Marsh & Parsons is a firm that can trace its origins back to 1856.
In the mid-Victorian period when the firm was founded, Kensington was beginning to shape itself as a significant centre of Victorian commerce. In 1849 Mr Harrod set up his first Knightsbridge shop, and some 13 years later in 1862 Messrs Harvey and Nichols arrived in Chelsea.
Along with Savills (est. 1855) and Knight Frank (est. 1896), Marsh & Parsons, during much of the 20th century, was one of the leading residential agents in Central London. Today it has 16 offices of which 6 are in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, which is more than any other agent and is the borough’s longest established estate agent. Marsh & Parsons is veritably a "blue chip" heritage brand that has a relevance to every day modern London life.
Marsh & Parsons is an unusual firm; for its first century it was dominated by two families- unsurprisingly- the Marsh’s and the Parsons’; the Marsh’s involvement in the firm commenced in 1856 with the Parsons’s involvement commencing at the beginning of the 20th century and ceasing only in 1956.
In 1856 William T Marsh set up the original firm and traded as William Marsh – later becoming Marsh & Marsh in 1906. This firm was located at 197 Kensington High Street, which today is a very busy branch of Starbucks.
In 1904 Ernest Marsh, a son of W T Marsh, began trading in his own right as Ernest Marsh & Co. Two years later, in 1906, the Parsons end of the equation emerged; Frederick Parsons joined him as a partner and the firm became known as Ernest Marsh & Parsons. In the same year W T Marsh became Marsh & Marsh. One firm traded in Kensington High Street and the other in Kensington Church Street.
In 1932 Marsh & Marsh merged with Ernest Marsh & Parsons and the merged firm became known as Marsh & Parsons. For the next 24 years Frederick Parsons was the driving force of the firm which operated both from 40 – 42 Kensington Church Street and 197 Kensington High Street.
Frederick Parsons served as a Councillor on Kensington Borough Council from 1919 until his retirement in 1956. He was Chairman of the Kensington Church Street Guild which was active in the late 1920s and 1930s. In 1941 he was appointed a Justice of the Peace for the County of London. Moreover, he was also a founder member of the Kensington Rotary Club and was its president for two years.
Undoubtedly, Frederick Parsons involvement in the local community helped consolidate the standing of the firm. A wonderful quote from The Times in 1924 highlighted the successful community initiatives of the Kensington Church Street Guild.
"Councillor F W Parsons, who presided, said they set out in January last, among other things, to attract customers by making the street a riot of colour and a ripple of laughter by the amusing mottoes which they were to have up on their shop windows. They had tidied up the street considerably, and in a few instances an effort had been made towards colour and good lettering."
Marsh & Parsons is immortalised in history due to its interaction with London’s population
However, during the Second World War on June 19th 1944 just before lunch, Marsh & Parsons suffered a bitter blow when a pilotless aircraft dropped a bomb that directly hit the firm’s premises at 40 - 42 Kensington Church Street. The premises were destroyed and Frederick Parsons was injured, along with 2 others. While Frederick Parsons survived, sadly his son Victor who had ironically been injured in Dunkirk and was visiting his father in the office at the time, didn’t survive the bomb.
After the bombing the Marsh & Parsons firm moved to 5 Kensington Church Street where the firm remained until it moved to its present premises on the street, 9 Kensington Church Street.
Marsh & Parsons is immortalised in history due to its interaction with London’s population. An example of this is the following excerpt from a biography of Laurie Lee that demonstrates just how the firm played its part in London life of the 1950’s.
"On Tuesday 17th May 1950 Laurie married Kathy at Kensington Registry Office. Cecil Day Lewis (the future poet laureate) and Jill Balcon were the only witnesses.
After the wedding the quartet fell into the Prince of Wales pub among some dustmen and a newspaper seller...
On leaving, Day Lewis and Jill (future parents of Daniel Day Lewis) looked into the estate agents MARSH & PARSONS, spotted 73a Bedford Gardens for rent, and took it as their first joint home."
Indeed, the interaction in everyday London life continues through each decade and the current British Prime Minister David Cameron bought and sold his first flat in London through Marsh & Parsons.
In 1956 Frederick Parsons retired and sold Marsh & Parsons to Jeffrey Carter.
In 1959 Debenham, Tewson and Chinnocks (estd.1853) acquired 50% of Marsh & Parsons and retained their stake in the business for a number of years. Debenham, Tewson and Chinnocks were the precursor firm of DTZ Holdings.
In 1960 David Marshall joined Marsh & Parsons and he took over ownership of the firm in 1967 with his partner in the business, Niall McMahon.
Between the years of 1969 and 1999 David Marshall extended the firm to include branches in the famous London suburbs of Notting Hill, Brook Green, Holland Park, Chelsea, Bayswater and into North Kensington.
In 2005, the management team led by Peter Rollings and Liza-Jane Kelly acquired the firm jointly with the Irish estate agency group Sherry FitzGerald. At the time Marsh & Parsons had 50 employees and 7 branches all in close proximity.
The following year in 2006, Marsh & Parsons moved out and beyond the Royal borough of Kensington and Chelsea and spread its wings south across the river Thames. This was achieved by the acquisition of Vanstons a firm established in 1979, with 5 offices in Fulham, Battersea, Clapham, Balham and Barnes.
Shortly after its acquisition, Vanstons was rebranded as Marsh & Parsons and all 12 of the combined branches were upgraded by December 2007. Also, in the autumn of 2007, the firm moved to the new 5,000 sq. ft. Head Office in Hamlet House in Hammersmith.
Towards the end of 2007, Marsh & Parsons acquired and refitted a new branch in Pimlico, to add to, and complement the existing branch network.
In 2009, Marsh & Parsons acquired a pivotal lease in Notting Hill, that when combined with its existing premises, gave it a landmark position in the centre of Notting Hill.
In January 2011, Marsh & Parsons stretched its boundary further by opening a new branch in Little Venice close to Lord’s cricket ground.
Later, In November 2011, Marsh & Parsons was acquired by LSL Property Services, one of the UK's leading residential property services companies. Marsh & Parsons continues to operate as an independent brand within the LSL group.
In April 2012 Marsh & Parsons opened its 16th office in Earls Court on the Old Brompton Road. In June of that year, having out grown their Hamlett House Head Office, Marsh & Parsons moved to their current premises located at 80 Hammersmith Road.