Inventory Site Record

The Hill Garden and Pergola * (Camden)

Brief Description

* on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens

The Hill Garden and Pergola were formerly part of the gardens of Hill House, a villa of 1807 that was remodelled in 1896 and rebuilt and enlarged by Sir William Lever, later Viscount Leverhulme, who was owner from 1904-1925. His gardens were laid out in 3 phases, following his purchase of Hill House, renamed The Hill; a second scheme following purchase of Heath Lodge to the north-west in 1911, and a third after he acquired Cedar Lawn in 1914. The first 2 schemes were by Thomas Mawson and included an extensive Pergola and formal gardens. The Hill was acquired by Baron Inverforth in 1926; it was renamed Inverforth House in 1955 when he left it to Manor House Hospital. The property was divided in 1960, the LCC purchasing the western part and north-west part of the pergola, which opened to the public in 1963 as the Hill Garden. In 1991 the part of the pergola owned by the hospital was added to the public gardens. Inverforth House and gardens remain private. The 800ft-long Pergola was restored in 1995 and formal gardens were laid out on former kitchen gardens.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
The Hill House, The Hill, Inverforth House; Heath Lodge, Cedar Lawn
Site location:
North End Way/Inverforth Close
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Public Gardens
Open to public?
Opening times:
The Hill Garden: daily, closes at dusk
Has taken part in Open Garden Squares Weekend 13 times, most recently in 2015.
Special conditions:
no dogs
Has opened for OGSW
Public transport:
Rail: Hampstead. Tube: Golders Green (Northern) then bus. Bus 210, 268
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

Full Site Description

Site on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens, for Register Entry see https://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list

Now part of Hampstead Heath (q.v.) this site was formerly part of the gardens of Hill House. The original house was built in 1807 and in the C19th was owned by the Quaker banking family of Hoare until 1896 when Sir Samuel Hoare sold the property to George Fisher, partner in a successful firm of auctioneers. Fisher rebuilt the house and moved here with his family. Set in 5 acres of parkland and gardens, there were apparently ponies for the children and a goat-chaise. A blue plaque was erected to Fisher's son Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher, statistician and geneticist, who lived here as a child until 1904. The house and its gardens were then successively modified by the philanthropist and soap manufacturer William Hesketh Lever. Lever, who was created Baron in 1917 and in 1922 became Viscount Leverhulme, owned the property from 1904 until his death in 1925. He renamed the house The Hill and the additions he made to it included north and south wings to the garden front in c.1905 designed by architects Grayson and Ould, who also designed a terrace along the garden front to which Thomas Mawson (1861-1933) added an Ionic Verandah in c.1910. Other additions to the house included a library wing (1913/14), a ballroom beneath the terrace (1923) and extension of the south wing (1924/5), the latter by Mawson with T H Mawson & Sons.

The gardens were laid out for Lever in 3 phases, the first scheme following his purchase of Hill House in 1904, a second scheme following purchase of Heath Lodge to the north-west in 1911, and a third after he purchased another property, Cedar Lawn to the south, in 1914. During WWI Cedar Lawn was used as a hospital and subsequently as a maternity hospital. The first two garden schemes were designed by Thomas Mawson who had previously worked for Lever in Lancashire. The early C19th gardens of Hill House had been laid out on sloping ground to the west of the house and consisted of a large lawn with scattered trees, boundary shrubs and walks, with a double shrubbery on the west side and probably kitchen gardens between; one walk led onto Hampstead Heath. Mawson levelled the site into terraces, with terrace gardens in front of the house, a level lawn and a Pergola created around the west and south sides of the garden in 1906. Between the Pergola and south-west boundary were kitchen gardens. After purchasing Heath Lodge in 1911 Lever demolished the house in order to extend his gardens. The Pergola was continued across a bridge over the public road that separated the two properties and led to a circular Garden Temple; a further stretch of the Pergola led to a Belvedere at the western end, which overlooked Hampstead Heath and the former gardens of Heath Lodge. A Pergola Temple replaced a conservatory on the west of the original Pergola; service buildings were erected to the east of the new land and the 2-acre garden was incorporated into Lever's gardens. In 1922 Lever demolished Cedar Lawn and again extended the Pergola and gardens.

After Lord Leverhulme's death in 1925 The Hill property was acquired in 1926 by shipowner Andrew Weir, first Baron Inverforth, who left it on his death in 1955 to Manor House Hospital, when it was renamed Inverforth House in his memory. The property was divided in 1960 when the LCC purchased the western part of the site and the north-western part of the Pergola, which with the gardens were restored and opened to the public in 1963, renamed The Hill Garden. The southern part of the Pergola was publicly access in 1971 but later closed as unsafe. In 1991 the Hospital offered their part of the Pergola to the Corporation of London, who had taken over ownership of the north-western part of The Hill Garden in 1989 after the abolition of the GLC in 1986. In 1995 the Corporation restored the Pergola and laid out further formal gardens to the west on the site of the former kitchen gardens and glasshouses. These have a formal arrangement of trees, large planted pots, and a geometric arrangement of beds planted with herbaceous plants and shrubs, herbs and ornamental vegetable. Inverforth House and its gardens (q.v.) was sold to developers in the 1990s for private residences. There are excellent views towards the house and over Hampstead Heath.

The Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England was established in 1984 and was commonly called English Heritage. In April 2015 it split into 2 separate entities, Historic England (HE), which continues to champion and protect the historic environment, and the English Heritage Trust, whose role is to look after the 400+ historic sites and monuments owned by the state. HE manages the National Heritage List for England (NHLE) that includes over 400,000 items ranging from prehistoric monuments to office blocks, battlefields and parks, which benefit from legal protection.

Sources consulted:

LB Camden listed buildings website; Corporation of London documents. NHLE Register: T H Mawson , 'The Art and Craft of Garden Making', 1907 pp272-7; Gardeners' Chronicle ii, 1912 pp482-3; Architectural Review 34, 1913, pls 12-13; Country Life 43, 23 Feb 1918, pp186-93; T H Mawson, 'The Life and Work of an English Architect', 1927; G Beard, 'Thomsas H Mawson', 1976, pp20-1, 55; Arabella Lennox-Boyd, 'Private Gardens of London', London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1990; Bridget Cherry & Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 4: North (Penguin, 1998)

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ260867 (526088,186704)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
City of London Corporation
Site management:
Open Spaces Dept.
1807; 1906-25
C20th: Thomas Mawson
Listed structures:
LBII*: Cruciform Pergola, The Hill Garden Bridge, Central Temple Summerhouse, Southern Pergola and Terrace, Western Pergola, Western Summerhouse, Southern Summerhouse. LBII: Inverforth House, Formal pond surround, fountain and pedestals in Inverforth House Garden, Garden Terrace Steps
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

NHLE grade:
Grade II*
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:
Hampstead Village
Tree Preservation Order:
Not known
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Yes - Area of Special Character: Hampstead & Highgate Ridge
Other LA designation:

The Hill Garden and Pergola *

The Hill Garden and Pergola, August 2002. Photo S Williams

The Hill Garden and Pergola, August 2002. Photo S Williams
The Hill Garden and Pergola, August 2002. Photo S Williams
The Hill Garden and Pergola, View towards Inverforth House, August 2002. Photo S Williams

Click a photo to enlarge.

Please note the Inventory and its content are provided for your general information only and are subject to change. It is your responsibility to check the accuracy.