Temple Fortune shops
Where Hampstead Way and Temple Fortune Lane meet Finchley Road, Unwin planned the most impressive of his "gates", consisting of two large blocks of shops and flats, Temple Fortune House and Arcade House. The massing of these splendid buildings, particularly the outside steps and the water tower of Temple Fortune House, recalls the photographs of Rothenburg in Unwin's important book "Town Planning in Practice", published in 1909. The tower is closely modelled on the Markusthurm at Rothenburg, though its relationship to the building is also very similar to one at the Chateau de Chillon at Lake Geneva. Unwin was enormously impressed by the medieval German cities, especially the clear dividing line between town and country which at Hampstead he achieved, as we have seen, in the Great Wall.
As with the Wall, the detailing of the shapes owes a great deal to "early Lutyens" and in this case is probably attributable to the Christian Socialist enthusiast Arthur Penty, then working in Unwin's office. The semi-circular arcades under the projecting wings are typical of Lutyens's "Wrenaissance", as first expressed in St. John's Institute, Westminster (1903), and the series of balconies above, connected vertically by moulded steel balusters, are closely derived from Lutyens's bedroom balconies at Crooksbury (1898) and Tigbourne Court (1899). As always with Unwin's buildings as much attention was paid to the back as to the front - notice the low half-timbered wing with hipped roofs at the back of Arcade House. Penty is said also to have designed Temple Fortune Court, a tall plum-coloured block of flats at the entrance to Temple Fortune Lane, in which the Georgian conventions are enlivened by a bold diagonal chamfering of the gables.
Unfortunately, the rest of Unwin's plan for this entrance to the Suburb was never achieved. He intended an attractive public garden behind Arcade House, with a circular pond, from which Asmuns Way, Asmuns Hill, Temple Fortune Hill and Hampstead Way would be seen to radiate towards the various focal points of the Suburb. Before the garden could be made, the first War intervened; and shortly after it the erection of the range of flats called Queen's Court for the United Women's Housing Association (architects, Hendry and Schooling) blocked off the open space preventing the spatial relationship which Unwin intended.
Hampstead Way earliest houses
Otherwise, Parker and Unwin's artisan housing survives in remarkably good condition. In Hampstead Way the plain roughcast cottages first form a symmetrical group on either side of the entrance to Asmuns Place and then bend round into Asmuns Hill with the two hipped bays of numbers 136-138 closing the view in what Unwin called a "street terminal". The pair of cottages on the corner, numbers 140-142, were the first to be built in the Suburb in 1907 and bear inscriptions commemorating this. A special "press view" was arranged on 7th May 1908 when the Building News reported that 69 cottages were finished and 55 under construction.
Asmuns Place was the first of the culs-de-sac which are the special feature of Hampstead Garden Suburb and have since become taken for granted as a cliché of suburban planning. Unwin felt very strongly that each group of houses should be given its own identity, its own genius loci, and the cul-de-sac made it possible to provide peace and quiet and, in the case of Asmuns Place, a sufficiently large space at the end, enclosed by three groups of three-sided courtyards, to form a satisfactory playground for children. Unwin particularly emphasised in his book the narrowness of the road - a "carriage drive" he called it - which had wide grass verges, since cut back, protected by bollards.
The houses in Asmuns Place start surprisingly with two contrasting roughcast cottages and then continue with uniform terraces in brown stock brick, relieved by dressings in tile, particularly the tiles-on-edge round the archways leading through to the back gardens. The courtyards at the end group delightfully, although the original tree planting has been thinned out and needs replenishing. A footpath connects through to Finchley Road - Unwin was careful to provide these pedestrian connections, so that those living at the end of a cul-de-sac should not feel cut off. Two pretty 'garden houses' for the children were originally designed.
Asmuns Hill and Willifield Green
Asmuns Hill has a series of pairs of roughcast cottages on either side of a longer terrace, set back from the road. Number 31 is an attractive individual cottage with two thin bay windows extending up into a half-hipped gable. Originally the focal point of Asmuns Hill was the tower of the Club House, a brilliant design from Parker and Unwin's office by Charles Wade, which was alas destroyed by bombing in the last war. The tower again was a combination of German massing and Lutyens detail (in this case derived from his clock tower at the Pleasaunce, Overstrand of 1898 and the oriel windows of Fisher's Hill, Woking of 1900.
The Club House, the main community centre of the artisan village, appropriately overlooked a village green surrounded by a particularly fine series of red brick houses, singly or in terraces. Those immediately opposite the Club House were also damaged by bombing and rebuilt in the neo-Georgian style. Those that survive in the four corners of the crossroads between Asmuns Hill and Willifield Way are in a manner deriving from Philip Webb, with austere sigment-headed windows and towering compositions of gables.
In the north-west corner of Willifield Green a pathway leads to a cul-de-sac off Finchley Road, appropriately called Childs Way, which has a small group of cottages by Herbert Welch (1909), facing the large elementary school now known as Garden Suburb School, erected by Hendon UDC in 1912 and designed by W G Wilson, an architect best known for his planned seaside resort at Thorpeness, Suffolk. Dame Henrietta recalls that the Council needed strong persuasion and Wilson had to provide a revised design before a sufficiently open layout was provided. She was particularly insistent that the playground should be extensive, remembering the small school yards of the East End. Wilson's design is handsome, with large stone-mullioned oriel windows to the assembly hall and an elegant cupola.
Willifield Way north end
Willifield Way extends to Finchley Road, the red brick cottages gradually giving way to simpler roughcast terraces. At the top of Hogarth Hill there is a handsome brick pair with three gables and there are two other special houses at the Finchley Road end. Number 188 (Willifield House) is a restrained Georgian house probably attributable to Michael Bunney, and number 858 Finchley Road (Finchley House) is an excellent derivation from Parker and Unwin's dark brick manner with a round-arched doorway and a big hipped roof at each side. It was designed as late as 1929 by J C S Soutar himself and is perhaps his personal best.
Creswick, Wordsworth, Coleridge Walks
To the south of Addison Way, Creswick Walk (1911) is an attractive cul-de-sac designed by G L Sutcliffe (his first in the Suburb). The architecture is characteristically fussier than Parker's, but Sutcliffe had a sure sense of scale in terms of the relationship between families. A short asymmetrical terrace on each side is followed by a pair of three-sided courtyards in whitewashed brick, the end of the cul-de-sac being closed by another three-sided block, with four small hipped roofs as the only strong accent.
A footpath leads from this end to Hogarth Hill, a steep road connecting Willifield and Addison Ways, with more roughcast cottages by Parker and Unwin (1911). Neatly opposite the Creswick Walk footpath there opens off Hogarth Hill another cul-de-sac, Wordsworth Walk (1910-11) by Herbert Welch. Welch, then aged twenty-seven, never did better than in these white walled terraces, with delicate arched hood moulds to the windows enclosing tympana patterned in brick. Only the half-timbered gable at the end now seems self-conscious - Unwin, in spite of his medievalist leanings, was influenced by current American ideals of the "City Beautiful" and liked to provide strong accents symmetrically at the end of each axis.
From the end of Wordsworth Walk, footpaths lead in one direction to Willifield Green and in another to Welch's second cul-de-sac of 1911, Coleridge Walk, a similar design, but this time in brown stock brick, with dressings of dark red brick. Welch's terraces are carefully positioned, first projected forward, then set back, so as to constantly vary the frontage, providing an even smaller sense of identity within each part of each cul-de-sac. There are some tile-hung bay windows, as well as rusticated quoins and the same relieving arches over the windows. Welch had a greater preference for symmetry than Barry Parker.
Where Coleridge Walk joins it, Addison Way has slightly later terraces by Parker and Unwin with more Georgianising detail, including arched tympana over the ground floor windows.
Erskine Hill north end
Erskine Hill leads off steeply to the right, flanked by delightful groups of cottages by C M Crickmer (1911). Like Welch, he never did better in later years. Although the detailing is austere, there is a lively mixture of brick gables derived from Parker and Unwin and narrow bay windows in the form of polygonal turrets.
Down a short drive to the left is the Barnett Homestead, a group of twelve flats for soldiers' widows, given by Sir Alfred Yarrow in 1916 and designed by J C S Soutar. It is as symmetrical as Soutar's Georgian designs although here he adopted a cottage vernacular with dormer windows.
Another short drive to the left, Homesfield, leads to an open courtyard with three detached blocks designed by Parker and Unwin backing on to Little Wood. St. Catherine's and Erskine House were originally semi-detached houses built as children's homes. Adelaide Cottage, although built as an "Eventide Home" for the very old, was surprisingly designed in the most sophisticated Lutyens-Georgian, purple brick, with red brick dressings and very small windows in relation to the great expanses of perfectly proportioned wall. It is a most distinguished building, although it looks more like a public library than a home for the old.
On the right, another footpath connects Erskine Hill with the top of Coleridge Walk. After more houses by Crickmer, Erskine Hill meets the top of Asmuns Hill, and then turns left towards the centre of the Suburb. The short length of Asmuns Hill between Erskine Hill and Willifield Green has roughcast cottages by Parker and Unwin on one side, with weatherboarded dormers, and much simpler cottages on the other side, designed by Arthur Moore, the secretary of the Improved Industrial Model Dwellings Company. This Company, which also built Waterlow Court, had originally been founded by Sir Sydney Waterlow, and had been second only to the Peabody Trust in providing towering slum tenements in the East End in the 'seventies and 'eighties. At Hampstead Garden Suburb they built sixty-five cottages altogether, with frontages to Erskine Hill and Willifield Way, mostly in terraces of ten cottages each. They are much less carefully designed than those by Parker and Unwin, yet the Trust succeeded in imposing the same human scale.
On the other side of the upper part of Erskine Hill there are several pairs of houses by Michael Bunney of the same type with mansard roof and white gables that he also used in Bigwood Road and Willifield Way - his spouthead decorated with a scallop shell is an easily recognisable trade mark. These cottages are interrupted first by Wood Side, also backing on to Little Wood, a cul-de-sac consisting simply of a U-shaped terrace of brick and roughcast, designed by W H Ward (1909). There are three white gables to left and right and two big tile-hung gables in the centre, joined by a segment-headed brick arch. According to The Builder of 1910, they were "intended as residences for superior artisans" - a remark which shows again the knife-edge between class-reconciliation and class-distinction.
Denman Drive and Oakwood Road
Denman Drive begins with a delightful group of cottages, probably all by Parker and Unwin, including two L-shaped terraces of brown brick, with big tile-on-edge arches and patterning in herring-bone brickwork. Originally it was intended to be a "gate", but after further land had been acquired from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, it was extended through to the new part of the Suburb, not shown on Unwin's plan of April 1911, but begun in 1913 by Oakwood Tenants Limited, with G L Sutcliffe as architect. Denman Drive divides in two before descending to Oakwood Road between Big Wood and Little Wood; there are fifty-six cottages, typical of Sutcliffe in the ordinariness of the detailing but the subtlety of their relationship to one another. The walls are of simple roughcast, enlivened by brick quoins and a brick plinth, with simple doors under bracketed hoods. The arrangement of the cottages in relation to the contours, sometimes dropping several feet below the surface of the road, is both precise and relaxed.
Oakwood Road, which extends from the end of Addison Way, at the point where it meets Falloden Way, flanks Big Wood with another subtle sequence of ordinary cottages by Sutcliffe, placed in the Unwin tradition, first forward and then back from the frontage. Particularly good is the symmetrical grouping on either side of the carriageway which runs out from Big Wood and then continues across the road as a pathway over the Mutton Brook to Falloden Way.
Falloden Way itself, now bombarded with heavy lorry traffic, is also lined with admirable small cottages by Sutcliffe, begun in about 1913 and this time in red brick. It was originally treated as part of Addison Way and became the Al only after the construction of the Barnet by-pass to the north-west. Northeastwards, up the hill towards Finchley, Sutcliffe laid out three culs-de-sac, Eastholm, Midholm and Westholm, which were built just before his death in 1915 and formed for some years an isolated spur of the Older Suburb. They still stand out sharply in quality from other post-1920 development. Midholm (1914) was not completed by Sutcliffe - Midholm Close to the north of Hill Top was designed in 1928 by C U Butler. Westholm (1914) must have been the responsibility of a particularly bright assistant in Sutcliffe's office. Not only is the setting back and forward of groups of houses up to Unwin's best standards of establishing identity, but the architectural detailing in brown brick, with black weatherboarded gables and some ingenious double bay windows slung across the corners, is as good as anything by Parker.
There is a similar double bay window in number 90 Falloden Way (1913) which, with its prominent red brick chimney and round-arched door at the corner of Oakwood Road, forms a 'gate' to the Sutcliffe part of the Suburb. Sutcliffe, like Parker and Unwin, was a Northerner - until 1902 he practised with his father in Todmorden - and his work, like theirs, has a gritty common-sense compared with the cosy Picturesque favoured by Southern architects at the time. His premature death was a serious blow to the Suburb.
Erskine Hill Central
Erskine Hill continues with more cottages by Michael Bunney and then to the left there is Chatham Close, a cul-de-sac backing on to Big Wood, designed by T M Wilson (1911), with a mixture of bay windows and gables, and also tile-on-edge arches. Back on Erskine Hill, there is a pair of houses (numbers 16-18) probably by Geoffrey Lucas, and then number 20, a particularly pretty small cottage with a shell-hooded door. At this point Erskine Hill meets Temple Fortune Hill which formed the east-west boundary between the artisans and the individual lease-holders. On the other side of it Erskine Hill continues with the grand series of Lutyens houses culminating in the dome of his Free Church in Central Square.
Temple Fortune Hill
Temple Fortune Hill ends as a cul-de-sac towards Big Wood (the carriageway in fact continues through the wood to Oakwood Road and Falloden Way), flanked by a particularly good group of houses by C M Crickmer. They have clusters of tall brick chimneys set diagonally and joined to narrow vertically accented brick gables, contrasting with long horizontal stretches of white plasterwork in between.
Temple Fortune Hill leads back towards Finchley Road with an important sequence of cottages in white roughcast. First there is a group of white houses, probably by Parker and Unwin (numbers 49-51 and 46-50, and 15 Erskine Hill). They are distinguished by shallow curved bay windows at each end and thin polygonal oriels to the first floor.
Then at the junction with Willifield Way there is, to left and right, a pair of canted terraces by C M Crickmer (designed 1909). They are a most subtle composition of gables and bay windows, carefully arranged so as to provide the "built-up corners" that Unwin wanted, and also effectively closing the vista in either direction up Willifield Way. The other two corners of the crossroads have smaller terraces, evidently by Parker and Unwin, who in c 1907-8 designed the remaining houses which extend down Temple Fortune Hill to Hampstead Way. They consist of simple roughcast pairs, with a three-sided brick courtyard in the centre of each side (numbers 17-27 and 18-28).
Finally, the stretch of Willifield Way between Temple Fortune Hill and Willifield Green has on its east side more of the Improved Industrial Model Dwellings (this time clearly doctored in their architecture by Parker and Unwin). Opposite is a series of Parker and Unwin cottages, with a big set-back in the centre, flanking the footpath to The Orchard.
From the start Dame Henrietta wanted to make special provision in the Suburb for the aged, and The Orchard was opened in 1909. It was one of Parker and Unwin's best designs, and it is a tragedy that it should have fallen into such disrepair that it has had to be demolished rather than rehabilitated. The court was enclosed on all four sides, the path running through an arch to the east and through an opening between terraces to the west. As usual, the detailing was so restrained as to be difficult to describe; the timber galleries having a particularly attractive scale and the gables of Parker and Unwin's usual clipped kind, with eaves subtly curved out at each side.
The pathway through the Orchard leads down to Hampstead Way, where it was intended to form one of the routes radiating from the abortive public garden. In Farm Walk, overlooking the tennis courts, there are nice roughcast terraces with brick doorways and bay windows by Parker and Unwin (1911).
At the bottom of Finchley Road, after the long blocks of neo-Georgian flats (Clarendon, Dudley and Montrose Courts), there follows yet another remarkable entrance to the Suburb, Addison Way. This road, laid out in 1911, is perhaps the finest continuous group of houses in the Suburb, all by Parker and Unwin except for a couple of terraces at the far end (numbers 66-76 and 78-88) by Michael Bunney. On the north side of the road there are terraces of two-storey flats, all in red brick, with arched doorways arranged in triplets and an asymmetrical composition of gables, with tall arch-panelled chimneys. At the back where there is a pleasant public walk along the edge of the Mutton Brook, there are ingeniously designed outside staircases up to the upper flats. On the other side of the road there are individual houses in terraces, the arched doors this time placed singly and alternating with doors under bracketed hoods. The detailing throughout is extraordinarily good, yet so simple as to be almost indescribable - the canted bay windows to the ground floor, for example, could hardly be done better and still seem up to date.
At the centre of Addison Way where Hogarth Hill comes down to meet it, there is the finest of Parker and Unwin's groupings of cottages around a road junction. The two Hogarth Hill terraces, numbers 28-36 and 35-43 are splayed out diagonally, the roof line being kept level on the steep hillside, so that the corners towards Addison Way become towers. The range opposite in Addison Way (numbers 57-79) is of two and a half stories, with maisonettes on the upper level, reached up open stairways to a broad first floor gallery, enclosed with brick piers and oak balustrades. Again there are corner towers, this time of three stories. The detailing in all three terraces is uniformly in red brick. Then along Addison Way follow more flats and terrace houses in red brick.