James Gunter, a successful Berkeley Square confectioner, had bought Earl’s Court Lodge (located at the present junction of Earl’s Court Road and Bolton Gardens) and its land in 1797, thus beginning the family’s accumulation of land which would continue for the next sixty years and would have a profound and lasting influence on the area. The nickname of Currant-Jelly-Hall was given to Earl’s Court Lodge by the Albermarle children living at nearby Earl’s Court House, a mocking reference to the market gardening business built up by James Gunter’s son Robert in the locality.
The area was already famous by the 1740s for its nurseries, market gardens and orchards, which kept London supplied with fresh produce. But it seems to have reached a peak in the 1820s, when we find Robert Gunter being praised for ‘the extent and variety of his production and the progressiveness of his methods….the combined effects of capital, talent and industry’. His innovations included steam-heated greenhouses for tender and exotic fruits.
Robert Gunter’s son, also named Robert, finally removed himself and his family to Wetherby Grange, in Yorkshire, in 1857. He leased Earl’s Court Lodge to the sisters of the Order of Assumption, who occupied the house for some years, until they settled in Kensington Square, where they remain to the present day.