Seminal Middlesex domestic architecture

(As always indebted to various Pevsner books, including his  Pioneers of Modern Design  Penguin 1975)

Grims Dyke, Old Redding, Harrow Weald, HA3 6SH 1872 From Pevsner’s ‘Middlesex’  ‘The Italian and Gothic Revivals were followed by what the time itself called the Domestic Revival, that is a free adaptation of Tudor forms with picturesque many-gabled compositions and the warm and rich effects of much ornamental tile-hanging and half-timbering. Harrow Weald possesses a gem of that style … originally built for a popular R.A. genre painter, Goodall, and later the home of W. S. Gilbert (of Gilbert and Sullivan).’ Gilbert in fact died in the lake of Grims Dyke on 29 May 1911 when he suffered a heart attack while giving a swimming lesson to two local girls. Now a hotel.

8 Private Road, Enfield EN1 2EH  1883 Grade II listed, but cream exterior paint and pebble dash have blurred what Pevsner calls an ‘early and notable’ example of an architect, Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo, a pioneer of Art Nouveau, breaking away from the dominant neo Queen Anne Style, with its flat roof and few horizontal windows on the first floor.

14 South Parade, Bedford Park, Chiswick W4 1JU 1891: the first house built by Charles Voysey: ‘amazingly independent’, says Pevsner, partly in the arrangement of the windows, and ‘the whiteness of the walls was an open protest against the surrounding red brick of (Norman) Shaw’s garden suburb. The tower-like tallness of the house also and the skipping rhythm of bare walls and horizontal window openings were innovations introduced deliberately and not without a youthful sense of mischief.’ There’s more ahead-of-his time Voysey at Annesley Lodge in Platt’s Lane on the fringes of Hampstead NW3 7NR which the architect built in 1895 for his father.

Highpoint I and Highpoint II, Highgate N6 4BA (1935 and 1938 respectively) Prototype high rise by Berthold Lubetkin , built for Sigmund Gestetner, the office equipment manufacturer. Rather like Hampstead Garden Suburb this was a social experiment that ended up being lived in not by Gestetners shop floor employees but by middle class tenants.  A high building (seven storeys) at the summit of one of the highest hills overlooking London, Le Corbusier said that for a long time he had ‘dreamed of executing dwellings in such conditions for the good of humanity. The building at Highgate is an achievement of the first rank.’ Pevsner: ‘Still the best example in London of the right siting of such super-blocks of flats … The gardens and views to the W and the old trees close to the E fronts create a scene from which the sheer rectangularity of the buildings receives the necessary relief.’ Pevsner especially likes the porch of Highpoint Two with its reproduction Erechtheum caryatids creating ‘a case of surrealism in architecture, that is of the familiar made fantastic by a surprise setting.’

1-3 Willow Road Hampstead NW3 1TH 1939 by Ernö Goldfinger the architect of Trellick Tower. Goldfinger built the terrace of three houses with the centre one for himself and his family; they’d previously been tenants at High Point.  The modernist houses replaced country cottages and roused objectors who included Ian Fleming who retaliated, to Goldfinger’s unamusement, by using his name as the celebrated Bond villain. Goldfinger explained in the national press that he intended to be in keeping with the Georgian surroundings, and Pevsner agrees: ‘by the use of brick and by sheer scale the terrace goes infinitely better with the Georgian past of Hampstead than anything Victorian’

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