A friend from school days remarked that the picture of roses from Dollis Hill I had uploaded on Facebook yesterday were probably the only things worth looking at in that area. Certainly one doesn’t make a beeline to this part of London when landing in the metropolis.
However, for at least two persons, prime minister Gladstone and writer Mark Twain, Dollis Hill was a beautiful stretch of the city where they could find peace and relaxation in Lord Tweedmouth’s farmhouse situated in what, since 1899, is now Gladstone park. Indeed, Mark Twain wrote that he had ‘never seen 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 circuit’s throw of the metropolis of the world.’
Sadly the farmhouse was left abandoned in 1989 and that is fatal for so many properties in London. Vandalism and fire (the third in 2011) took its toll and, despite strong campaigning, the property which had given solace to so many distinguished people (including Winston Churchill, who held his war cabinets there) was finally demolished, thanks to Boris Johnson’s withdrawal of funds, in 2012. What a shame! Now there is just an outline of non-original bricks to show the extent of this historical venue.
Gladstone Park, however, remains as lovely as ever. With its avenue of oaks, its wildlife woods, its duck pond, its memorial to victims of concentration camps, its pleasure garden, its children’s play area and its extensive views a visit to this otherwise unremarkable area of London is certainly worthwhile.
(Incidentally, Dollis Hill helped save the country from the tramp of jackboots, for nearby, at the Post Office research station, was built the computer used at Bletchley park to break the Nazis enigma code and help hasten the end of WWII.)