Lisson Grove: Art and antiques in this slice of old London
PUBLISHED: 14:45 22 October 2015 | UPDATED: 10:50 24 February 2016
Once defined by slums and industry, the area around Lisson Grove represents some of the best value in Zone 1, with a lively market, antiques galore and a solid art scene
Lisson Grove is situated in the London Borough of Westminster within the NW8/NW1 postal district. It is in the Westminster North parliamentary constituency. The total Council Tax bill which the smallest properties in Band A would expect to pay is £448.50. Properties in the average Band D should receive a bill of £672.74. The most expensive homes in Band H would receive a Council Tax bill for £1,345.48.
The average price of a two-bedroom flat in the area is £796,028 while for a terraced house it’s £1,851,917. Many properties are in the red-brick former tenement blocks that abound in the area.
There are also a number of period terraces and a fair proportion of post-War, local authority development, helping to keep property prices relatively low.
The King Solomon Academy is a large, mixed gender school with both a primary and secondary division. Both were rated Outstanding by Ofsted. St Edward’s RC Primary School is a voluntary aided Catholic school with a Good rating. Secondary options are dominated by fee-paying independent schools. Top of these is Francis Holland, a high achieving girls’ school.
Lisson Grove is situated in zone 1 on the London Underground. The nearest Underground stations are Baker Street, served by the Metropolitan, Hammersmith & City, Circle, Jubilee and Bakerloo lines; and Edgware Road on the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Bakerloo lines. There are many useful bus routes, and those travelling abroad can board the Heathrow Express directly to Heathrow airport from nearby Paddington station.
Landmarks and history
A little-known chunk of central London, Lisson Grove’s closest brush with the big time was probably gracing Audrey Hepburn’s lips when she played Eliza Doolittle in the film of My Fair Lady. Despite its wealthy surroundings, the area’s proximity to the canal and railway lines meant that its history is one of industry and slum life, and Eliza’s declaration that her home in Lisson Grove “wasn’t fit for a pig to live in” would have been pretty standard. In the 19th century the neighbourhood was a byword for poverty, crime and squalor and attracted waves of poor, Irish immigrant workers.
The area remains a slice of old London, with Church Street the biggest shopping draw: the market has been on this site since the 1830s. It’s a lively mixture, with a bargain fruit and veg market at the Edgware Road end (be aware that this is still very much a functional shopping area rather than a farmer’s market and organic produce is still in the minority). Up towards Lisson Grove, traders predominantly deal in antiques from their own shops, or from sites within the comprehensive Alfie’s Antique Market. There is currently a campaign to save the antiques shops from being priced out of the area by rapidly rising rents.
Archive Bookstore on nearby Bell Street specialises in second hand books and sheet music, while Stephen Foster Books is a few doors down selling old and rare books. Bell Street Vintage Wireless London sells an assortment of vintage turntables, radiograms, wirelesses, dansettes, reel-to-reels, amps and mikes.
Eating and drinking
For refreshments there’s a café on the roof of Alfie’s, otherwise head to the Sea Shell of Lisson Grove (above), a classic of the area, which has been selling traditional fish and chips for more than 40 years and attracts a fierce loyalty from a range regulars, numbering locals and celebrities. For flavours from further afield try the Mandalay, a Burmese Restaurant on Edgware Road, where dishes are exotic and very reasonably priced. There are also a wealth of Lebanese and other Middle Eastern cafes and restaurants nearby for a schawarma, fresh mango juice or sticky baclava and coffee at any time of day or night.
Sports, leisure and culture
The Lisson Gallery is one of the most renowned contemporary art galleries in the world, representing artworld luminaries including Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, performance artist Marina Abramović and sculptor Anish Kapoor.
Also on Bell Street is the Mark Jason Gallery, which promotes emerging young contemporary British and international artists.
The Cockpit Theatre is a fringe theatre belonging to the City of Westminster College, which was the first purpose-built theatre in the round since the Great Fire of London on completion in 1970.
There is not much green space in the immediate area (although Regent’s Park is nearby) but Broadley Street Gardens was built on land that was formerly housing in the mid-1970s.
Good for kids
The Four Feathers Youth and Community Centre is a popular resource for children in the area, providing both a quiet homework space complete with computers, printers and tutors on hand, and a range of fun activities ranging from cooking and knitting to trampolining and dancing. They also run various fundraising initiatives, including the Feathers Charity Balls for under 16s, to fund youth support activities throughout London.