Spitalfields sleepovers

Unless you happen to belong to the ranks of the mega rich, buying a lovely former weaver’s home in Spitalfields is probably pretty much out of the question these days. But the good news is that you can take a short break in one. Both the Landmark Trust – who specialise in restoring historic buildings for holiday lets – and the owner of 5a Fournier Street currently have lovely Spitalfields residences available for short stays. The Landmark Trust’s 13 Princelet Street held on open day recently (which they do annually), so I can show you some of what’s on offer.

Princelet Street was amongst the first streets to be developed in Spitalfields (circa 1705-1720), and was home to some of the most prosperous residences in the area. Number 13 (previously known as number 21) was initially built and leased by a stonemason in 1718-19, but was later inhabited by silk weavers. When Peter Lerwill – who bequeathed the property to the Landmark Trust – bought the property in 1984 it was in a sad state, but happily still retained its eighteenth century layout and much of its original joinery. Lerwill’s substantial restoration project meant that by the time the property came to the Trust they had little to do to it other than a spot of basic re-decoration, which has included a nice line in photos, maps and illustrations of the area.

Another particularly attractive feature of the house – in addition to its wonderfully sloping wooden floors and staircases – are the fascinating views of the old neighbourhood that can be glimpsed through many of the windows. And I have to mention the fireplaces with their delft tiles. The Princelet Street property has one double bedroom (with ensuite) and two twin bedrooms, as well as ample sitting and dining areas on the ground and first floors. Prices vary over the year, but upcoming prices listed online include £838 for four nights in December and £644 for the same in February. And remember that as the property sleeps six you could share the expense amongst six adults.

5a Fournier Street is also a former weaver’s abode, dating from 1720, and featuring similar period details, such as wood panelling and floorboards, while also containing direct views of Christ Church just across the road and an old weaver’s loft. There are two bedrooms, one with a double bed, the other a four-poster king-size bed. Rates range from £600 for four people for three nights.

Another option: 5a Fournier Street, with Town House at number 5.

5a is located directly above Town House at number 5 Fournier Street, which contains a lovely shop, small gallery and coffee and cakes. Well worth a look in its own right for its discerning stock and excellent coffee, it also offers you another glimpse into an old Spitalfields home – grabbing an espresso in the basement kitchen feels much like hanging out at a friend’s house. The gallery is currently featuring an exhibition of striking black and white photographs of the Square Mile by Anthony Jones (on until 21st October), so now is an excellent time to drop by.

This is history that you can live in – if only for a short while!

Landmark Trust Princelet Street

5a Fournier Street/Stay in Spitalfields

Town House

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Turner’s House

The Londonphile has been out to Twickenham again, this time to visit Sandycoombe Lodge, the former house of Britain’s renowned landscape painter, JMW Turner. This fairly modest Regency house in St Margarets is thought to have been designed by Turner himself, with a little help from his close friend John Soane. Today, Turner’s former abode is surrounded on all sides by houses, but it once sat on a plot of land that stretched all the way to the Thames, where Turner strolled, went fishing and gained inspiration.

Turner bought the plot of land in 1807 as a country residence for himself and a permanent residence for his father, Old William, a Covent Garden barber and wigmaker who had long had a hankering to play farmer. The house itself was not built until 1812. Although his father generally maintained both the house and garden for him, it was Turner himself who snuck into Pope’s nearby derelict villa to steal a cutting of the poet’s famous willow tree for his own garden. Some lovely Soanian touches are still evident in the curved walls and decorative roof light in the stairwell.

Turner’s father also looked after his son’s West End studio – it’s not known for sure whether Turner had a studio at Sandycoombe Lodge, but at the very least he would have sketched here. Old William lived at Sandycoombe Lodge – his quarters were mainly in the basement area – until poor health forced him to return to central London. Even today the house is clearly still very damp. Interestingly, Turner’s mistress and two daughters never visited this house. After his father’s departure, Turner sold the residence in 1826 for £500.

Having served as a secret factory during the war (producing pilots’ goggles), the house was bought by one Professor Livermore in 1947, who was interested in preserving it as Turner’s former home. He certainly undertook very little modernisation during his time and the house is now awaiting a substantial restoration, overseen by Turner’s House Trust. This means that current visitors are allowed a rare opportunity to see the ‘before’ picture of what promises to be a significant project.

Sandycoombe Lodge has been open on the first Saturday of the month since April and will have its last opening of this year on the 6th of October from 10am-1pm (last entry 12:30). £4 gets you an informative guided tour of the premises. It will also be open for free guided tours as part of Open House on the weekend of 22nd and 23rd of September, from 10am-3pm both days, on a first-come, first-served basis. The Trust is still seeking donations towards restoration and maintenance so do get in touch if you can help out at all, or show your support by paying a visit.

2013 update: this year the house will be open on the first Saturday of each month from April-October. 10am-12:30pm, no booking required, and still only £4! It will also be open 10-12:30 on Saturdays June 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th as part of the Twickenham Festival.

http://www.turnerintwickenham.org.uk/

http://events.londonopenhouse.org/Building/2961

City residential church towers

Fancy living in an old church tower? The towers that have been converted into homes must surely be amongst some of London’s most unusual residential options. The City’s churches have taken quite a battering over the years – once numbering over a hundred, 35 were lost in the Great Fire of 1666, while many of those which were painstakingly rebuilt afterwards were again damaged or destroyed during the Blitz. In between these two catastrophic events, yet more were demolished from the late eighteenth century onwards. The towers of a number of these lost churches were saved and put to new uses – while the conversions into commercial premises are more obvious, some have also been turned into rather intriguing private residences.

Christchurch Greyfriairs on Newgate Street (above) was damaged in the Great Fire and rebuilt by Wren between 1684 and 1704, only to be destroyed during the Blitz. Luckily the tower survived and was restored in 1960, along with the urns that now grace it which had been removed in the nineteenth century. The area that was once part of the body of the church is now a garden, which has been planted to follow the lines of its original layout, pews and pillars. The rebuilt Vestry House adjoining the tower is now a dental practice, while the tower is indeed somebody’s home (with the rather flashy front door at the top of this post) – you can see their dining area from the garden.

No doubt visitors to Wood Street over the years have pondered exactly why there is a lone church tower standing in splendid isolation in what is now the middle of a traffic island (directly across from the police station, you can’t miss it!). St Alban Wood Street (pictured above and below) was also rebuilt by Wren after the Great Fire – sadly it was destroyed on a single night during the Blitz, 29th of December 1940. Wren’s gothic-style tower survived – a glance through its doors reveals an entry foyer (when the wooden doors aren’t locked) and old stairs leading to the residence above.

I’ve heard that the tower of St Mary Somerset on Upper Thames Street is also somebody’s home, but I’m not so sure. It looks pretty desolate and boarded up to me. Another church that Wren rebuilt after the devastating fire of 1666, St Mary’s was not a victim of the Blitz. Instead it was scheduled to be demolished in the nineteenth century as it was deemed no longer necessary due to low attendance rates. Fortunately someone recognised the beauty of Wren’s wonderfully intricate Baroque pinnacles (seen below) and the tower was saved. The good news is that there appears to be some work being done on it – so maybe there could be some vacancies coming up…

If you’d like to discover more about the City’s lost churches try Gordon Huelin’s book Vanished Churches of the City of London (available at the Guildhall Library for only £5), which lists 69 vanished churches in total.

St Mary Somerset

Christchurch Greyfriars

Paleys upon Pilers

Next time you find yourself in the vicinity of Aldgate tube station take a moment to investigate this intricate wooden structure floating above the streets. This marks the location of the City wall’s easternmost gate – Aldgate. The original gate once included a small house above it, which was home to the poet Geoffrey Chaucer from 1374 to 1386.

This new structure – named Paleys upon Pilers (meaning ‘palace on pillars’) was designed by architects Studio Weave. They also took inspiration from Chaucer’s two dream poems, featuring elevated temples, which he wrote while living above the old gate.

The timber – which references the wood used in the old houses of the area – is described by the designers as a kind of ‘timber embroidery’ and it is indeed beautifully intricate. The painted pillars supporting the structure were inspired by designs found in the illuminated manuscripts, and have been gilded with Dutch gold leaf.

Don’t miss the wooden owl – nicknamed Geoffrey – who perches silently in the eaves. Part architectural installation, part historical reference, Paleys upon Pilers is a welcome addition to London’s architecture, and creates fascinating juxtapositions with the various buildings surrounding it. The good news is that although it formed part of the London Festival of Architecture 2012, it is now expected to stay much longer than the three month period originally intended. It can be found very close to Aldgate station, near St Botolph’s church.

http://www.studioweave.com/projects/paleys-upon-pilers-aldgate/

Balfron Tower

You could easily be excused for mistaking – as many people do – Erno Goldfinger’s Balfron Tower for its (slightly) taller, and certainly more famous, younger sibling the Trellick Tower. Balfron Tower essentially became Goldfinger’s dry run for West London’s Trellick, and the two share a number of distinctive features. National Trust’s 2 Willow Road, Goldfinger’s Hampstead home, organised a tour to Balfron last week, so the Londonphile headed off to visit another of London’s brutalist gems.

Balfron was Goldfinger’s first foray into large scale social housing. He’d long had a hankering to design taller buildings, and at 27-storeys Balfron must have really hit the spot. So high was it in fact that for years it was exceedingly popular with pirate radio stations and other illicit communicators, who would place radio masts on its rooftop. Designed in 1963 and built between 1965 and 1967, it forms part of the Brownfield Estate in East London’s Poplar. This is something of a Goldfinger fan’s vision of heaven, composed as it is of not one but two of the architect’s buildings (Balfron and Carradale House) and a third (Glenkerry House) designed slightly later by his studio. All three were named after Scottish villages, in what was apparently a homage to the area’s Scottish connections. The long, low form of Carradale House is currently under wraps (quite literally) as it is being refurbished.

Glenkerry House

Balfron is about to undergo a similar refurbishment and is currently – and somewhat controversially – slowly being “decanted” of its residents by its management group, Poplar HARCA. In the meantime, a number of artists had been invited to live and work in Balfron. One of these artists, Simon Terrill, also created an installation featuring Balfron Tower – now on show at 2 Willow Road – and organised our visit to flat 122 on the 21st floor, whose former residents had left behind more than a little of the detritus of their lives (in addition to leaving on the heating).

Balfron is entered via a concrete bridge – which has been compared to a drawbridge – to the distinctive separate service tower. This detached tower was to become a favourite design element of Goldfinger’s and one which he used again at Carradale (but placed in the middle of the building) and at Trellick (also to one side, but at a 90 degree angle). This service tower contains “all the noisy stuff”, including stairs, rubbish chutes and the two lifts that service the entire structure. One family were moving out when we visited – item by item in one of these narrow lifts; happily, Goldfinger later included an extra lift when designing Trellick. The boiler room can be seen jutting out at the very top of Balfron’s service tower (with its metal boilers reaching for the sky). Balfron has often been compared to a fortress and  – like its brutalist counterpart the Barbican Estate – contains a number of martial and castle references.

The service tower is attached to the main section of the building by seven walkways. This means that lifts do not service each floor, and entry to the flats is via every third floor. So for example, you would travel to the 12th floor to access floors 11, 12 and 13. This feature is also repeated at Carradale and Trellick. The lift foyers contain narrow rectangular windows – which have been likened to arrow slits – that create the interesting pattern on the outside of the tower and afford tantalising glimpses of Balfron’s spectacular views. The flats themselves also have three styles of entry; you might encounter a staircase going up or down immediately upon entering, or you might just enter directly on that level. Those with a staircase down to the flats, like the one we visited, once had a door in one of the bedrooms that led directly to the fire escape (these are now kept locked).

Goldfinger and his wife Ursula rather famously left the leafy confines of Hampstead and moved into Balfron for two months in 1968, primarily for Goldfinger to get feedback on his design from other residents and to give it a test run for himself. They even paid rent! They held parties in their flat – number 130 on the 25th floor – during which Goldfinger would ply his neighbours in the sky with champagne while eliciting their views on Balfron. This feedback was then applied to his design for the Trellick Tower.

Just one of the superb views – possibly to be encroached upon by the new towers in front.

The rooms within the Balfron flats (in number 122 a kitchen, lounge, two bedrooms and bathroom) are quite small and narrow. Not many of the original features survive in number 122 – with the exception of the all-metal light switches and the built-in window boxes – making the interior nothing much to write home about. But the beauty of Balfron is in its exterior, which Simon Terrill likened to a sculpture – although beauty is obviously very much the wrong term for this reinforced concrete jungle. Goldfinger’s colleague James Dunnett spoke of “delicate sense of terror” when referring to Balfron, which seems a far better phrase to apply to it.

P.S. Dear Poplar HARCA,
I have turned down some of the heaters, but I think the one in the kitchen is still on.

Original metal light switch

Should you wish to visit Balfron’s exterior the closest station is Langdon Park on the DLR line. Balfron Tower is often open as part of the Open House Weekend.

2 Willow Road
2 Willow Road are also holding a series of lates on the last Thursday of each month until October (except August). The 25th October late will feature Simon Terrill talking about his Balfron Project. 6.30-9pm, £9.

Simon Terrill

Door entry phone, thought not to be original.

Prince Albert’s Model Cottages

Ever wondered why there is a house in Kennington Park bearing the inscription ‘Model Houses for Families Erected by HRH Prince Albert’? This 2-storey structure was actually one of what has become known as Prince Albert’s Model Cottages or the Prince Consort Model Lodge. Built by the Society for Improving the Conditions of the Labouring Classes (SICLC) – whose name pretty much speaks for itself and of whom Prince Albert was president – for display at the 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park.

The cottage was placed outside of the exhibition’s Crystal Palace so that all could enter for free – and over 250,000 people did so. After the exhibition it was dismantled and re-assembled on the edge of Kennington Park in 1853. At this point, the park was yet to open to the public (after Kennington Common had been fenced off in 1852 following the massive gathering of Chartists seeking electoral reforms there in 1848), and the cottage was the only publicly accessible part. This all changed the following year, when Kennington Park became South London’s first public park in 1854. The gardens around the house were laid out in 1861.

The back of the house - with the added porch.

The back of the house – with the added porch.

The model cottages were designed by Henry Roberts to house four families, with two flats on each level. He envisioned that the cottages would provide suitable accommodation for people from “the class of mechanical and manufacturing operatives who usually reside in towns or in their immediate vicinity”. Each family was designated a living room, kitchen/scullery, three bedrooms and a toilet – but no bathroom, as was still generally the case in houses built in the U.K. at this time.

Source: ‘Plans and Suggestions for Dwellings Adapted to the Working Classes, Including the Model Houses for Families’ (London: the Society for Improving the Condition of the Labouring Classes).

The open staircase provided access to the flats on the upper level – this has since been enclosed, and the doors on the left-hand side side bricked in. A porch had also been added to the back of the cottage when it was moved to Kennington. Along the front of the house, mosaic tiles on the cornices spell out Victoria and Albert’s initials intertwined (and the date 1851), whilst the brickwork on either side of the cottage also features a similar pattern. The house has been the headquarters of Trees for Cities since 2003.

Prince Albert’s Model Cottage is located along the Kennington Park Road side of Kennington Park, between Oval and Kennington tube stations.

http://www.kenningtonpark.org/

Museum of Childhood

Mosaics created by female students from a South Kensington mosaics class.

If you’re interested in architecture then the months of March and April 2012 are a great time to visit the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, as it is holding architectural tours and a small exhibition to celebrate its 140th birthday. I visited this week and was particularly interested to learn more about the museum’s fascinating history and its many links to the Crystal Palace.

The main building at the Museum of Childhood actually started its life as a temporary home for the treasures that were being kept after the 1851 Great Exhibition, held in the Crystal Palace at Hyde Park. Its construction was modelled on that of the Crystal Palace and it is one of the oldest surviving examples of a pre-fabricated iron-frame building. It turned out that the structure was leaky, fluctuated highly in temperature and the roof had almost rusted away by the time it was dismantled – in other words, not the ideal museum storage facility! It was also not popular with locals, whose nicknames for it included the Iron Museum and the Brompton Boilers.

Modern mosaics on the Museum's new facade (2005-2006), in front of the original structure.

When the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A) was complete and the structure no longer required it was offered to any borough in London that would care to use it as a museum. Bethnal Green was the only area to put up its hand, so it was dismantled and transported eight miles to the east by horse and cart in the late 1860s. At this point an architect – James William Wild – was finally called in (the original structure was designed by engineers) to design the new red-brick exterior that was built around the iron structure. Wild had visions of a great learning hub in the east and designed a much larger complex including a school room and library, but like many architectural dreams it was never fully realised. You can see a drawing of how it would have appeared – complete with neo-classical columns – in the current exhibition.

Aware of the area’s working class population, the Bethnal Green Museum initially opened free of charge on three days a week from 10am to 10pm to allow working people the chance to visit. The original collection opened in 1872 and focused on food, animal products and French art from the 1700s, while the museum later hosted a number of important national collections  – such as the National Portrait, Pitt Rivers and Wallace collections – while they sought permanent sites. The museum’s focus on children began to build slowly from the 1920s, and it officially became the Museum of Childhood in 1974 under the V&A directorship of Sir Roy Strong. Don’t miss its lovely collection of dolls houses on the top floor – I’m also a big fan of the Chinese rock gardens and model theatres on display.

'The Eagle Slayer', John Bell

Although a fair amount of the museum’s history is covered in the foyer exhibition, if you can make it to an architectural tour on a Thursday afternoon you will learn even more. For example, the fleur-de-lis iron railings around the museum also came from the Crystal Palace, while The Eagle Slayer statue by John Bell now found in the cafe area was originally exhibited at the Great Exhibition. A fountain from the 1862 International Exhibition also used to be housed in the front courtyard. This was removed in the 1930s as it was breaking down due to the pollution in the area – it was stored off-site for safe keeping and promptly ‘mislaid’. So if you stumble across a large majolica fountain in your travels you know where to return it to…

Architectural tours run on Thursdays in March and April from 3.30-4pm – no need to book, just turn up at the information desk.
The 140th Anniversary display will be on show until the 8th of July.

http://www.museumofchildhood.org.uk/

Fencing from the Crystal Palace

Clissold House

As I approached Clissold House around a bend in the river I was met with the delightful vista above. But no, Clissold House is not located in a peaceful little village in the English countryside but in Hackney (Stoke Newington, to be precise), and I think you will agree it makes for a rather pretty – if somewhat unexpected – picture. Clissold House, which dates from 1793 (architect unknown) and is located in Clissold Park, has recently undergone a £4.46 million restoration courtesy of Lottery funds, so the Londonphile popped by for a little look-see and a tour of the property.

Eastern side - the front.

The original owner of Clissold House, Jonathan Hoare, chose the site for its proximity to the New River, an artificial river opened in 1613 to bring fresh water to the capital. This once flowed past the house and continued as far as Clerkenwell, and has now been restored and extended to resemble its original appearance. Another spot of artifice is found in the construction of the grassy knoll that the house appears to sit on; this was built up on the western side of the house on top of a series of vaults, which are still used for storage today. This created an architectural oddity, with the house having two storeys on the western side and three on the east. Also a matter of much confusion is the question of which side is actually the front of the house. While important guests were received on the carriageway at the western side, the more restrained eastern side – which looked across to the village and the church (St Mary’s Old Church, not the larger church in the top picture) – was actually the front of the house.

The story of how Clissold House – originally named Paradise House – came into its new name is another intriguing part of the house’s history. William Crawshay, who bought the property in 1811, forbade his daughter Eliza to marry her beloved curate from across the lawn at St Mary’s. So they simply sat and waited, watching each other from across the way, until William died and Eliza inherited the house and married her man: Reverend Augustus Clissold. As they had no children and their family were not interested in the property after their deaths, it was bought first by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and later – following a vigorous public campaign to turn it into a public park – by the Metropolitan Board of Works, who opened Clissold Park in 1889.

Reverend Clissold's view from St Mary's to the eastern side of the house.

As the original plans for the house have yet to be discovered, the recent restoration took place along best-guess lines with regards to layout. The lovely old oak floorboards have been retained, while the highlight is definitely the spiral staircase, which reaches up towards a glass dome. And take a moment to visit the poignant memorial drinking fountain on the northern side of the house – still in use today, and complete with trough for animals at the base – that a Crawshay family member erected in memory of her three young sisters who had died in infancy almost sixty years previously.

Free 30-minute tours of the house were arranged to mark the re-opening, and although they were originally only intended to run for couple of months have proved so popular that they will continue for the time being. As much of the house is now used as a cafe and a community space you can have a mooch around much of it by yourself, though a tour will get you into a few extra rooms and is also worth it for the fascinating story of the house (although there are some information panels in the western cafe if you’d rather do it yourself). I’m told the people at Clissold House still hope to find out more about the property and its history, so if any historians out there stumble across anything do let them know!

Email clissoldhouse@gll.org to book tours; these are generally held on Tuesday and Saturday afternoons.

http://www.hackney.gov.uk/clissold-house.htm

The Barbican Estate

A tower looms above Frobisher Crescent

A tower looms above Frobisher Crescent

If you like your architecture to come with a strong dose of brutalism and lashings of retro styling, then you’ll love the Barbican. The Londonphile is a big fan but I am aware that many are not – the design of both the residences and the Arts Centre that makes up the Barbican Estate has divided Londoners for decades now. Love it or loathe it, the design is a momentous one, and while its groundbreaking use of concrete and brutalist aesthetics makes it a landmark complex, what I find most fascinating are the clever historical and architectural references scattered across the site.

St Giles', London Wall remains, high and low-rise residences and pilotis.

St Giles', London Wall remains, high and low-rise residences and pilotis.

The Barbican Estate was designed to re-populate the City of London, which had a tiny live-in population of just over 5,000 people following World War Two. The area had been so badly damaged during the Blitz that it was little more than a bombed-out wasteland. St Giles’ Church, which can be found in the middle of the complex, was more or less a shell and had to be significantly re-built. So what was once a very old area of London became a very modern one, although this modernity sits side by side with structures like St Giles’ and fragments of the old London Wall.

Contrary to popular belief, the Barbican was not built as social housing – although its architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon also designed the nearby Golden Lane Estate. Now of course its residences are highly sought after – particularly those in the three triangular-shaped towers, which were the tallest residential towers in Europe when built. A series of highwalks connect the area to its surrounds while simultaneously demarcating it as a rare pedestrian oasis in the city – there are no roads within the Barbican. The name Barbican derives from the Latin word ‘barbecana’ meaning a bastion or fortified outpost and refers to the ancient barbecana once situated in this area. The architects have included a number of references to castles, including a crenellated wall, arrow slits and a small staircase tower that resembles a gatehouse along the western side of the complex.

Chamberlin, Powell and Bon also sought to emulate and give a modern twist to West End Squares and European formal gardens – there are eight acres of gardens and lakes across the site, but as many of the larger ones are for residents only they are often overlooked. Frobisher Crescent, meanwhile, is reminiscent of a spa town crescent. A semi-circular motif is repeated across the Estate, and even used in the Arts Centre’s branding, possibly referencing the semi-circular remains of the London Wall near St Giles’. The mediterranean use of barrel vaults (also semi-circular), as seen in Greek island church roofs, was another reference point. The biggest influence – as acknowledged by Powell – on the Barbican’s architects was Le Corbusier. The use of pilotis – the large circular columns holding up the apartments above the lakes being the most notable example of this – is textbook Corbusier. The rounded balconies used on the towers and elsewhere strongly recall the curved lines of his Notre Dame du Haut.

Rounded balconies and barrel vaulted roofs.

Rounded balconies and barrel vaulted roofs.

And if you’ve always wondered why the Arts Centre is mainly located underground, this is because it was a late inclusion in the design and it was hoped this lower postion would prevent noise spilling over into the already completed residential areas. Another concession to the residents was the creation of the conservatory to hide the Barbican Theatre’s very tall fly towers (where stage sets and the like are stored directly above the stage). The section of the tube that runs underneath the lake is the only part of the underground to be supported on rubber bearings – also aimed at noise reduction.

Although planning for the Barbican began in the 1950s, the residences weren’t completed until the early 1970s and the Arts Centre only opened in 1982 (it is celebrating its 30th this year) – giving us some idea of the massive scale of the project. Chamberlin died in 1978 before the Barbican was completed. If you’d like to learn more about the Barbican’s history and architecture I highly recommend taking one of the Arts Centre’s 90-minute Architecture Tours, or the Hidden Barbican Tours, 75-minute behind-the-scenes tours which will take you to backstage areas and up the fly tower. Tours cost £8/6; check the website for details as times vary across the year.

www.barbican.org.uk/tours

Modernist Hampstead

Hampstead has long attracted artists, writers and – yes – architects to its leafy environs. Although perhaps better known for the Hampstead Garden Suburb, and its good stock of Victorian architecture, Hampstead is also home to a number of London’s finest modernist houses. Possibly drawn by the splendid isolation of the hilly zone to the north of London (Hampstead was not integrated into the Borough of Camden until 1965), and undoubtedly by the prospect of Hampstead Heath, in the 1930s Hampstead also had the draw-card of offerring relatively cheap accommodation – as impossible as that is to believe today…

The following photographs were taken on a walking tour of Modernist Hampstead organised last year by the National Trust’s 2 Willow Road (see my earlier post about this property). This is by no means an exhaustive list of Hampstead’s modernist houses, but gives some idea of what is out there and what you could expect if you go on a similar tour (a number of these were run last summer and I expect will run again this year – I’ll keep an eye out for you!). A self-guided walking tour brochure containing most of these houses is also available at the property for a paltry sum. You may also like to visit David Anderson’s excellent site listing modern style housing in London, which has a more extensive listing for Hampstead: http://homepage.mac.com/doive/houses/london.html

Sun House, Frognal Way (1935). Designed by Maxwell Fry.

66 Frognal (1936-37). Designed by Connell, Ward & Lucas.

1-6 Frognal Close (part) (1937). Designed by Ernst Freud.

13b Arkwright Road/The New House (1939). Designed by Samuel & Harding.

49a Downshire Hill (1975). Designed by Michael & Patricia Hopkins as their own residence.

13 Downshire Hill (1936) - on the far left of the photo. Designed by Michael & Charlotte Bunney as their own residence.

1-3 Willow Road (1938). Designed by Erno Goldfinger, with number 2 as his own residence.

Left: 78 South Hill Park (1965), designed by Brian Housden. Right: 80-90 South Hill Park (1956), designed by Stanley Amis, Gillian & William Howell.

Lawn Road Flats/Isokon Flats (1929-32). Designed by Wells Coates.