For absolute peace after a hectic day in the City, this is the place to be. Iolanthe is situated right opposite Hampstead Heath - a miracle of preservation - 800 acres of woods meadows, natural ponds, where you can swim with the ducks, where wild flowers grow, birds sing and the air smells truly sweet. See map -our pictures. The Victorians called it "the lung of London", and as you leave the smoke behind and climb to 440 feet above sea level, you really feel that you can breath again.
Hampstead Garden Suburb is situated to the north of the village of Hampstead and east of Golders Green. It was founded by Dame Henrietta Barnett in 1907, who, appalled at the living conditions of London's poor, declared her intention to establish a community where persons of all classes of society and standards of income could be accommodated and the handicapped welcomed. She declared that houses be so planned that none should spoil each other's outlook or rob its neighbour of beauty.
She was determined to retain and create as many features of the country as was consistent with a town community. Beauty both in layout, architecture and planting was an essential consideration, as beautiful surroundings contribute to the happiness of life for both rich and poor. Alas for Henrietta's dream, the beauty remains but only the rich can afford to buy even the smallest cottage.
To realize her ambition, Dame Henrietta chose Sir Raymond Unwin to plan the estate and Sir Edwin Lutyens R.A. as Consulting Architect. Unwin had an artist's eye for the picturesque. His love of Hampstead, no less than his study of German medieval cities led him to place his buildings in such a way that they grew out of the contours of the ground, almost as naturally as the hedgerow trees which he was so careful to preserve.
The streets run in easy curves and where there is a sharper turn, something, a house or tree is placed to gratify the eyes. Frederick Gibberd states in his Town Design "Hampstead Garden Suburb is probably the most perfect example of the kind of environment that the Garden City movement tried to create". At every season of the year - and not least in winter - the hedges and the carefully devised vistas between individual or small groups of houses give a rare picture of beauty and peace. In no other London suburb is there so little trace of ugliness.
At the centre of the Suburb is Central Square with its two great churches designed by Lutyens. St Jude's, gothic in character and the Free Church on the opposite side is a variation on the theme with a dome instead of the other's tower and spire
For further information about Hampstead Garden Suburb, consult www.hgs.org.uk.
Our house, Iolanthe, was designed in 1921 by Sir Raymond's successor, Mr John C.S.Soutar, F.R.I.B.A. who was also responsible for the design of the extension in 1938. It is a freestanding dwelling, in neo-Georgian country-house style.