24 August 2016

BEDFORD PARK, THE ARTISTIC SUBURB


Here is a good description, with many photos, of the "Aesthetic" suburb of Bedford Park, written by Phil Beard. Bedford Park was a development for artistic people built in the last quarter of the 19th century and a concentration of Arts and Crafts ideals.

G.K.Chesterton mocked it in The Man Who Was Thursday (1908), which opens like this:

"The suburb of Saffron Park lay on the sunset side of London, as red and ragged as a cloud of sunset. It was built of a bright brick throughout; its sky-line was fantastic, and even its ground plan was wild. It had been the outburst of a speculative builder, faintly tinged with art, who called its architecture sometimes Elizabethan and sometimes Queen Anne, apparently under the impression that the two sovereigns were identical. It was described with some justice as an artistic colony, though it never in any definable way produced any art. But although its pretensions to be an intellectual centre were a little vague, its pretensions to be a pleasant place were quite indisputable. The stranger who looked for the first time at the quaint red houses could only think how very oddly shaped the people must be who could fit in to them. Nor when he met the people was he disappointed in this respect. The place was not only pleasant, but perfect, if once he could regard it not as a deception but rather as a dream. Even if the people were not "artists," the whole was nevertheless artistic."