Dollis Hill House

Large house in/near Dollis Hill, existed between 1825 and 2011

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Large house · Dollis Hill · NW2 ·

Dollis Hill House was an early 19th-century farmhouse located on the modern-day northern boundary of Gladstone Park.

Mark Twain in Dollis Hill. From Liberal Prime Minister, William Gladstone using it as a summer retreat and legendary American writer, Mark Twain describing Dollis Hill House as ’coming nearer to being a paradise’ than any other place he had lived, the mansion the community fought hard to save, has finally been demolished.
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. In January 2012, Dollis Hill House was entirely demolished, leaving the historic site barren.

In mid-2012 Brent council controversially undertook the building of a folly that followed the old floor plan of the house but utilizing none of the original house fabric or materials.

Citations and sources

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Paul Shepherd
Paul Shepherd   
Added: 16 Jan 2018 15:21 GMT   
Post by Paul Shepherd: Chamberlayne Road, NW10

i lived in Rainham Rd in the 1960?s. my best friends were John McCollough and Rosalind Beevor. it was a good time to be there but local schools were not good and i got out before it went to a real slum. i gather it?s ok now.

Maria Russ
Maria Russ   
Added: 7 Dec 2017 09:46 GMT   
Post by Maria Russ: Middle Row Bus Garage

My mum worked as a Clippie out from Middle Row Bus Garage and was conductress to George Marsh Driver. They travel the City and out to Ruislip and Acton duiring the 1950’s and 1960’s. We moved to Langley and she joined Windsor Bus Garage and was on the Greenline buses after that. It was a real family of workers from Middle Row and it formed a part of my early years in London. I now live in New Zealand, but have happy memories of the early years of London Transport and Middle Row Garage.
Still have mum’s bus badge.

Happy times they were.

John Dye
John Dye   
Added: 1 Dec 2017 14:50 GMT   
Post by John Dye: Cool Oak Lane, NW9

I lived at Queensbury Road, Kingsbury during World War II and used to play regularly along the edge of the Welsh Harp. About halfway along Cool Oak Lane on the south side was a pond we used to call Froggy Pond. It was the only place I ever saw a water scorpion, Nepa cinerea.
At the end of the war, all the street air raid shelters were knocked down and the rubble was piled up on the ground south of the Cool Oak Lane bridge, on the Hendon side. I remember that this heap of rubble became infested with rats and I used to watch them from the bridge. I was told that an old house on the south side of Cool Oak Lane (Woodfield House?) was once owned by the wife of Horatio Nelson. I think it later became the nurseries for plants grown for the Hendon parks.

Julia elsdon
Julia elsdon   
Added: 22 Nov 2017 18:19 GMT   
Post by Julia elsdon: Shirland Mews, W9

I didn’t come from Shirland Mews, but stayed there when my father was visiting friends, sometime in the mid to late forties. As I was only a very young child I don’t remember too much. I seem to think there were the old stables or garages with the living accommodation above. My Mother came from Malvern Road which I think was near Shirland Mews. I remember a little old shop which had a "milk cow outside". So I was told, it was attached to the front of the shop and you put some money in and the milk would be dispensed into your container. Not too sure if it was still in use then. Just wonder if anyone else remembers it.yz5

Irene Whitby..maiden name crighton
Irene Whitby..maiden name crighton   
Added: 17 Nov 2017 22:50 GMT   
Post by Irene Whitby..maiden name crighton: Netherwood Street, NW6

I was born at 63netherwood street.need to know who else lived there.i think I moved out because of a fire but not sure

Added: 24 Sep 2017 22:22 GMT   
Post by Ron: Colindale

The leather business and ’Leatherville’ was set up by Arthur Garstin, not GARSTON.

Debbie hobbs
Debbie hobbs    
Added: 19 Sep 2017 09:08 GMT   
Post by Debbie hobbs : Raymede Street, W10


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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 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.
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