Notting Hill, London
Kensington Park Gardens, Notting Hill
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeKensington Park Gardens, Notting Hill - Credit: David Hawgood

The Line of Beauty is largely set in the Fedden family home, situated in Kensington Park Gardens in the Notting Hill area of West London.

Notting Hill Carnival participant, 2012
Creative Commons AttributionNotting Hill Carnival participant, 2012 - Credit: Kalexander 2010

 Notting Hill is part of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Until the 1980s, it was a fairly run-down district, but over subsequent decades it has become increasingly affluent and fashionable. During the 1950s, the area became home to many Afro-Caribbean immigrants, leading to the establishment of the Notting Hill Carnival, a colourful and sometimes controversial event which takes place at the end of August.

Running almost the length of Notting Hill is the Portobello Road. This is the site of one of London's best-known street markets which sells antiques, bric-a-brac, fruit and vegetables, and clothes.

Notting Hill has been the setting for various films including Performance (1970) starring Mick Jagger, and Notting Hill (1999) starring Hugh Grant. Novels set in Notting Hill include G.K. Chesterton's The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904) and Rachel Johnson's Notting Hell (2006). Johnson's novel, like The Line of Beauty, features communal gardens, which are  characteristic of Notting Hill. The largest of the area's many historic communal gardens is Ladbroke Square Garden, next to Kensington Park Gardens.

 

Ladbroke Square Garden
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeLadbroke Square Garden, Notting Hill - Credit: David Hawgood

Google Map

 

 

The Dordogne, France

Castle of Montfort in the Dordogne, France
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeCastle of Montfort in the Dordogne, France - Credit: dynamosquito
The Fedden family holiday in a manoir located not far from Périgueux, in the Dordogne area of France.

The Dordogne is a department in the Aquitaine region of southwestern France. It corresponds roughly to the former province of the Périgord, and the four distinct areas of the Dordogne are known as the Périgord Vert (the Green Périgord), the Périgord Blanc (the White Périgord), the Périgord Pourpre (the Purple Périgord), and the Périgord Noir (the Black Périgord). The area is noted for its cuisine, particularly for its duck and geese products and its truffles. The Périgord Noir (so-named because of its heavily-wooded landscape) is the site of many prehistoric remains, including the Paleolithic cave paintings at Lascaux. There are also over a 1,000 chateaux and castles at various locations throughout the Dordogne region, many of which have connections with the Hundred Years' War between France and England.

Replica of a cave painting at Lascaux II
Creative Commons AttributionReplica of a cave painting at Lascaux II - Credit: Jack Versloot

 

Périgueux is a commune situated in the Périgord Blanc (so named because of its limestone rocks) and is the main administrative centre of the Dordogne. It has various Roman remains, including an amphitheatre, a temple and a villa. The commune of Périgueux is also the site of the Cathedral of St Front, built during the 12th century and restored during the 19th century.

 

 

 

St. Front Cathedral, Périgueux
Public DomainSt. Front Cathedral, Périgueux - Credit: Olivier2000

Google Map

 

Britain in the 1980s
Mrs Thatcher with Nancy Reagan in 1986 (the year she danced with Nick Guest!)
Public DomainMrs Thatcher (left) with Nancy Reagan in 1986 (the year she danced with Nick Guest!) - Credit: White House Photo Office

The Line of Beauty is set between 1983 and 1987. One defining feature of 1980s Britain was that Margaret Thatcher remained Prime Minister throughout the whole of the decade. In general, the policies of her Conservative government were seen as promoting the attainment of individual wealth at the expense of fostering supportive communities and collective endeavour. Those from different social milieux, therefore, often have conflicting memories of the period, as became clear at the time of Mrs Thatcher’s death in April 2013. For example, reflecting on this period, the entrepreneur Rachel Elnaugh felt that ‘the Thatcher era created a new breed of energised, ambitious wealth creators willing to take their destiny in their own hands. She made Britain great again’. On the other hand the writer and journalist Naseem Khan who, as a young teenager, had first-hand experience of the 1984/85 miners' strike, still associates Margaret Thatcher’s era with feelings of ‘fear, antipathy and a sense of injustice’.

 

National Union of Mineworkers' 'solidarity pack' from the 1984/5 miners' strike
GNU Free Documentation LicenseNational Union of Mineworkers' 'solidarity pack' from the 1984/5 miners' strike - Credit: Mbdortmund

1980:

Michael Foot is elected leader of the British Labour Party;

The decision is made to station cruise missiles at RAF Greenham Common.

 

1981:

Prince Charles marries Lady Diana Spencer;

Riots take place in London and other English cities.

 

1982:

The Falklands War takes place between Britain and Argentina;

Unemployment in Britain reaches 3 million.

 

1983:

Margaret Thatcher is re-elected for a second term as Prime Minister;

An IRA bomb explodes outside Harrods in London, killing 6 and injuring 90.

 

1984:

The miners' strike begins;

Sir John Betjeman, the British Poet Laureate, dies.

 

 

 

Winning idea for AIDS-awareness poster
Creative Commons AttributionWinning idea for AIDS-awareness poster - Credit: idea: Yoshitaka Nakamura; photo: Timothy Takemoto

1985:

Oxford University refuse to give Mrs Thatcher an honorary degree, in protest against education funding cuts;

The miners' strike ends after one year.

 

1986:

Ken Livingstone loses his job after the abolition of the Greater London Council;

The first edition of The Independent is published.

 

1987:

Margaret Thatcher is re-elected for a 3rd term as British Prime Minister;

Government AIDS-awareness campaign, Don't Die of Ignorance, is launched.