Auburn Lodge


Auburn Lodge, 32 Victoria Road, Kensington W8


Ralph Winwood Robinson, Thomas Oldham Barlow, July 3, 1888, published 1892

After some penurious early years spent in lodgings in Belgravia, Thomas Barlow and his family had settled by 1871 at Auburn Lodge, a commodious house in Victoria Road, Kensington. Convenient to Kensington Palace, the house had previously been occupied by Thomas Uwins RA (1782–1857), Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures; the painter Edward H. Corbould (1815–1905), royal drawing master (tutor to Queen Victoria’s children), lived just down the road at no. 52. Auburn Lodge (then no. 38a) was a four-story terraced house built around 1845. Barlow enlarged some of the rooms and windows and eventually added two studio-flats behind the house, at the corner of St. Alban’s Grove.

Barlow’s move to Victoria Road marked an elevation in status, for the road, according to William Spencer Clark, writing in 1881, was “noted for being inhabited by artists of high standing, and its villas are certainly beautiful miniatures themselves.” Today it is known as the most expensive street in the United Kingdom: in 2015, property values averaged £8 million. The actor Dustin Hoffman owns a house there, along with the former king of Malaysia and various overseas investors and American financiers.

In the 1871 Census, Barlow identifies himself as an “Historical Engraver” (erroneously transcribed as “Historical Engineer”), head of a household containing his wife, Ellen, also from Oldham in Lancashire, and their two daughters, Lucy Jane, age 18, and Mary Ann, 16, both born in London. The Barlows had two servants, a cook and a housemaid. Ten years later Barlow gives his occupation as “Engraver A.R.A.” (this would have been shortly before his ascension to academician); his daughters were still living at home and the household continued to employ a cook and a housemaid. The day the census was taken, the family was entertaining the marine painter James C. Hook, RA (1819–1907), a fellow member of the Etching Club, and his wife, Rosalie.

We cannot be sure exactly where, in Auburn Lodge, the studio was located, though it was probably on the upper floor. Another view of the same room is shown in the portrait photograph taken in July 1888 by Ralph Winwood Robinson.

Barlow died at home on Christmas Eve, 1889, leaving his wife and daughters a comfortable estate of £11,000. He is buried in Brompton Cemetery.

Linda Merrill


Clark, William Spencer. The Suburban Homes of London: A Residential Guide to Favourite London Localities, Their Society, Celebrities, and Associations, with Notes on Their Rental Rates and House Accommodation. London: Chatto & Windus, 1881.

“England and Wales’ most expensive streets: from Kensington to Cobham.” The Guardian (London), December 11, 2015.

London Census for 1871 and 1881, s.v., “Barlow, Thomas O.,”

“Most expensive street is still in Kensington, west London.” BBC News, December 11, 2015,

Walkley, Giles. Artists’ Houses in London 1764–1914. Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1994.

Auburn Lodge