This annual festival, organised by the church of St Michael and All Angels, has been taking place since 1967. On the Green Day weekend (9th/10th June) stalls selling crafts, food, books and bric-a-brac are set up around Acton Green where there is also a funfair, live music, a tombola, a childrenâ€™s fancy dress competition and football tournaments. On Sunday 10th an Open Air Mass takes place on the Green. Other events during the festival include an Art Exhibition, a Photographic Exhibition, talks, and concerts etc which often take place in Bedford Park houses. Sunday 24th is Open Gardens day, when a dozen Bedford Park residents show their gardens to the public.
History: The arrival of the railways saw an explosion of new housing developments in London’s suburbs. Bedford Park was one such development, but it was one of the most innovative since, unlike most others, its houses were designed by well-known architects; its layout was informal and leafy and its public buildings and activities generated a strong sense of community. The red-brick avant garde architecture made a refreshing change from Gothic and stucco, and its semi-rural feel led to Bedford Park being acknowledged as the prototype of later garden suburbs.
Bedford Park was developed by Jonathan Carr, a woollen merchant turned property speculator, as affordable housing for middle class people with a taste for art and interior decoration. The site’s location was determined by its proximity to Turnham Green Station (opened in 1869), and by family ties – Carr’s father-in-law lived in Bedford House, South Parade. In 1875 Carr bought land belonging to his father-in-law and land nearby.
Carr’s first architect was EW Godwin, the lover of actress Ellen Terry and an architect with good aesthetic credentials, but the houses built to his two designs came in for criticism and in 1877 Carr replaced him with the distinguished R Norman Shaw who is the architect really responsible for the character of Bedford Park. Shaw was succeeded by his assistant E J May in 1880. Other architects involved were the firm of Coe and Robinson, William Wilson and local resident Maurice B. Adams.
Carr’s vision for Bedford Park was the creation of a self-contained community. He commissioned public buildings such as St Michael and All Angels Church, the Bedford Park Club, the Chiswick School of Art and the Tabard Inn. Bedford Park also had its own stores, schools, its own magazine (for just over a year), a voluntary fire brigade and a Vigilance Committee which negotiated matters with the local councils. A lively little community, with an air of ‘cozy comfort’ grew up in Bedford Park with social life centred on the Bedford Park Club. The estate became noted for its free-thinking, `Bohemian’ inhabitants who were said to go around in carpet slippers and be partial to fancy dress balls.
By the middle of the 20th century the Bedford Park houses were becoming dilapidated, some had been unsuitably altered or converted into flats. Several important properties had been demolished and in an effort to prevent more houses disappearing and to preserve the character of the area the Bedford Park Society was formed in 1963. This achieved a statutory listing for 356 of the houses in 1967, following the first Bedford Park Festival, and the declaration of Bedford Park as a conservation area by Ealing and Hounslow Councils in 1969/70.
For more details of the history of Bedford Park consult the Bedford Park Society.