Dartmouth Park, Camden/Islington
A group of well-built Victorian estates in south Highgate
Dartmouth Park Hill was originally part of the oldest road in Highgate, a mucky track through thick forest that later became part of the manor and parish boundaries. The earls of Dartmouth acquired much of the land here in the 18th century. To the south-west of their estate, luxurious four-bedroom homes lined Grove Terrace in 1780. Other impressive houses were built on the peripheral roads in the first half of the 19th century.
Opposite the southern tip of Highgate Cemetery is Holly Village, built in 1865 for the retired servants of the Burdett-Coutts family, who lived on the other side of Swains Lane. Whittington Hospital evolved from a workhouse infirmary established in 1869 by the Poor Law guardians of St Pancras parish.
In the 1870s the Dartmouths began to develop their estate and few gaps remained by the end of the century. Dartmouth Park Road was endowed with some very spacious properties but those nearer Dartmouth Park Hill were priced more affordably.
The terraced houses of Highgate New Town extended across the borough border into Islington during the 1880s, while the Conservative Land Society laid out Spencer Rise, Churchill Road and Ingestre Road near Tufnell Park. Around the same time the New River Company built a pumping station and two covered reservoirs on the east side of Dartmouth Park Hill.
Dartmouth Park Lodge became a gatehouse for Waterlow Park when it opened in 1891.
Twentieth-century evolution consisted of gap-filling and the subdivision of larger houses. Camden council redeveloped Highgate New Town in the 1970s in a scheme that has been called ‘architecturally sculptural, but socially disastrous’.
Local resident and Camden councillor John Thane courted controversy in 2005 when he argued that Dartmouth Park is “a nice hotchpotch but why should that make it a conservation area?”
The “exotic and theatrical” reinvention of a terraced Victorian house in Dartmouth Park won a RIBA London award in 2018.
The open space called Dartmouth Park consists mostly of the fenced-off and grassed-over roof of the Victorian reservoirs mentioned above. But there’s also a publicly accessible section that offers some distinctive views across north London.
The operatic impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte lived at 2 Dartmouth Park Road in the early 1860s, with his parents and many siblings.