Dollis Hill House was an early 19th-century farmhouse located on the modern-day northern boundary of Gladstone Park.
It was built as a farmhouse in 1825 by the Finch family and later occupied by Sir Dudley Coutts Marjoribanks, who subsequently became Lord Tweedmouth. In 1881 Lord Tweedmouth’s daughter and her husband, Lord Aberdeen, took up residence. They often had Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone to stay as a guest. Other guests at the house included Joseph Chamberlain, Lord Rosebery, and Lord Randolph Churchill, father of Winston Churchill.
In 1897 Lord Aberdeen was appointed Governor-General of Canada and the Aberdeens moved out. When Willesden Urban District Council acquired the house and land in 1899, they named the park Gladstone Park after the old Prime Minister who had died the previous year.
Newspaper proprietor Hugh Gilzean-Reid occupied the house after the Aberdeens moved out, and his guests included the American author Mark Twain, who stayed at Dollis Hill house in the summer of 1900. Twain wrote that he had "never seen any place that was so satisfactorily situated, with its noble trees and stretch of country, and everything that went to make life delightful, and all within a biscuit’s throw of the metropolis of the world." "There is no suggestion of city here; it is country, pure and simple, and as still and reposeful as is the bottom of the sea." He later wrote "Dollis Hill comes nearer to being a paradise than any other home I ever occupied".
The house was opened to the public in 1909, but it was used as a hospital during the First World War. In the Second World War, Winston Churchill’s War Cabinet met there during 1941. The original Red Cross Flag, that flew over the House, when it was being used as a hospital was laid up in the nearby St. Catherine’s Church, where it still hangs, together with a memorial plaque.
From 1974 the house was used for training courses for catering students, until it was closed in 1989. Two major fires in 1995 and 1996 damaged the house badly, and from then onward it remained derelict. On February 20, 2011, a third fire broke out in the basement of Dollis Hill House. Dollis Hill House Trust worked to find a solution in accordance with Brent Council’s stipulations, teaming up briefly with social enterprise. When funding failed, the Council declared its intention to initiate an application for demolition.
In April 2011 Brent Council announced that all attempts to save Dollis Hill House had failed, and that they had been given permission by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to demolish the building.
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Dollis Hill tube station lies on the Jubilee Line, between Willesden Green and Neasden. Metropolitan Line trains pass though the station, but do not stop. The station is about 25 minutes from central London in Travelcard Zone 3. The station opened on 1 October 1909 as part of the Metropolitan Line.
The Dollis Hill Estate was formed in the early 19th century, when the Finch family bought up a number of farms in the area to form a single estate. Dollis Hill House itself was built in the 1820s.
William Ewart Gladstone, the UK Prime Minister, was a frequent visitor to Dollis Hill House in the late 19th century. The year after his death, 1899, Willesden Council acquired much of the Dollis Hill Estate for use as a public park, which was named Gladstone Park.
Mark Twain stayed in Dollis Hill House in the summer of 1900. He wrote that ’Dollis Hill comes nearer to being a paradise than any other home I ever occupied’.
The code-breaking Colossus computer, used at Bletchley Park during the Second World War, was built at the Post Office Research Station in Dollis Hill by a team lead by Tommy Flowers. The station was relocated to Martlesham Heath at the end of the 1970s.
A World War II bunker for Winston Churchill called Paddock is located here.
The fictional Dollis Hill Football Club features occasionally in the British satirical magazine Private Eye, and Dollis Hill tube station, although real, is frequently played in the radio panel game Mornington Crescent.
LOCATIONS ON THE UNDERGROUND MAP
Dollis Hill: Dollis Hill tube station lies on the Jubilee Line, between Willesden Green and Neasden. Metropolitan Line trains pass though the station, but do not stop. The station is about 25 minutes from central London in Travelcard Zone 3. The station opened on 1 October 1909 as part of the Metropolitan Line. Dudden Hill Farm: Duddenhill (Duddinghill) Farm lay on Dudden Hill Lane north of Willesden.
NEARBY STREETS AND BUILDINGS ON THE UNDERGROUND MAP
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