This quality of workmanship continues throughout the house. For example, the skylight above the central staircase was designed by Marston & Langinger. Meanwhile, the bespoke handrail on the staircase was designed by H Brettell & Sons, its wood chosen to match the American black walnut flooring in the main reception room, laid out in a Versailles pattern by Ebony & Co. And upstairs, in the master bedroom suite, the large panels lining the bathroom walls are all of Carrera marble.
The lower ground floor originally contained a garage and a boiler. During the refurbishment, the floor was sunk down to allow for higher ceilings, with a patio dug into the garden at the same level. This provided space for a kitchen by the Italian designers Pedini, with appliances by Gaggenau, as well as a dining area and informal reception room.
Here, the quality of the materials and design is matched by careful attention to detail. So, the same Portland stone is used to pave the downstairs kitchen and the garden patio, running from kitchen to patio without interrupting the pattern. This create a seamless space, blending indoors and out, while inviting al fresco dining whenever possible.
The garden itself is barely overlooked and the patio is especially secluded. In addition, the trees in the garden are floodlit at night – the arrangement specially designed by John Cullen Lighting – to create beautiful views. This space also receives all-day sun, with floor-to-ceiling windows and French doors in the kitchen to maximise the brightness.
A very special house
Recently, the current owners built a basement floor laid out for a large study in the well-lit front room, as well as a bedroom suite, home gym and cinema. The rooms have a ceiling height of 2.8m and are ready to receive fixtures and fittings.
The owners have since had a change of plan – deciding to move to another local address – leaving a versatile basement space that could easily be adapted to the plans of a new owner. Combined with the building’s unusual width and off-street parking, it only adds to the interest of this special house.
View the full property listing here.
A portrait of the Holland Park Circle
Words by Jake Russell
A perfect pair of Chelsea houses
Words by Leo Russell