I know. I haven’t published a full post here in a couple of weeks or so. I’d like to make it up to you by showing one of those hidden gems that we usually only know about if:
1. We happen to pass by it;
2. We are told by someone else or read about by chance.
If you like architecture, seeing buildings and gardens, go on reading. Well, go on reading anyway and you’ll see a curious place that I discovered in London recently. There are some pictures too.
Residential areas are usually as dull and boring as they get. This one, near Highgate and Hampstead Heath park is neither.
I sometimes get the impression that I am not in a big city. The usual boring semi detached houses were suddenly obscured by buildings like the one below, majestic in comparison.
So, I ventured a bit closer and found the Holly Village. Apologies for the quality of the pictures, but you can hopefully see what I mean.
The Holly Village consists of eight near-Gothic style buildings which were built in 1865 by Baroness Burdett-Coutts. You know, Coutts, the bank where the Queen has her money. This gated community was originally intended for her senior estate workers and designed by her favourite architect, Henry Darbishire.
Apparently, this area would have been visible by the Coutts’ country house (think it was 1800s!) in Highgate’s West Hill in North London, very close to Hampstead Heath. The Baroness wanted to have buildings that could be enjoyed both as a view and by the future tenants.
This is the same entrance as seen from the inside.
This place is indeed a private residential area, which doesn’t stop the curious passers-by from going in and admiring the place. Residents don’t seem to be bothered by it. Today, it comprises 12 buildings.
Noticed some of the flamboyant detail already? This is an example of Victorian Gothic in a residential complex, which was not the norm at the time. I have read that they used the finest materials here, such as Portland stone, and Italian craftsmen for the carving. The Coutts diamond-shaped coat-of-arms features quite prominently everywhere.
I’d love to visit the houses themselves, partly because they must be amazing if you take into account the many different, and sometimes hidden, details in the vast garden. I mean, if you look after your garden this well, your house might be really nice.
Check the two pictures below.
This is one of the gates. See the woodcarving.
Right at the entrance and under the arch, there are two doors like the one below.
The old estate has long been replaced by mock-Tudor garden suburb which is still called Holly Lodge Estate.
I hope you like it and that I inspire you to visit. Thanks for reading!
A Londoner from Afar