| Modern * London |
Built by the wealthy Lord Leverhulme in the early 20th century as a way to spend a bit of spare cash – because we all have to treat ourselves once in a while – The Hill Gardens and Pergola is one of the most eerily beautiful corners of London. The twisting vines and hanging branches seem to creep straight out of Disney. My advice would be to embrace the temptation to sit on one of the ledges, gaze out at the view, and pretend to be Rapunzel: everyone else is doing it.
Lord Leverhulme was a lover of landscape gardening. The walkways are bordered by a medley of flowers and shrubs from all over the world, many of the exotic plants are labelled as you walk through the pergola. The Hill Gardens exemplifies the Italian Arts and Crafts movement which hit England by storm in the late 19th century. In reaction to the perceived horrors of industrialisation and commercialisation, people were becoming increasingly concerned with the quality and process of material objects (doesn’t this sound familiar). New societies began to argue that skill and personal effort in the process of production meant quality, and those who designed, created, and used beautiful things without using the process of impersonal manufacturing made their way to the top of the social food-chain.
Many of the leading thinkers within this movement became architects, and they advocated the belief that the fundamental aim for any designer was to create something ‘whole’ and something beautiful – a place equitable to art. The open spaces, the colours, and the atmosphere of the Pergola: it was a place entirely designed to enjoy.
There was also a focus on the Pergola’s production. It had to be unique, it had to be thought through, it had to be apart from the cookie-cutter industrialised building business. With this in mind, the terraces of the rustic Pergola were built using reclaimed soil that was taken up as the city expanded out the Northern Line: it was the epitome of sustainable recycling.
After Lord Leverhulme’s death and the tragedies of the Second World War, The Hill Pergola and Garden became almost deserted. The City of London took it on in 1981 and now it is open to the public as a place of beauty. Over one hundred years standing, made of recycled soil and flowers.
The Pergola, Inverforth Cl, London NW3 7EX