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Westbourne is an area west of Paddington in west London. It is named after the River Westbourne, an 1850s-encased Thames tributary. The spring-fed stream gave its name to Westbourne Green and then the Westbourne Park area as well as many street names and establishments including Westbourne Grove, Westbourne Park Road, Westbourne Park tube station, Westbourne Studios and the Westbourne pub.
The hamlet of Westbourne, was a High Middle Ages (mid-mediaeval) settlement, centred on Westbourne Green. It included a mansion house and a farmhouse. It is recorded as Westeburn in 1222 and as Westborn in 1294. The green is recorded as Westborne Grene in 1548, Washborne Green in 1680 and Wesborn Green in 1754.
The name Westbourne Park was given to the area when it was developed for housing. A London Underground station was opened in 1866. The first station operated until 1871, when it was replaced by another further east. Until 1992, the station also included GWR / British Rail platforms on its north-side. To the north and east there were extensive railway yards. Excellent transport encouraged many to reside in the area. More recently, the Westbourne Park bus garage was built, replacing railway yards north-east of the station, across the Great Western Road.
Un-suffixed by "Park" or "Green", use of the name Westbourne has faded, yet persists in the Westbourne Conservation Area, defined for planning purposes as an area mostly north of eastern Westbourne Grove; and Westbourne ward, one of twenty Westminster City Council electoral districts, north of the Westway and around the Great Western Road.
The manor of Westbourne was distinct from the manor of Paddington but, since it was then without a church, it did not form its own parish. Instead, it adjoined the western part of the parish of Paddington, where there was a church. The River Westbourne, running north to south, delimited Westbourne and Paddington parts of the parish. In later years, that lack of a central focus led to the area's manorial courts being seated in distant Knightsbridge, and the manor becoming known as "the Manor of Westbourne with Knightsbridge".
In 1746, Westbourne Green had five main houses, the largest of these being Westbourne Place (also known as Westbourne House), which had been rebuilt as an elegant Georgian mansion in 1745 by the architect Isaac Ware. The mansion had three storeys, with the frontage divided into three parts widthwise, and nine windows. The middle portion was topped by a large pediment and contained the further pedimented main door. Each end of the lower two storeys were formed into tri-windowed bays.
The mansion's well-known residents included: baronet Sir William Yorke, a Venetian ambassador, architect Samuel Pepys Cockerell (a distant relative of diarist Samuel Pepys) and General Rowland Hill, 1st Viscount Hill (Commander-in-Chief of the Army, 1828–39). Hill gave his name to Lord Hill's Bridge and left the house in 1836. Following Hill's departure, the mansion was demolished and replaced by the current gardened houses of Westbourne Park Villas. Lord Hill's Bridge remains abutting the Villas, accommodates Royal Oak tube station and joins Porchester Road with Harrow Road (below the Westway).
Westbourne Farm was located where the Westway, Harrow Road and the canal now converge. For the period 1815–17, the farm was home to actress Sarah Siddons and her daughter. The actress was buried at St Mary's Church on Paddington Green, Paddington's main church, where her grave remains.
Thomas Hardy lived in this area, mainly at 16 Westbourne Park Villas, his home 1863-67.
In the 1950s and 1960s many of the mansion houses in this area became part of Peter Rachman's property empire. After his death, the houses were demolished to make way for two large housing estates—the Brunel estate (1970s) and Wessex Gardens estate (1978).