Welcome to Wonderland: the £15 million home with a curious history
- Credit: London Real Estate Advisors
Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky poem was the inspiration behind this Hampstead Heath home, on the market for literary lovers and househunters with a taste for history
Twas bryllyg, and ye slythy toves / Did gyre and gymble in ye wabe:/ All mimsy were ye borogoves; /And ye mome raths outgrabe.
The tale of the Jabberwocky was first uncovered by curious explorer Alice when she travelled Through the Looking Glass in 1871. The nonsensical world of the Wonderland stories created by Lewis Carroll inspired countless literati in the generations that followed. One of those stirred was mathematician and educationalist William Garnett, whose 1903 home The Wabe is on the market for property hunters as adventuresome as Alice.
The property presents a rare slice of literary, arts and architectural history to the market. Named the ‘wabe’, which translates to the edge of the treeline where the forest begins, the property is found on the borders of the open spaces of Hampstead Heath. Garnett designed the home for his own family and drew on a plethora of architectural styles, from the castle-like forms of Scottish Baronial to the anti-industrialist rebellion of the Arts and Crafts movement.
The Edwardian mansion has a history as eclectic as its design. Having been sold in 1913 to the industrialist Harold Ellis and his wife, Canadian explorer Mina Hubbard, the First World War had little bearing on the property, which continued to be a welcoming place to entertain in dark times. Guests were as varied as pioneers of the feminist movement Emmeline Pankhurst and Isadora Duncan, who danced at the house to raise funds for the cause, and celebrated authors George Bernard Shaw, Rudyard Kipling and H.G. Wells.
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After a lost three decades following the Second World War when the home was converted into flats, the house was restored in 1985 when it was bought by an actor. Continuing to play a role in the arts and entertainment industry, it’s no wonder that since its restoration, the property has welcomed legends such as Arthur Miller and David Bowie.
The house’s illustrious history of playing host has been facilitated by its more than ample entertaining space, the jewel in the crown of which is a ground floor ballroom lit by a double height stone mullioned window, with space to seat 75 people. The space is overlooked by a minstrels’ gallery, a feature seldom rivalled anywhere else in domestic property in the city.
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Children can play in the double volume playroom set aside by Garnett for games and dancing, whilst adults can take refuge in one of the five bedrooms. The property also has an annex should the Queen of Hearts come to visit, and plenty of parking space in the courtyard and garage for her entourage.
Idiosyncratic detailing gives the house its unique character. Period details are plentiful, from the ornate metallic sea-creature doorknobs to the vaulted and beamed double height roof in the top floor study where you’ll be able to question for yourself why a raven is like a writing desk. Windows with individually differing designs in the leaded lights pepper the house, allowing daylight to flow through the house creating a harmonious sense of space.
The vast gardens surrounding the home provide the perfect platform for a game of flamingo croquet. Covering 0.6 of an acre, the space is blanketed with green lawns and sprinklings of bluebells, clustering around the ancient oak trees where, if you’re lucky, you might spot the Cheshire Cat or White Rabbit. A roof terrace provides views further afield, from Hampstead Village to the rolling Surrey Hills.
With a long and distinguished history, the home is a piece of literary history in itself but at £15 million you’ll have to remind yourself that you aren’t smoking the Caterpillar’s hookah or going mad as the Hatter. With an acclaimed history of guests, a remarkable and unrivalled design and a location on favoured Redington Road just moments from the Heath, this home is a Wonderland for curious property hunters seeking something extraordinary. There’s nothing nonsensical about that.