Hole in the Wall, Kensington | Look Up London

The Odd History Behind The Hole in the Wall in Kensington 

While planning a bespoke private tour in the back streets of Kensington I noticed an odd marking on google maps; “The Hole in the Wall”. When I saw it in person it’s rather more substantial than a hole and a little plaque gives a hint about its odd backstory.

Hole in the Wall, Kensington | Look Up London

You can find this oddity on Rutland Mews East amongst the haven of quiet, beautiful cobbled mews off the main drag of Brompton Road.

The wall in question, probably built in the 19th century, once marked the edge of the Rutland Estate.

Hole in the Wall, Kensington | Look Up London

History of The Rutland Estate  

The network of streets named Rutland Gate are a surviving clue along with the two offset residential squares. These two green spaces were once the lower and upper fields, part of the 3-acre site known as Wellfields and owned by William Muschamp.

I’ve highlighted the two residential squares in pale red, showing the off set layout that still survives today. Also underlined in red is the Hole in the Wall google maps indicator

By 1752 John Manners, 3rd Duke of Rutland, had built Rutland House which sat on the upper fields while the lower was being used as a paddock.

Image Credit: Public Domain. Portrait by Charles Jervis, 1725, Belvoir Castle

The Duke was MP for Rutland and was also a patron of the arts; a big collector of paintings, drawings and prints as well as one of the Directors of the Royal Academy of Music.

Rutland House can be seen on the C and J Greenwood map of 1828 (pictured below) and was a middling-sized mansion, two storeys and built of red brick house with Portland-stone dressings. In short, very adequate for the Duke, his lover; Mrs Elizabeth Drake and their (illegitimate) 7 year old son; Edward.

Image Credit: C and J Greenwood (1828) via layersoflondon.org (C) OpenStreetMap contributors

The Duke did have an older son and heir; John Manners, Marquess of Granby, so perhaps that explains the relatively small size and out-of-the-way location for this property.

Manners seems to be the most exemplary of first-born aristocratic sons; educated at Eton then graduating from Cambridge, becoming an MP and then serving as a Lieutenant-General in the British Army during the 7 years war.

Image Credit: Public Domain

However, Manners died in 1773, shortly before his father in 1779, so the house passed to Elizabeth Drake. She eventually died in 1800 and it was left to her son; Edward and then to his wife; Ann Stafford.

When Ann died the house was put up for sale but failed to attract a buyer. It was demolished for redevelopment in 1836 and the estate passed from the Manners family in 1853.

But back to the hole in the wall…

Hole in the Wall, Kensington | Look Up London

The wall enclosing the Rutland Estate was fairly troublesome for residents, creating a long detour up towards Hyde Park and around and along Brompton Road to the shopping district of Knightsbridge.

However, as fate would have it a bomb – dropped on 25 September 1940 – destroyed the boundary wall.

Hole in the Wall, Kensington | Look Up London

The plaque proclaims that ’At the request of residents, a right of way was established when the wall was rebuilt by the City of Westminster’.

So from 1948 residents north of Ennismore Street can enjoy a speedier walk to Harrods!


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7 Comments

  • Michael Garrod

    Reply

    Excellent stories, so well researched and told.
    Unfortunately I can’t join the walks often as I live near Oxford.
    However, I so enjoy these London oddities.
    Keep them coming, please!

    July 20, 2022 at 10:17 am
  • Ronald Lloyd

    Reply

    Dear Katie, what a lovely story about a ‘Hole in the Wall’. I thought the story and illustrations were just perfect. I always love looking at your latest London Blog, because most of the places I have visited at some time or another. Of course some would have been a long time ago when I was a policeman working in such areas. I have many fond memories of these places. Of ourse there are also some dangerous occasions especially during the 1970s whilst dealing with terrorism etc I still loved looking around the area to find unusual places. Another very memorable place was when I was patrolling or at Bow Street Police Station and of course Covent Garden. I wondered if you had any more stories about these areas? Love from Ron.

    July 20, 2022 at 10:58 am
  • Maureen Richardson

    Reply

    Hello Katie A friend who lived in London while working for a US company told me about the Hole In the Wall and I have used it ever since whenever I am in my favourite city. I love it. Its such a great short cut ax you described. Thank you Maureen Richardson

    July 20, 2022 at 2:46 pm
  • Adrian Butters

    Reply

    Hi
    As Mr Garrod has pointed out, so well told and researched, These stories about some of the off-beat oddities to be found in and around London are unbeatable, so, please keep them coming Katie, thank you, yours truly, Adrian Butters.

    July 20, 2022 at 10:44 pm
  • Jennifer Goodenough

    Reply

    Love the hole in the wall! I used to work in an office on Ennismore Gardens and used it on a daily basis!

    August 17, 2022 at 1:31 pm
  • Allyson Shortland

    Reply

    In the Will of Charles Munden in 1773, he bequeaths his freehold messuage commonly called and known by the name and sign of The Hole in the Wall in Chelsea. Could this be one and the same Wall?

    December 24, 2022 at 2:52 am

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