Swains Lane Lodge, Waterlow Park, London

Picking up where I left off last time, here’s another building located on the edge of Waterlow Park. While Lauderdale House, the subject of my previous post, overlooks the eastern entrance from Highgate Hill, visitors who enter the park from the southwest are greeted by this fine 19th-century lodge on Swains Lane. A rendered brick contsruction, it was built around 1840 when the park was still a private estate. About that same time Highgate Cemetery was opened just across the street. (In fact, the tall white pillar at the left of the above photo is one of the gateposts to the western part of the cemetery.)

Swains Lane Lodge is a building very much of its time. While the design was clearly inspired by Tudor architecture, the unknown architect was more interested in creating a picturesque appearance than in ‘historical accuracy’. Thus, the lodge presents a fanciful array of Tudor and Gothic details, such as buttresses, battlements and pinnacles – with the obligatory bay window thrown into the mix – still very much in the tradition of Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill House. This is perhaps most evident in the group of terracotta chimneys rising above the roof line like a showpiece of their own: Looking at their rich ornamental details, one finds it hard to decide whether they are copied directly from the Tudor chimneys of Hampton Court Palace or from Walpole’s 18th-century imitations thereof.

Summer House, Richmond, London

Standing directly on the popular Thames promenade in Richmond, this small tower-like building is probably a familiar sight to many Londoners. Its crenellated parapet gives the structure an almost medieval look, but the large round-arched windows betray its eighteenth-century origin: It was built around 1760 as an architectural garden feature for Trumpeter’s House, which, at that time, was in the possession of one Lewis Way, a barrister of the Inner Temple, Director of the South Sea Company and President of Guy’s Hospital.

Trumpeter’s House itself had been erected shortly after 1700 between Richmond Green and the Thames, on the site formerly occupied by Richmond Palace. Lewis Way added two wings and an impressive portico to the building, as well as the summer house at the rear end of the extensive gardens, which stretch all the way to the river. In many respects, it is this position on the waterfront that determined the design of this ‘miniature tower’. After all, its primary purpose was to provide its owners a view over the river. Thus, while the garden side has a solid, closed appearance, there are two large windows looking outwards, and the building’s main level is raised above ground by an elevated basement. One might perhaps even describe the summer house as a kind of free-standing theatre box – with the boats and passers-by outside providing the entertainment.