Keeping the Ladbroke area special​

Tracing the history of your house

This article by Carolyn Starren is based on a talk that she gave for the Ladbroke Association in 2009.

This can be a fascinating and rewarding study and enjoyed by all the family. All the sources listed below can be found in the Local Studies section of the Kensington Central Library. Before visiting the library, do check for any documentary sources you may have at home, e.g. deeds, land registry documents or architectural plans detailing alterations. It may also be useful to familiarise yourself with the general history of the area. An introduction can be found on the Ladbroke Association website, and histories of each street in the area are also being progressively posted on the website. Books about the area include:

• Notting Hill in Bygone Days, by Florence Gladstone, originally published in 1924 and republished in 1969 with additional material by Ashley Barker (Anne Bingley).

• Notting Hill and Holland Park Past, by Barbara Denny (Historical Publications, 1993).

• Notting Hill Behind the Scenes, by Hermione Campion, (, 2007) – contains many old photographs of the area.

Colin Thorn’s book Researching London’s Houses (Historical Publications 2005) is particularly recommended, as it explains in detail the purpose of and how to use the sources listed below and many others available in other repositories.

Buildings and Architecture

Survey of London

Vol. 39, Chapter 9 (pp. 194-257) of the Survey of London (published by the Greater London Council in 1973) gives a very detailed description of the development of the Ladbroke Estate, including a list of building leases with dates, developer and builder. It is also available on line at


The best visual and instantly understandable resource is maps. The Local Studies section has a good collection of old maps in their map cases. Prior to 1860 parish maps are useful, as are large scale London maps such as Davies of 1841 and 1847.

The Ordnance Survey large-scale maps (5′ and 25″ to a mile) show the site, size and shape of individual houses, sometimes even garden design, and the immediate street layout. These were first produced in the 1860s and revised in 1890s, early 20th century and 1930s. Note, however, that street names and house numbering systems have sometimes changed and many streets and houses only acquired their present names and numbers in the 1860s or later. In particular, it was common in the first half of the 19th century for each terrace in a street to have its own name and numbering system. It may be easiest, therefore, to start with the 1935 Land Registry edition, which includes house numbers, and work backwards making notes of any changes to street names and alterations to the house.


The History Index in the Local Studies section, arranged alphabetically, gives references to all metropolitan and borough plans held in the archives. These include early sewer plans (from 1856); street naming and numbering plans (especially important as hours can be wasted researching the wrong house); and building applications (1872-1925). Plans can also be found attached to manuscripts and these are accessed via the manuscript index. Another useful series of plans are drainage applications which date from 1850s. Nearly every house has at least one application but coverage and detail can vary from sketch plans and outlines to detailed elevations and floor plans. They also show when a house changed from single to multi-occupancy and sometimes back to single occupancy. 

Vestry records 1855-1900

These include minutes and surveyors’ returns. Exact references can be found in the Survey of London.

Deeds and manuscripts

A search of the manuscript index in the Local Studies Section will quickly show any property deeds relating to your house that are held in the archives. There is a particularly good collection of deeds relating to houses put up William Drew and Richard Roy. Although reading these deeds can be challenging in terms of both the legal jargon and the Victorian penmanship, they do contain a wealth of information, including dates of sales, terms of tenancies, purchase prices, rents, and names and addresses of owners, tenants, sellers and purchasers or mortgagees. Usually the most important parts of the document can be easily identified as the first words are written in bold and/or capitals.

Rate and valuation books

These offer an accurate record of occupiers and value of property and are an invaluable aid to tracing the history of a street and individual houses. Rates were collected twice yearly. A relatively complete set of books from the mid 18th to mid 19th century is held at the Local Studies Section. After that period quinquennial valuation books are held. The 1910 “New Domesday” books give a very detailed snapshot of properties, showing their owners and occupiers at the beginning of the 20th century

Planning records

The planning history of individual houses can be consulted on microfiche in the Planning section of the Town Hall in Hornton Street. The records mostly go back to the 1950s and sometimes to the 1930s. Many – especially the more recent ones – have been scanned and can also be consulted on the RBKC website.

Bomb incident cards

These contemporaneous warden’s reports are arranged alphabetically by street and give date of incident, type of bomb, damage caused and casualties.

Owners and occupiers

Census returns

The ten-yearly census returns for 1841-1901 are available on microfilm in the Local Studies Centre, although unfortunately the part of the 1841 census that covered the Ladbroke estate has been lost. The 1911 census has recently been released on a pay-per-search basis via the internet. The census returns give details of all members of the household, their ages, occupations and place of birth.


The most useful are the local street directories dating from the late 19th century but earlier London wide ones are available on microfilm. Court guides (directories listing the names and addresses of people of standing) are also useful for the Ladbroke area.

Electoral rolls

These are the best source of information on late 19th and early 20th century residents and are arranged by polling district and then by street. From 1890 to 1894, the Ladbroke area is divided between three polling districts: Pembridge, Ladbroke and Norland; from 1895 onwards, all the relevant streets are listed under the Pembridge and Norland polling districts. 

Other sources


There is a large but not comprehensive collection of drawings, postcards and photographs in the Local Studies section that has been built up since 1888. Coverage of the Ladbroke area is quite good especially of postcards dating from 1902-1910. There is also a more recent photographic survey undertaken in the late 1960s to early 1970s.

The Ladbroke Association has also undertaken its own photographic survey, with photographs of every house front in the area taken between 2003 and 2008. This is on CD in the Local Studies section of Kensington Public Library..


Including estate agent particulars and newspaper cuttings on properties and
residents. These are filed under streets in the Local Studies section.

Carolyn Starren 
March 2009


Page last updated 3.2.2015