HIDDEN LONDON : The Fake Houses of Leinster Gardens.
There are many anomalies in London, people who claim to be Cockneys are supposed to be born within the sound of Bow Bells, though I’m sure many who claim in rhyming slang of their origins come from farther afield,
In fashionable west London there are a few as well. Amongst the streets of grand white stucco houses that you might have seen pop up on myriad historic dramas, such as Downton Abbey , there is one street named Leinster gardens, mid Victorian in date with many listed buildings and very respectable. Though all is not as it seems.
Though you may think yourself lucky be invited to party there, beware! And do not RSVP if by any chance the address is number 23/24.
Yes, you can turn up in your best bib and tucker to a charity ball having paid your 10 guineas entrance fee as did the newly minted great and good did in 1930’s, but its unlikely you will be able to get in, not because you’re late , but no one will answer even if you knock.
As number 23/24 are facades of houses, perfectly created to fit in with the others, they were built in the 1850’s as the new Metropolitan Line Railway wound westward and needed somewhere for their steam powered locomotives to vent smoke and ash from their condensers. Rather than being released into the tunnels and stations which would have made it unpleasant for the passengers, this open air space was used and then hidden away from gentle folk of Bayswater by the facades.
Oh and did the party take really place? Yes some clever “Ne’er do wells “advertised a charity ball to which people could buy tickets and so folk turned up in their finery and stood about looking bewildered, having lost not only their money, but their dignity as well.
The buildings have also found fame in more recent years being used in the “ His Last Vow “episode of popular Sherlock Television series,where Mary Hudson’s face was projected onto the buildings.
And also just to confuse you more, there is a genuine Hotel at 23 Leinster Gardens, named the Henry VIII, which I’m told gives a very pleasant nights sleep, though don’t lose your head over it !
Fake Houses 23-24 Leinster Gardens, London W2 3AN
Henry VIII Hotel 23 Leinster Gardens, London W2 3AN