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‘The Hill’ Hampstead

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In the garden of a mansion (Neo-Georgian with Queen Anne revival wings) once called ‘The Hill’ adjacent to a long, shallow pond and on the site of a former tennis court is a high wall and shelter of soft sandstone covered with numerous examples of incised graffiti, names and dates, faces, hearts and jagged lines connecting the mundane and exotic: Anthony the Jock, Baz, Dave, D, Dom, Grata, Jax, Mackie, Melalee, Mini, Milner, Monkey, Patricia, Raffia, Rima, Sam, Tim, Tracey, Veneta, Venti, Wallace, Zona with the more modest D26, J.F., H.90, FxB=, M+C2014, ME. Overwritten and interconnected they speak to ‘Lifebuoy’, ‘Lux’, ‘Vim’, ‘Port Sunlight’ Sir William Lever/1st Viscount Leverhulme’s early 20thC legacy garden as scratched love tokens.

The landscape architect Thomas Mawson’s Pergola Garden. Such faded glamour. The Pergola and The Hill gardens are distinctive, moody and eerie. A raised walkway, overgrown with vines and exotic flowers, created using spoil from the Hampstead extension of the Northern Line and the labour of hundreds of navvies, constructed by 1906, extended in 1911 and again in 1925.

By the time the final sections of the gardens were completed – a Summer Terrace and a viewing platform to provide views over Hampstead Heath – Lever had only a few months to enjoy them before his death in May of 1925. The mansion was purchased by Lord Inverforth in that year and modestly renamed Inverforth House.

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