Portobello Road’s history stretches back to the creation of Smithfield Market in the Middle Ages; here is an extract from Galleries, Palaces & Tea: An Illustrated Guide To London (£9.99; author, David Backhouse) by Curll Press which can be ordered from all good bookstores…

PORTOBELLOROAD - BITMAPOne of the great pleasures of London life is moseying through her street markets. Those whom you pass may be fashion industry trend spotters, dressed-down gazillionaires, or frugally minded souls who suspect that parsnips may be 5p cheaper a kilo at that veg stall along the way. Portobello Road and her North London counterpart Camden Market are both integral parts of metropolitan life as well as being must-see attractions for visitors from across the globe. The stallholders of both have prompted books – Caitlin Davies’s Camden Lock and The Market and Blanche Girouard’s Portobello Voices. However, this does not mean that the two souks are of one hue. Almost all of Camden is controlled by a single privately owned company. It is located in a borough that has been run by the political left for decades. By contrast, Portobello is a publicly owned market that is run by the most staunchly Tory council in Britain.

  • In 1739 Admiral Edward Vernon defeated a Spanish force at Puerto Bello in the Caribbean.[1] To mark the victory, a farmstead, in what is now Notting Hill, was named after it. Portobello Road derived its appellation from the property.
  • A local market existed in the late 1830s. This was dominated by Gypsy horse-traders who had been drawn to the area by the nearby Notting Hill Hippodrome racecourse. In 1841 the track was closed. The repository faded away.
  • In the 1880s an informal street market grew up. Following the First World War many of the stallholders were ex-servicemen. This factor prompted the authorities to hold back from suppressing it. The London County Council finally licensed the mart in 1927. During the 1930s antiques dealers began to do business in it. After the Second World War the general market of the Caledonian Market in Islington was closed down. Portobello Road received many of the traders who had been working there.
  • There is a daily street market. On Saturdays the northern section of the road becomes geared to the young and international visitors, while the southern portion tends to be more weighted towards the antiques trade. During the market’s first couple of hours, the dealers sell items to one another. At around breakfast time antique collectors begin to appear and as the morning progresses so the ordinary public come to predominate.


Further reading: Blanche Girouard’s Portobello Voices (2013).

[1] ‘Old Grog’s’ participation in the major British setback at Cartagena de las Indias, on the northern coast of South America, two years later is not commemorated. Indeed, to most Britons it is completely unknown. The admiral’s popularity survived the débâcle untarnished. (There had been other British naval successes at Portobello in 1707 and 1726. These too are little known.)

London Stories, London Lives (£9.99) is the latest in the series. Currently downloadable is the mini-guide Galleries, Palaces & Tea: An Illustrated E-Guide To London (£1.29 e-book). Future titles in the London series include: Beans, Bears & Piracy and Art, Guns & Snuff.



‘The most difficult thing for me is a portrait. You have to try and put your camera between the skin of a person and his shirt.’ – Henri Cartier-Bresson


Kensal Rise’s Rowan Williams loves her family’s photos: ‘I’ve collected portraits of family through the generations. The oldest one dates back to just before 1900. It’s lovely looking through them and scrutinising those faces for family resemblances, but it’s only from my mother that I know that my great grandfather was really funny and great with children, or that my great grandmother was eccentric and a real character – those old photos don’t tell me what kind of people they were. Without the stories handed down to me, I can’t get a sense of their characters.’

Meanwhile, we also love family photos, but we’re just not the kind to go in for posed studio portraits – we wanted a picture of us together that was also a snapshot of our personalities…

‘Thankfully we live in a time where photography is so accessible that we have the equipment and digital opportunity to experiment and capture true personalities. That’s is what I love to do with my photos. Experiment, create and capture characters,’ says Ro.

Being a family-portrait photographer requires Rowan to create a relaxed atmosphere and put people at ease; so she thought it would be great to really have some fun and tell stories for future generations…

Rowan Williams Photographer

‘The little quirks and differences within any family are what make it work. I loved taking this photo; setting up the shot with Kitty and spreading the pens around and discussing what to draw, while Simon got ready to pose on the stairs with the brush and vacuum cleaner (and genuinely started to clean the stairs while he was there) while Juliet was Instagramming a photo of me taking the picture. It was truly a real family portrait.’

And so there you have it: the first #RealFamilyPortrait was born.

Cost: £100 for an hour-and-a-half session. Chat to Ro on the phone or over a coffee about how your photo might look. On the shoot day she’ll come to your home and you’ll create the ‘real life’ scene together. Rowan edits and supplies a selection of 10 images for you to pick one from to be printed, plus you get the digital file to keep. ‘Oh, and I’m not averse to helping out with the tidying up after!’ 

Get in touch at ro@rophotographs.com


Lisa started Born & Bred Studio as she felt there was a gap in the service industry for lived-in ‘homey’ design inspired by London living…

Born & BredWhy the name?

‘Our name was inspired by the amount of friends who are genuinely shocked when they meet a genuine born-and-bred Londoner. The saying also resonates with a feeling of home and belonging.’

Describe your style and services…

‘Interior design services have a reputation for being expensive and out of reach for most and the designs seem formal with symmetry that wouldn’t be out of place in a hotel rather than a regular family home. Beige and symmetry are two things that do not sum up our aesthetic…  We serve the whole of London, but being based in NW10 our focus is NW6, NW2 and NW10.’

bornTips when looking for a designer or tradesman?

‘After establishing you like the company’s website – such as www.bornandbredstudio.co.uk which shows some of our finished projects and testimonials – a rapport is essential. Trust is key in this relationship, in order for both parties to achieve the best results. After establishing a look you agree on, in most cases the client might not need to have any other input apart from when they get the final ‘reveal’.’

What should be on our wish list for this time of year?

‘In the new year, most of us have plans from cleaning the cupboards to major house projects. Start with the small victories like the kitchen drawer – I have no idea why, but it feels so cleansing! Be mindful as to what you actually need. Clutter makes our homes individual but it needs an edit from time to time to get clarity. Write a list, room by room. Establish what’s achievable with your time frame and resources. If you need help, do your research and get free consultations and quotes. Set time frames on how soon your plans can become a reality.’

Great sources of inspiration?

‘Pinterest is a one-stop shop for inspirational finds. We ask all our clients to select three images of rooms/looks that both partners agree on. Think about your favourite bar/restaurant/hotel the reason why you like it and how you can recreate that feeling in your home.  See www.pinterest.com/bornbredstudio (see screen grab, below). Once you start to analyse your ideal space, you can pick out the key points that are realistic to create in your home. This also encourages you to focus on what you actually want. It’s surprising how many people who want a new home have no idea about how to stamp their personality on it.’


Key interiors and homeware trends for 2015

50 shades of grey – in terms of colour, grey is here to stay, in all its hues. It’s the new magnolia and with so many tones it can work in all aspects of your space. Navy and rich midnights are also key trends. Beautiful rich classic colour that encompass a homely cocoony feeling (see Pinterest board, above).

Tainted love – in recent years we’ve seen copper shine through as the metal of choice. The beauty of interiors is the trends move a lot slower than fashion. Copper will still be around but in a burnished way, with metallic accents such as in hand-worked pottery. The less showy and polished, the more earthy, homey and chic right now.

Broken in – the move away from formal and polished looks continues (think high-gloss and Corian of the Noughties) to a more lived-in environment, with a focusing on the simple things. Materials from the earth such as wood, marble, stone, both new or reclaimed. We still have a fascination with used homewares that have a patina or a story to tell. It’s these pieces that make a spaces truly unique, which are often easier on the budget too and, gratefully, on the environment.

Whether you want to breathe new life into one room or have the whole house revived, Born & Bred loves designing spaces that are personal to you and yours. Get in touch about arranging a free 45-minute consultation; email info@bornandbredstudio.co.uk or ring Lisa on 07732 605003; www.bornandbredstudio.co.uk


Personal trainer – Maciej Gross from Locomotive

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Reiki: touched by the hand of Katie Light

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The storytellers

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Charlotte Packe lights up our lives

September 16, 2014

In Queen’s Park Design District during London Design Festival, Charlotte will be showing her lights at 9 Lonsdale Road NW6… Lighting designer Charlotte Packe lives in Queens Park and and runs her lighting studio here. Her long-term collaborations are with our favourite stylish places to stay, Firmdale Hotels has seen her designing and fabricating custom lights [...]

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Lexi makeover: new bar, same magic

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