Located in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the earliest account of the name Notting Hill comes from the Patent Rolls of 1356 which lists the area as “Knottynghull”. Long before the rich people moved in and Richard Curtis made the neighbourhood popular with his film starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, it was largely a working-class area. Late-Twentieth Century gentrification transformed Notting Hill into what it is today. Now full of people with money, bookshops, and antique dealers, there are plenty of interesting things to know about one of London’s most famous districts.
Shake a Tail Feather
While Carnival is a tradition in the Americas that takes place on Fat Tuesday in February before the beginning of Lent, the Notting Hill Carnival is a street festival celebrated every August Bank Holiday. Like its South American counterpart, there’s a strong Caribbean theme to the carnival with plenty of performers and floats along the parade route. The festival attractions 2 million people and requires 9,000 police officers and 40,000 volunteers.
280 Westbourne Park Road is the location of the famous blue door from the film. Richard Curtis was inspired to write it into the film Notting Hill as he once lived at this location. The original door was sold at auction and the then-owners decided to replace it with a black door that would attract less attention from movie fans. The current owners then painted the door blue to capitalize on the film’s popularity.
The English-based street artist left an example of his work on a wall near the corner of Acklam Road and Portobello Road. It depicts an old-fashioned artist painting Banksy’s name. Property owner Luti Fagbenle opted to sell the wall on eBay, where it fetched an ultimate price of $400,000.
Notorious serial killer John Christie lived at 10 Rillington Place in Notting Hill and was a projectionist at Electric Cinema during World War II. During the 1940s and 50s, he killed at least eight women by strangulations, including his own wife, Ethel. A later tenant doing renovations to Christie’s kitchen discovered the bodies of three of his victims. Police began a manhunt that ended when Christie was arrested near Putney Bridge a week later. Ultimately, Christie was only tried and convicted for the murder of his wife, being executed by hanging in 1953.
The Ladbroke family owned much of the land in Notting Hill in the 19th Century. As such, several streets and locations in the district are named after the family, including: Ladbroke Terrace, Ladbroke Crescent, Ladbroke Road, Ladbroke Mews, Ladbroke Grove, Ladbroke Hall, Ladbroke Walk and Ladbroke Square Garden.
Since the 1960s, Notting Hill has seen a transformation from a blue collar neighbourhood to a white collar one. In one example of the area’s gentrification, 157 Portland Road was purchased for £11,750 in 1968. By 2012, it was worth £2 million.
Not the Mushrooms
The name for Portobello Road actually comes from the War of Jenkins’ Ear, when Admiral Edward Vernon captured the Panamanian town of Puerto Bello from the Spanish. Nearby Vernon Yard also honours the admiral.
Pay the Toll
Notting Hill Gate served as a major thorough fare and, as such, was the location of several tolls over history, hence the name.
With the influx of Caribbean immigrants after World War II, several far right groups emerged with the desire to resist the growing diversity of London. In 1958, an assault against Majbritt Morrison by a racist gang, which later turned into a mob of 300 to 400 people attacking the homes of West Indian residents. The rioting and attacks on the residents lasted from August 20 to September 5.
Fittingly for a neighbourhood with several bookshops, Notting Hill has also been the setting of several novels, including G.K. Chesterton’s The Napoleon of Notting Hill, Colin MacInnes’s Absolute Beginners, The Hopkins Manuscript by R.C. Sherriff, Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty, and a series of Jerry Cornelius adventures by Michael Moorcock.