Craven Hill Gardens is steeped in modern history as a result of its central location, and much of this history has been documented and preserved.
For a detailed history of the Craven Hill Gardens area, see the historical material on the Corringham site or the "Paddington: Bayswater" section from "A History of the County of Middlesex". A summary of the former is:
In 1733 William 3rd Baron Craven bought Upton Farm with its 9 acres of land in the common fields of Bayswater. He replaced the farm with a large house and accompanying grounds, ponds and buildings, the construction of which were permitted provided that in the event of another plague, the buildings would be converted to a hospital. This estate was passed as whole through the family until 1825 when it was divided amongst the heirs of William 7th Baron Craven. These parts were then variously developed and/or sold in tandem with the growth and development of the surrounding area, what was referred to as a "great aristocratic town" during the mid to late 1800's. During this period Whiteley's grew as a luxurious shopping destination (although the present building was not completed until 1911), and both Paddington Station and the Underground were introduced into the area.
The numerous maps of the greater London area dating from the 1700s onwards show the transition over a period of 100 years. The majority of the area appears to have been built in the 1840s and 1850s. Compare the farmland of 1786 to the moderate buildings of the 1825 to the urban density of 1889.
John Cary's "Actual Survey of the Country Fifteen Miles Around London" was one of the first London maps, and "The area including Hampstead, Kensington, Paddington and Hammersmith in 1786" indicates the location of Craven Hill. Christopher and John Greenwood's "Map of London ... from an Actual Survey made in the years 1824, 1825 and 1826" reveals in the "Detail of area south of Westbourne Green and north of Hyde Park" further developments on Cravenhill Lane Charles Booth's "Poverty Map of London" published in 1889 clearly shows that the streets of and around Craven Hill Gardens are coloured green for "Upper-middle and Upper classes. Wealthy".
Through the 20th century, the area seems to have been much the same as it is today, with a mix of homes (whether lived-in or short-term leased) and hotels. There are contrasts, such as the cheap backpacker accommodation on one side of the square to the fabulously upmarket Hempel Hotel on the other. In general, the recent trend in the 21st century, occurring broadly across the Bayswater and Paddington area, is a move upmarket - the construction of The Lancasters is a clear indication of this. The tone of the area will continue to improve as the northern side of Hyde Park chases the demand and stature of the southern, eastern and western sides.
Historical plaques (whether blue, green or otherwise) can be found in the area around Craven Hill Gardens, denoting a place of historical significance. The following is an overview of those bounded by Queensway, Edgware Road, Bayswater Road and Bishops Bridge Road / Praed Street. View these on a Google Map.
- Sir J.M. (James) Barrie (1860 - 1937): Novelist and Dramatist, lived here -- 100 Bayswater Road.
- Constantine Cavafy (1863 - 1933): Greet poet -- 14-15 Queensborough Terrace.
- Sir William Sterndale Bennett (1816 - 1875): Composer, lived here -- 38 Queensborough Terrace.
- Francis Bret Harte (1836 - 1902): American writer, lived here -- 74 Lancaster Gate.
- Charles Manby (1804 - 1884): Civil Engineer, lived here -- 60 Westbourne Terrace.
- Robert Stephenson (1803 - 1859): Engineer, died here -- 35 Gloucester Square.
- William Henry (W.H.) Smith (1825 - 1891): Bookseller and Statesman, lived here -- 12 Hyde Park Street.
- William Makepeace Thackeray (1811 - 1863): Novelist -- 16 Albion Street.
- Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (1880 - 1960): Architect, designed this house and lived here 1926-1960 -- Chester House, Clarendon Place.
- Lady, Baroness Violet Bonham-Carter (1887 - 1969): Politician and Writer, lived here -- 43 Gloucester Square.
- Sir Charles Vyner Brooke (1874 - 1963): Last Rajah of Sarawak, lived here -- 13 Albion Street.
- Lord Randolph Churchill (1849 - 1895): Statesman, lived here 1883-1892 -- 2 Connaught Place.
- Sir Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965): Lived in a house on this site (1921 - 1924) -- Caxton Hall, 2 Sussex Square.
- Milos Crnjanski (1893 - 1977): Writer -- 31-155 Queens Court, Queensway.
- Marie Taglioni (1809 - 1884): Ballet Dancer, lived here in 1875-1876 -- 14 Connaught Square.
- Tommy Handley (1892 - 1949): Radio Comedian, lived here -- 34 Craven Road.
- Susan Lawrence (1871 - 1947): Social Reformer, lived here -- 44 Westbourne Terrace.
- John Claudius Loudon (1783 - 1843): Their horticultural work gave new beauty to London squares, lived here -- 3 Porchester Terrace.
- Jane Loudon (1807 - 1858): Their horticultural work gave new beauty to London squares, lived here -- 3 Porchester Terrace.
- Olive Schreiner (1855 - 1920): Author, lived here -- 16 Portsea Place.
- Tyburn Martyrs (1535 - 1681): Site of Tyburn Tree -- 8 Hyde Park Place.
- Hertha Ayrton (1854 - 1923): Physicist, lived here 1903-1923 -- 41 Norfolk Square.
- Richard Tauber (1891 - 1948): Lyric Tenor, lived here in flat 297 1947-1948 -- Park West, Edgware Road.
- Sir Alexander Fleming (1881 - 1955): Discovered Penicillin in the second storey room above this plaque -- St Mary's, Praed Street.
Numerous films for television or cinema have been filmed in our around Craven Hill Gardens, including the following. It is not unusual to find a location crew occupying a street and a site for up to a week.
- Notting Hill (1999) -- the wedding scenes at the close of the film are set in the gardens of the Hempel Hotel in 31-35 Craven Hill Gardens.
- The Cellist (1969) -- Bette Davis and Michael Redgrade meet in a boarding house at 37 Craven Hill Gardens.
- Lost (1955), Joanna (1968), The Astonished Heart (1949), Trottie True (1948), Touch and Go (1955), Yield to the Night (1956), Carve Her Name With Pride (1958), Subterfuge (1969), The Big Sleep (1978), Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004), Wilmbledon (2004) -- all contain scenes set around the Fountains and Italian Gardens in Kensington Gardens.
- The Italian Job (1969) -- Michael Caine visits the Royal Lancaster Hotel on Lancaster Terrace after his release from prison.
- Endless Night (1972), Scandal (1989), Three Blind Mice (2002), Mike Bassett England Manager (2001) -- all involve scenes set outside places in Lancaster Gate, the first two at number 24, and the last outside the former headquarters of the Football Association at number 16.
- Forbidden Cargo (1954) -- Nigel Patrick is filmed in the 'King's Court Hotel', which is now Caesar's Hotel in Queen's Gardens.
- S*P*Y*S (1974), Sweeney! (1976e), Sid and Nancy (1986), Castaway (1987) -- scenes are filmed in the Inverness Hotel on Inverness Terrace close to Bayswater Road.
- The Informers (1964), The London Connection (1979) -- both have scenes set in Gloucester Mews, and in the former Derren Nesbitt is also filmed at 88 Gloucester Terrace on the corner of Chilworth Street.
- The Fourth Protocol (1987) -- Michael Caine lives at 101 Eastbourne Mews.
- Trainspotting (1996) -- the drug deal is set around Smallbrook Mews and the Royal Eagle Hotel on Craven Road.
- Scoop (2006) -- scenes set inside The Mitre pub on the corner of Craven Terrace and Lancaster Mews.
- Cassandra's Dream (2007) -- inside scenes with Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell are filmed in Cleveland Square.
- Smiley's People (1982) -- the General lives on Westbourne Terrace and other scenes are filmed in Craven Road.