Stylish Living Since 1935
The early houses along Pembroke Road (of which only Nos.29-33 still survive) were originally part of the Edwardes estate, formerly the largest estate in Kensington, covering over 250 acres. The name of Pembroke originated from the Edwardes family connection with Pembrokeshire in Wales. These houses were primarily built by local Kensington builder, Stephen Bird, between the 1820s and 1840s.
It was 100 years later that Nos. 1–27 (odd) Pembroke Road were replaced by two six-storey blocks of flats, Chatsworth Court and the smaller Marlborough Court, both of which were designed by H.F. Murrell and R. M. Pigott and erected in 1934–5 and 1937–8 respectively. The same architects were also responsible for the west-facing terrace of eight three-storey houses at Nos. 10–17 (consec.) Cromwell Crescent, which were erected in 1936–7 in place of Nos. 35 and 37 Pembroke Road.
The houses are in a typical 1930s idiom with brown-brick façades, composition balconies and step, green pan-tiled roofs. (British History Online)
Architects H.F. Murrell and R. M. Pigott, were responsible for a number of similar blocks across London, including Ovington Court (1929-30) in Knightsbridge, Malvern Court (1930-1) in South Kensington and Redcliffe Close (1937) in Old Brompton Road.
When completed, Chatsworth Court was promoted as a ‘country club in a garden’, facilities including tennis and squash courts, a swimming pool, restaurant and optional maid and uniformed porter services. The new flats also offered the latest in home conveniences such as electric clocks, internal telephones, heated towel rails and ‘water-softening plant [to give] clear, soft water for toilet purposes’. Copies of the original sales brochure can be obtained from Chatsworth Court Residents Association.
The Shackleton family
Amongst the early residents were the children of Antarctic explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton: Raymond, Cecily and Edward. The 1938 Directory reveals eldest son, Raymond Shackleton was at No. 83 and at the same time his sister, Cecily was at No.118. An announcement in The Times in 1940 also places youngest son, Edward, later Baron Shackleton, at Chatsworth Court with his wife Betty. In 1934 Edward Shackleton organised and took part in the expedition to Ellesmere Island and later went on to become Wing Commander during World War II. After the war, Edward became MP for Preston and rose to become Minister of Defence for the RAF in 1964-67 and Leader of the House of Lords from 1968 to 1970.
Screenwriters, film and record labels
Other notable residents of Chatsworth Court have included; Joan Collins & Anthony Newley, H. Fowler Mear, screenwriter for films such as Lord Edgeware Dies (1934) and Scrooge (1935) and some of the first Sherlock Holmes movies, including Sherlock Holmes’ Fatal Hour (1931) and Murder at the Baskervilles (1937). Also Nixon Hilton, who established Nixa Records, later becoming Pye Nixa, the second company to release LP records in the UK and later distributed records for Petula Clark, The Searchers and The Kinks during the 1950s and 60s.