The Early Estate

Holly Lodge Estate is an estate located on the site and grounds of a villa built in 1798 by Sir Henry Tempest on the south-facing slopes of Highgate, London adjacent to Highgate Rise, now known as Highgate West Hill. The estate lands included Traitor's Hill, reputedly where members of the gunpowder plot had met to watch the Palace of Westminster blow up although since known to be false. This villa was later to be known as The Holly Lodge and in 1809 a young actress, Harriot Mellon, took over the lease on the property. She married the banker Thomas Coutts in 1815 and enlarged the house and grounds by buying adjacent properties. The grounds were landscaped by John Buonarotti Papworth in 1825. When Harriot Mellon died in 1837 she left the house and her fortune to Mr Coutts' granddaughter, Angela Burdett.

 

Between 1849 and 1906 Holly Lodge became world famous as the rural retreat of one of the most remarkable women of the 19th century with grand galas and festivities taking place in the house and the meadows. Queen Victoria and Charles Dickens were both regular visitors to the estate.

Angela Burdett-Coutts had married in 1881 and after her death her husband put the property on the market. Being four miles (6 km) from the City it failed to sell and in 1907 was put on the market again, divided into several lots. It still failed to sell and it was not until 1922, after the death of her husband, that even outlying parts of the estate were sold: South Grove House and Holly Terrace to the North (the latter mostly unchanged in appearance since then) and Brookfield Stud to the south (now replaced by housing). Eventually, in March 1923, the remainder of the estate, advertised as and subsequently always referred to as the Holly Lodge Estate, was sold for £45,000 and resold at the same price later that year to London Garden Suburbs Limited with the building of the first road of houses, on Bromwich Avenue, being 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 no trace of the building now remains, apart from a plaque at the entrance to the gardens taken from the north wall.

Initially, the plan was to build houses on the entire estate but due to slow sales and the need for drainage from the higher ground the land to the east of the new central road was acquired by the Lady Workers' Homes Limited to build blocks of rooms for single women moving to London in order to work as secretaries and clerks in the city on the Eastern side of the estate. The local Alderman and others involved in the project are commemorated in an inscription on the ornamental pond in the central garden area.