Lissenden Gardens

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R H Tawney and Haydn Wood plaques on apartments in Lissenden Gardens

Lissenden Gardens is a small inner urban area in north London in the London Borough of Camden at the very south east of Hampstead Heath.


Lissenden Gardens was built between 1899 and 1906 by the Armstrong family. Alfred Armstrong was the son-in-law of E. J. Cave, a prolific speculative builder.[1] Alfred had made his fortune first through selling automatic vending machines, then through generating electricity. He was the first to generate electricity in Hampstead.[2] The estate was designed by Boehmer and Gibbs, the architects who were experienced in building middle class blocks of flats in the Hampstead area and working for Cave. Edward Boehmer was American born but had trained in Germany. [2]

The estate consists of Clevedon Mansions, Lissenden Mansions, and Parliament Hill Mansions built round the Armstrong family's private tennis court, mainly in the grounds of their own villa.[3] They built in the fashionable Edwardian period Arts and Crafts style, using red brick, with attention to detail such as stained glass above the front doors and some windows aw well as in the stair columns; hand-made tapered brick aches over the windows; hand-made red clay tiles; and terracotta foliage panels and flower tiles by the front doors. Wrought iron was used for the railings and weather vanes and cast iron in the fireplaces.[2][4]

There were service lifts (some hand operated) to raise coal to the upper floors, a speaking tube with a whistle to allow the residents to attract the attention and then to speak to porters, and rubbish chutes from kitchens to ground floor collection bins.[2][4]

The estate was hit by incendiary bombs in early September 1940 but there were no injuries. On 26 September 1940, a high explosive bomb hit the southern end of Parliament Hill Mansions, destroying 10 apartments served by one staircase (1-10 Parliament Hill Mansions). 13 people were killed, including several children. After the war, the remains of 1-10 Parliament Hill Mansions was replaced by the six-storey Chester Court, built in the utilitarian style by architects Anderson, Forster and Wilcox.[2] The Armstrong family' intention was that residents would be able to move into this block, which has a lift, in old age.

Purchase by Camden Council[edit]

In 1972 the Armstrong family decided to sell the estate through a sealed bid auction. The residents formed a tenants’ association and planned an expert campaign to save the estate. This was a period when many estates were being sold and tenants being persuaded to leave, so that new owners could refurbish them and then rent them at a significantly higher rate. The Lissenden Gardens Tenants Association lost the battle to prevent the Armstrongs from selling privately, in spite of devising the Lissenden Formula, a creative proposal for the Camden Council to buy the estate, but to then allow tenants to buy the leases to their flats. The estate was purchased by Gulindell. Their first act was to put up the rents.[5]

The Gulindell plan was thwarted as the tenants association had discovered a legal loophole that allowed them to resist the rent increases. The Council preparing plans to serve a compulsory purchase order on the Gardens, and the tenants association used this fact to dissuade potential purchasers of vacant flats with an imitation estate agents’ board outside the show flat, warning "‘Caveat emptor’ – buyer beware – the estate was the subject of a compulsory purchase order".[5]

Central government refused to serve the compulsory purchase order in July 1973, but the council retaliated the same month by serving “dangerous structure” notices on the some of the blocks, requiring the owners to carry out urgent repairs. The council thus persuaded Gulindell to sell. On 6 October 1973 council leader Frank Dobson, announced that Camden Council had bought the estate for £2.8 million.[5]

Notable residents[edit]

Location in context[edit]

The neighbourhood is positioned between Gospel Oak to the west, Dartmouth Park to the east, Kentish Town to the south, and Hampstead Heath to the north. Lissenden Gardens lies across NW5 postcode and is served by Gospel Oak railway station on the London Overground and three local buses, namely C2, C11, 214. A footpath runs from the top of the estate directly onto the heath.

See also[edit]

Eileen Armstrong


  1. ^ Baker, T F T, Diane K Bolton and Patricia E C Croot. A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 9, Hampstead, Paddington. Edited by C R Elrington. London: Victoria County History 1989. British History Online, accessed October 15, 2017,
  2. ^ a b c d e "Lissenden Gardens - » Building The Estate". Lissenden Gardens Residents Association. 2010–2017. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  3. ^ "Lissenden Gardens". Lissenden Gardens Residents Association. 2010–2017. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Camden New Journal - Feature - They just don't build them like they used to". The Camden New Journal. 15 February 2007. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  5. ^ a b c "Lissenden Gardens". Lissenden Gardens Residents Association. 2010–2017. Retrieved 15 October 2017.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°33′26″N 0°09′00″W / 51.55709°N 0.14989°W / 51.55709; -0.14989