Earls Court overview
What's it all about?
Snuggled between Kensington and Fulham, Earls Court, with its high proportion of flats, has always been a bit of a crossroads where people from different walks of life have coincided and cohabited. The area was once somewhat down at heel and known as ‘bedsit land’, but students living in such a central location these days would consider themselves lucky, while families are drawn to the rejuvenated period properties. Many Earls Court homes are attached to private gardens and squares, providing residents with their own pocket of tranquil green space in the middle of this thriving urban area. Earls Court has been an international corner of London since World War II, when the arrival of Polish immigrants led to Earls Court Road being dubbed the ‘Danzig Corridor’. Later in the century, travellers from Australia and New Zealand congregated in Earls Court and the area’s nickname became ‘Kangaroo Valley’. Now home to a large British Filipino population, the area has a historical diversity that has contributed to the wealth of international restaurants and cultural activities that lure people to this desirable corner of London.
- Freddie Mercury, legendary lead singer of rock band Queen, lived and died at 1 Logan Place, just off the Earls Court Road.
- Diana, Princess of Wales, lived at 60 Coleherne Court in Earls Court before her marriage to Prince Charles. She was given the £50,000 flat as an 18th birthday present from her parents and lived there with three flatmates.
- In 1911, Earls Court became the first Tube station to get an escalator.
Architecture and property
The development of Earls Court as a residential area was triggered by the construction of the Earls Court Exhibition Centre in 1887. Brothers James and Robert Gunter developed tracts of large family homes with mews around the centre, although the homes didn’t sell as well as anticipated and many were converted into flats.
The most desirable Earls Court properties are in the east of the area, located on residential squares or around enclosed gardens. These green spaces are surrounded by impressive Victorian homes, some of which are divided into flats. Earls Court also also boasts several terraces of stucco fronted housing, as well as blocks of late Victorian mansion flats and some more contemporary post war architecture.
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Eating: A melting pot of different cultures and cuisines, Earls Court boasts a wealth of independent and chain restaurants. One of the best is 222 Veggie Vegan, led by talented chef Ben Asamani, where even the most ardent carnivore will find something to suit. The Harwood Arms Fulham was the first Michelin starred pub in London, and its set menu has remained reasonably priced. Popular for lunch, Addie's Thai serves traditional Bangkok street food in a cosy setting.
Drinking: London’s speakeasy scene is flourishing, and Earls Court has got in on the act with the dark and sultry bar at the Evans & Peel Detective Agency. Customers are required to state their ‘case’ on entry, so be prepared to think on your feet and it’s best to book in advance to secure a table. Don’t miss a visit to The Troubadour London, one of the last remaining 1950s coffee houses where greats including Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Adele have graced the stage of its intimate basement performance space.
Theatre: While the West End is easily accessible, Earls Court locals have no need to travel further than Old Brompton Road for some quality drama. The fringe theatre at The Drayton Arms seats 50, while the pub downstairs does an excellent pre show dinner. The Finborough Theatre is an intimate venue that showcases productions so good they regularly transfer to the West End.
- Take advantage of the public gym in Normand Park or, for more specialised exercise and personal training, the Soho Gym is a good alternative.
- One of the best in the area, Thai spa Sabai Leela offers specialist massage therapies as well as reflexology and beauty treatments.
- Brompton Library is unusual in being one of the few remaining London libraries open six days a week (closed Sunday). It also has a meeting room available for locals to hire.
- There are Co-operative and Marks & Spencer supermarkets near the station, as well as Sainsbury’s and Waitrose stores a short walk away. A number of smaller convenience stores are open 24 hours and the Tesco superstore on West Cromwell Road is also open continuously between Tuesday and Friday.
- A number of major museums are close by including the National History Museum, V&A and the Science Museum.
- Earls Court has no shortage of car parks, a legacy from the days when the area needed to cater for huge numbers of visitors coming to Earls Court Exhibition Centre.
- Brompton Cemetery is one of London’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ cemeteries, and the Grade I listed space is a beautiful and fascinating place to while away an hour or two.
Although Earls Court is largely an urban area, there are pockets of green space to be found. Many properties around the station have shared communal gardens and there are a couple of larger parks nearby. Normand Park is located on Lillie Road and has public swimming pools and a Virgin Active gym. Holland Park is a 10 minute walk north of Earls Court and boasts attractive lawns and wooded areas, a Japanese garden, cafe, sports facilities and the venue for Opera Holland Park, which stages concerts in summer. The many charms of Royal Park Kensington Gardens are less than half an hour’s stroll away.
The historic Earls Court Exhibition Centre closed its Art Deco doors for the last time in December 2014 and the building will soon be largely demolished as part of the Earls Court Masterplan. When completed, the area is set to be transformed by some 7,500 new homes, coupled with a new high street and school.
Tube: Earls Court Tube Station is in both Zones 1 and 2 and is on the Piccadilly and District Lines. Piccadilly Line journeys to Leicester Square and King’s Cross take 13 and 19 minutes respectively, while a District Line train takes 21 minutes to reach Monument. West Brompton is on the District Line and also part of the Overground network offering a link to Stratford and Clapham Junction.
Rail: Southern services from West Brompton run to Clapham Junction, Watford Junction and Milton Keynes.
Buses: Local bus routes include numbers 430 (to Putney), 190 (to Richmond), C3 (to Clapham Junction), C1 (to Victoria), 328 (to Golders Green), and 74 (to Baker Street).
Cycle: The 25 minute cycle to Charing Cross is a picturesque one, passing alongside Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park.
Road: The A4 passes through Earls Court, offering a quick route out of London, and it’s a 13 minute drive to the M4.
Bousfield Primary School is a popular choice. The famous illustrator Quentin Blake lives nearby and visits the school to give prizes at the annual Leavers’ Assembly. The London Oratory School is one of London’s oldest Catholic state schools for boys. Located near Brompton Park, it has a coed sixth form. In 2014, Earl's Court Free School Primary was opened by the West London Free School Charitable Trust, which has previously opened two free schools in Hammersmith. There is also a Snowflake School for children with autism.
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