Our culturally diverse community features a vibrant assortment of social housing, million-pound homes and everything in between. Dartmouth Park is an overwhelmingly residential district and much of it is designated a conservation area under the provisions of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, more information is available from the Dartmouth Park Conservation Area Advisory Committee.
Housing is predominantly detached, terraced and semi-detached homes, late Victorian and Edwardian mansion flats (notable examples include Brookfield Mansions and the blocks in Lissenden Gardens), with some Georgian buildings including Grove Terrace on Highgate Road, and post-war housing developments such as Haddo House and the Whittington Estate/Highgate New Town. See Dartmouth Park History below for more details.
Dartmouth Park’s western edge nudges Parliament Hill Fields and Hampstead Heath, inner London’s biggest and wildest open space. More greenery is to be found at the summit of Dartmouth Park Hill, where Waterlow Park includes tree-lined walkways, ponds and the magnificent Lauderdale House, built in 1582 for Sir Richard Martin, a Lord Mayor of London.
The nearest underground stations are Tufnell Park and Archway, both on the Northern Line.
A wide range of shops, pubs, cafés and restaurants can be found along Chester Road, Highgate Road, Swains Lane and York Rise, together serving the community’s day-to-day needs.
Dartmouth Park History
Dartmouth Park was named after the Earl of Dartmouth, who purchased the land in the 18th century. In the late 19th century, the fifth Earl initiated the first in a series of waves of house building that have continued to contribute to the diversity of residential accommodation and amenities in the area.
The Holly Lodge Estate is located on the site and grounds of a villa built in 1798 by Sir Henry Tempest. The estate included Traitor’s Hill, where members of the gunpowder plot reputedly met to watch the Palace of Westminster blow up (a rumour now discredited).
In 1809 a young actress, Harriot Mellon, took over the lease of the villa, by now known as Holly Lodge. She married the banker Thomas Coutts in 1815 and enlarged the house and grounds by buying adjacent properties. Mellon died in 1837 and left the house and her fortune to Coutts’ granddaughter, Angela Georgina Burdett, who was required to take the name of Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts and, between 1849 and 1906, Holly Lodge became renowned as the rural retreat of one of the most remarkable women of the 19th century. The estate provided a venue for grand galas and festivities, with regular visitors including Queen Victoria, the Duke of Wellington and Charles Dickens.
Widely known as ‘the richest heiress in England’, Angela Burdett-Coutts was a great collector of paintings, including many Old Masters, but spent the majority of her wealth on scholarships, endowments, and a wide range of philanthropic causes. One of her earliest philanthropic acts was to co-found, with Charles Dickens, a home for young women who had ‘turned to a life of immorality’. With the welfare of children and animals particularly at heart, she played a large part in the early stages of both the NSPCC and the RSPCA.
In 1871, Queen Victoria created Burdett-Coutts a Baroness in her own right, and Baroness Burdett-Coutts of Brookfield and Highgate in the County of Middlesex was the final modification of her name. On hearing of her death in 1906, King Edward VII is reputed to have said that, after his mother, the Baroness Burdett-Coutts was the most remarkable woman in the kingdom.
After her death, Burdett-Coutts’ husband tried unsuccessfully to sell the property, and it was not until 1922, after his own death, that even outlying parts of the estate were sold. Eventually, in March 1923, the remainder of the estate was sold for £45,000 and resold at the same price later that year to London Garden Suburbs Limited. Construction of the first houses, on Bromwich Avenue, was started by the Central London Building Company Limited later that same year.
The former ‘lodge’ was demolished during the building of the new roads of houses and mansion block flats, and no trace of the building remains other than a plaque at the entrance to the gardens. The common parts of the Holly Lodge Estate are owned by the freeholders, and managed by a committee of volunteers dedicated to the preservation and protection of the area’s physical fabric. The mansion block flats and the land they sit directly on are managed by London Borough of Camden.
Burdett-Coutts created Holly Village, a unique Grade II* listed Gothic Revival development of 4 detached and 8 semi-detached homes, on land she overlooked from her villa. It is said that Charles Dickens helped with ideas for developing the vision of ‘model housing’, designed by her favourite architect, Henry Astley Darbishire (who was also architect for the Peabody Trust from 1863-1885). The buildings surround a large central lawn and two circular grass terraces and feature intricately detailed stonework and wood carving, with gables, pinnacles, ornamental chimneys and turrets that rise above dense perimeter hedges and lattice wood fencing. The diamond-shaped Coutts coat-of-arms appears prominently in Portland Stone on each building and over the entrance archway inscribed ‘Holly Village Erected by A.G.B. Coutts A.D. 1865’.
St Anne’s Church, Brookfield was erected by Anne Barnett on what was once the site of the Cow and Hare Inn on Highgate West Hill. Built in the Early English style and dedicated in 1853, the church features pointed arches, quadripartite ribbed vaults, lancet windows and a peal of bells given by Baroness Burdett-Coutts. John Betjeman, poet laureate, who was baptised in the church, wrote of it:
In Highgate days that gap was yawning wide,John Betjeman
But awe and mystery were everywhere,
Most in the purple dark of thin St. Anne’s.
The first buildings on the Highgate Newtown Community Centre site were the St Anne’s (Brookfield) National Schools, built in the early 1870’s on land donated by Baroness Burdett-Coutts, to a Gothic design by church architect John Pollard Seddon of Grove Terrace. The school closed in 1947, to be replaced by a Territorial Army Centre. The buildings were later used as training workshops for prisoners from Pentonville Prison. In 1981 it was taken over by the community and, with the help of voluntary organisations and a committee of local people, became a thriving centre of local life.
Highgate Library, Chester Road, now a Grade II listed building, was the first public library in St Pancras (now Camden). Opened on 18 October 1906, the £4,000 required to build it was given by Baroness Burdett-Coutts and Andrew Carnegie, and the site was provided by the Duke of Bedford. The Friends of Highgate Library (FOHL), set up in 1995 by local volunteers, aims to protect, support and promote use of the library.
Amongst the developments initiated by the London County Council (LCC) to subsidise public housing and deliver ‘homes fit for heroes’ after the First World War, was the Brookfield Estate built at the Eastern end of St Alban’s Road – including Kingswear Road, Croftdown Road and part of Chester Road – between 1922 and 1930. Designed for St Pancras Borough Council by A.J. Thomas, Lutyens’ principal assistant, the development of flats, maisonettes and cottages was designed to resemble a garden suburb with a rural feel and generous gardens.
Following World War II, social housing continued to make a significant contribution to the character of the area. The Camden Borough Architect’s Department of the 1960s, led by Sydney Cook and featuring the talents of people such as Neave Brown, Peter Tábori, Gordon Benson, Alan Forsyth and Bill Forrest, initiated a series of innovative residential developments across the borough, including the Whittington Estate, which continue to inspire students of design and have featured in architectural magazines ‘from Paris to Japan’.