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Practical- “something that is likely to succeed or be effective in real circumstances”
I live in a block of practical flats – as described in the 1935 brochure advertising Northwood Hall. With their own private toilets, gas supply and close to London , this block was noteworthy for the time.
Designed by Architect George Edward Bright, Northwood Hall stands at 300 feet above sea level, one of the highest points in London, on a clear day you can see across the city as far as Crystal Palace.
Surprisingly untouched by bombs of the Second World War, the unique cruciform shape is believed to have been used as an aerial navigational aid. For such a significant building, there is oddly little known about George Edward Bright .
The block featured a restaurant for residents, guest rooms and outdoor amenities including a tennis court. Indoors, there were uniformed porters available 24/7 and an optional maids' service charged at hourly rates. Additional services included rubbish collection, shoe cleaning and delivery of papers, food and even cooked meals – all provided through a hatch which went from each flat to the corridor.
We find ourselves presently living in unreal circumstances and I ask myself how practical are these flats now ? Attempting to keep to social distancing controls in a block of 194 flats, 7 floors, 2 small lifts and some 400-500 people is not easy – or so you would think.
The early hours peace and quiet allows for exploration of this wonderful art deco building. Balustrade staircases, reminiscent of M C Escher graphics, lift shafts and corridors not unlike a Hitchcock film and surprising silence. The kind of silence which speaks volumes about the lives lived and of this incredible faded grandeur of a building.
Northwood Hall is one of many architecturally significant buildings in the Highgate and Hampstead area.
Another amazing London blog that has helped us out several times when doing research for new tours. No idea who the old lady in question is, she preserves her anonymity very well! But the blog has been going since 2004 so as you can imagine she has managed to compile information on just about every imaginable facet of London history and culture - a good one to browse when you have a bit of time on your Hands, (like during a Global Pandemic for instance!) Click below to check it out http://www.shadyoldlady.com/
Do you miss pubs? yep so do we, so in order pay homage to London's many drinking establishments we have complied a quiz about weird wonderful history associated with some of our local boozers...
One thing I love about living in Hampstead you will never run out of bits to explore, I was out for a socially distanced walk this morning when I happened to stumble on this incredible house.. (3 years in the neighbourhood and I didn't even know the damn thing existed!)
As you can imagine it has a rather interesting history... first and foremost it was the inspiration for the character of 'Admiral boom' in Mary Poppins (The author P.L Travers was living in the neighbourhood at the time.)
It also features in a painting by the artist Constable entitled 'A romantic house at Hampstead'.
The house was originally built as a masonic lodge and named 'The Golden Spikes' (The conspiracy theorists amongst you will no doubt be able to tell me the significance!)
In 1755 it was brought by a retired naval Captain named Fountain North who added the ship like elements as he was missing his life at sea.
Around this time it became known locally as the Admirals house as it was mistakenly believed to have been the home of Admiral Barton: An 18th century admiral who became something of celebrity after his ship was captured and he and his crew were held hostage by the king of Morocco for several months. (He did in fact retire to Hampstead after he was released where his eccentric behaviour became the stuff of local legend - apparently he kept a cannon on the roof of his house and would fire it in the air to mark important occasions -as you do!)
Other notable owners have included: Victorian architect George Gilbert Scott, known for his work on Westminster Abbey and the Gothic style Renaissance Hotel at St Pancras station.
writer John Galsworthy author of the 'Forsythe Saga' and winner of the Nobel prize for literature in 1932
writers John and Winifred Fortesque: Winifred was a novelist (best known for her 1930's bestseller 'Perfume from Provence') and John was a military historian.
It is also worth noting that the there is rumoured to be a tunnel in the gardens that connects the house to nearby Hampstead heath (possibly built during the house's early days as Masonic lodge presumably for some weird and wonderful Masonic carry on!)
As you I'm sure you are aware we at Peculiar are not the only ones to take an interest in London's long and colourful history, and so we feel it would be down right rude not to give a shout out to some of the other writers, bloggers and tour guides out there who are making humorous and thought provoking content about our pet subject....
We are kicking off this feature with a great blog I stumbled on yesterday when trying to come up some quiz questions... Cabbieblog.com
As the name suggest its written by a cabbie under the pseudonym Gibson Square and is full of all kinds of London trivia - After all who knows London better than taxi drivers right? As well as all lots of weird and wonderful stories about the life of Black driver. Apparently the author has a book coming out later in the year, called 'Everyone is entitled to my opinion' - love it! Definatly one to check out!
Interesting bits of London history and news of our tours and events