Inventory Site Record

Brookfield Estate (Camden)

Brief Description

Brookfield Estate was built by St Pancras Borough Council to provide much-needed housing post WWI. Designed by Albert Thomas, who worked with Edwin Lutyens, the estate has echoes of Hampstead Garden Suburb with curving streets, large garden areas, street trees and hedged boundaries. Brookfield Primary School was conceived as part of the estate and opened in the 1920s. An area of private open space within the Brookfield Estate has been used for recreation since the late C19th when the land was part of the Holly Lodge estate of former landowner Baroness Burdett-Coutts. The rural aspect of the Brookfield Estate is enhanced by the historic Highgate Cemetery to the north.

Practical Information
Site location:
St Albans Road (eastern end)/Croftdown Road/Kingswear Road/Chester Road (part)
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Housing/Estate Landscaping
Open to public?
Opening times:
unrestricted (public roadways)
Special conditions:
Public transport:
London Overground: Gospel Oak. Tube: Archway (Northern). Bus: 214, C2, C11.
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.camden.gov.uk; www.dartmouthpark.org

Full Site Description

The Brookfield Estate was built as a development of flats and maisonettes to provide much-needed working class housing after WWI, as a direct result of the subsidies local authorities were able to claim under the Addison Act of 1919 in order to build 'Homes for Heroes'. In 1922 St Pancras Borough Council purchased a large part of the Upper Drying Ground of Holly Village (q.v.) that had formerly been part of Baroness Angela Burdett-Coutts Holly Lodge estate (q.v.), together with an adjoining field known as Two-Acre Field. The sloping site was part of the substantial area that Baroness Burdett-Coutts had made available to the local community for recreational use, which included an area for allotments she had provided in 1876. South of the allotments were tennis courts, with a small pavilion built in 1885; in addition to tennis, bowling and croquet were soon played here and Baroness Burdett-Coutts is said to have enjoyed watching the games. She died in 1906, and in 1913 her widower closed the allotments, although the adjacent open space continued to be used for recreation. A new clubhouse had been built in 1911 and the Kenlyn Lawn Tennis Club was founded in 1919. In 1920 the Burdett-Coutts estate sold this open space to the Mansfield Bowling Club (1920) Ltd, the company that continues to own this land. The Objectives in the company's Articles make reference to both tennis and croquet and the continued use of the land for sport and recreation. At this point it was a substantial area with an open frontage to the public roads.

The Brookfield Estate was laid out between 1922-30, designed by Albert J Thomas, Edwin Lutyens' principal assistant between 1902-35. The layout of the estate has echoes of Lutyens' Hampstead Garden Suburb (q.v.) and follows the garden suburb principles prevalent at the time, such as are found in Raymond Unwin's 'Town Planning in Practice'. Consequently there are winding streets, views and vistas created by careful alignment of roads and landscaping, provision of street trees, hedging on boundaries, as well as garden areas. The housing was mainly of 2-storey cottage-style maisonettes, each providing 4 or 6 dwellings, and 4-storey blocks of flats; they were positioned in order to engender a rural appearance to the estate, enclosed by the curve of Croftdown Road. The buildings were set back from the pavement and had long front gardens entered through oak gates, with privet hedges and some with garden trees. Behind the properties were good-sized garden areas that were originally open, and were provided to encourage self-sufficiency in the residents much like the allotments found in many other early C20th garden suburbs. These rear gardens were later sub-divided into individual units. The mansion blocks in Croftdown Road and St Albans Road were contemporary with the cottages. At the top end of Croftdown Road is the community centre, which was originally a church school on land provided by Angela Burdett-Coutts, across the road from which is Brookfield Primary School and Highgate Branch Library. This part of the Estate was recently refurbished and provides particularly good examples of the 'semi-rural' character of the Estate, having very long wooded gardens that back onto equally long wooded gardens.

Brookfield Primary School was conceived as part of the estate and opened in the 1920s, a neo-Georgian style building. Highgate Branch Library, built in 1906, was the first branch library to be built in St Pancras Borough. The site, which was acquired from the Burdett-Coutts family, was largely paid for by the Duke of Bedford, the building costs paid for through a larger donation by Andrew Carnegie to St Pancras Borough Council. It faces the junction of Chester Road and Raydon Street and was designed by William Nisbet Blair, St Pancras Borough Engineer.

The area of open space used for recreation within the estate has been reduced over the years although Mansfield Bowling Club continues to have an outdoor bowling green and Kenlyn Lawn Tennis Club still plays here on 2 clay courts. When Mansfield Bowling Club's small clubhouse was replaced in the 1970s by a more substantial building with an indoor bowling arena, part of the site was lost to housing development, which also resulted in the loss of its public frontage and closed part of a historic footpath. At the same time, an area was tarmacked to provide car parking. However, in 1992 Dartmouth Park was designated a Conservation Area and following further public consultation, the remaining open land was designated as private open space in the then Local Development Plan, a designation intended to preclude further erosion of open space. In January 2009, following extended public consultation, this designation was reinforced by Camden Council's adoption of the Dartmouth Park Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Strategy. The Mansfield site is now designated as 'an asset of community value' under the Localism Act, the first private land in Camden to be so designated.

A recent scheme by Mansfield Bowling Club to develop part of the site with luxury houses, a leisure centre and indoor bowling arena, was turned down by Camden Council in July 2013, but would have resulted in the loss of the tennis courts and the outdoor bowling green.

Sources consulted:

LB Camden, Dartmouth Park Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan, 2009; 'Streets of Highgate' ed. Steven Denford and David A Hayes (Camden History Society Publications, 2007); Brief history of Mansfield Open Space on www.dartmouthpark.org/DPCAAC/mansfield-open-space

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ286863 (528484,186258)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
LB Camden
Site management:
LB Camden, Street Environment Ground Maintenance and Tree Section; Dartmouth Park Conservation Area Advisory Committee (DPCAAC)
Albert J Thomas
Listed structures:
LBII: Highgate Branch Library, attached railings, piers and lamp holders. Local List: many properties on estate roads, Brookfield Primary School
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:


Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
In Conservation Area:
Conservation Area name:
Dartmouth Park
Tree Preservation Order:
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:
Mansfield Bowling Club ground: Private Open Space

Brookfield Estate

Croftdown Road, Brookfield Estate, October 2013. Photo courtesy Patrick Lefevre, Dartmouth Park Conservation Area Advisory Committee.

Croftdown Road, Brookfield Estate, October 2013. Photo courtesy Patrick Lefevre, Dartmouth Park Conservation Area Advisory Committee.
View to south-east between 2 houses on Croftdown Road, Brookfield Estate, October 2013. Photo courtesy Patrick Lefevre, Dartmouth Park Conservation Area Advisory Committee.
View from Dartmouth Park Avenue towards backs of houses in Brookfield Park, showing allotments and open land prior to the estate being built, postcard c.1906.Courtesy DPCAAC, copyright Camden Local Studies & Archives Centre; www.camden.gov.uk/localstudies

Click a photo to enlarge.

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