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Mapesbury History

Early history and Name

The area formed part of the Middlesex parish of Willesden. In the tenth century the king granted  Willesden to St Paul's Cathedral. Sometime in the middle of the twelfth century St Paul’s divided Willesden into eight  prebends The income from each prebend went to support one of the canons of the cathedral.  Mapesbury was one of these,  taking its name from Walter Map,  who was one of the first prebendaries,  holding office from 1173 until the 1190s.  At that time and for many hundreds of years Mapesbury prebend and manor occupied some 300 acres, almost all the land between Walm Lane,  Willesden Lane and the Edgware Road [Shoot up Hill and Kilburn High Road]. Willesden Lane was known as Mapes Lane until the 1860s.  Until the Reformation this was the route taken by pilgrims heading for the Shrine of the Black Virgin of Willesden.


Except for a few properties on the Edgware Road, Mapesbury manor remained farmland until the 1860s,  when the opening of the North London line in 1860 and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners’ decision to maximise their income by selling their land,   led to  rapid development.

By 1875 there were already a number of large suburban villas in the area,  and the pace accelerated with the opening of the Metropolitan Railway Line in 1879. Building lots were leased for “first class residences”; most of the former manor house farm was leased to builders in 1893,  and Mapesbury Road was constructed in the following year.  At much the same time All Souls College,  Oxford,  which had large land holdings in Willesden,  began to lease the land it owned between Walm Lane and Cricklewood Broadway.  Anson,  Hoveden, Keyes and Sheldon Roads all commemorate former Fellows of All Souls.

The main developments there and in the rest of what was to become in 1982 the Mapesbury Conservation Area took place between 1895 and 1905. Although several builders contributed, the area is remarkably homogeneous,  consisting of red brick  houses with  interestingly varied detailed architectural features.  It is among the outstanding examples in London of a compact area strongly influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement.  

The former manor house lay between Willesden Lane and Deerhurst, Chatsworth,  and Coverdale Roads,.  It  flourished as an up-market training stable for riding horses in the nineteenth century, and struggled on as a family home until 1917.
The house was demolished and  the site redeveloped in the mid 1920s.

Modern local government has no respect for old boundaries.  About half the old Mapesbury manor is now in the Kilburn or Brondesbury Park Wards, and today’s Mapesbury Ward includes a large area which was never part of the manor.