I didn’t know Gracie Fields was a builder

We saw this house at the top of the rather exclusive Frognal Way in Hampstead.


This is a close up of the plaque on the front wall


So the famous Lancastrian singer, entertainer and film star from Rochdale  was a builder as well. I wonder whether she mixed her own mortar and carried her own hod full of bricks?

Brings to mind Bertold Brecht’s poem Questions from a worker who reads

Modernist houses in Hampstead

Hampstead has, for a long time, been one of the more affluent areas of inner London. It’s always attracted residents from  intellectual, liberal, artistic, musical and literary backgrounds, more receptive to new ideas. As a consequence in amongst the more traditional Georgian and Victorian buildings, there’s a significant number of modernist style houses built between the wars.

One notable example is 2 Willow Road, the former home of the architect Ernö Goldfinger, which is now owned by the National Trust and open to the public. We’d visited previously a couple of years ago (report here) but had another look round during our recent break in Hampstead.


There are plenty of other examples of Modernist architecture within a short distance of Willow Road, most of which are still used for their original purpose as places to live.

One particularly notable building is the Isokon flats on Lawn Road. Designed by Wells Coates, they were completed in 1936

2012-09-22 15.14.04

Famous residents include the author Agatha Christie and Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus school and an architect himself.

The building was allowed to deteriorate but was refurbished and now house 25 shared ownership flats for key workers and 11 for private homes.


This house is tucked away in Downshire Road, just round the corner from 2 Willow Road and Keats’ House, on a street of more traditional buildings, just opposite St John’s church.


It was designed by Michael and Charlotte Bunney as their own home in 1936. It’s attached to a Georgian house and could almost be taken for an extension.


There are many similarities between the simple design of Modernist houses and some of the typically Georgian buildings, of which there are many in Hampstead. The simple geometric shape, the proportions, the minimalist ornamentation and the white rendering.

Number 13 blended in so well, and was almost hidden by the high hedge and trees, that we almost missed it as we walked past. But the distinctive Modernist style gate gate it away.


Frognal is a particularly prosperous area of Hampstead and there are number of Modernist houses there.

This is “Sun House” halfway down Frognal Way, one of Hampsteads more desirable streets to live in (it’s a private cul-de-sac with a barrier at the end of the road).


It was built in 1936 to a design by E Maxwell Fry.

This house, 66 Frognal, is on the corner of Frognal Way. Built in 1936 it was designed by Connell, Ward and Lucas, a pair of Kiwis and a Brit who were leading Modernist architects.



Frognal Close is a small cul-de-sac of five houses designed by Sigmund Freud’s architecht son, Ernst. They’re just around the corner from Freud senior’s London home in Maresfield Gardens.


This house at 13b Arkwright Road, was designed by Godfrey Samuel of Samuel and Harding.


It’s one of a pair of houses that probably replaced an older, larger, (and probably not particularly attractive) Victorian period building similar to the others in the road.

There are many other . Those pictured above are some of the more notable Modernist houses in the district, but there are plenty of others. We spotted this one, at the top of Willoughby Street, as we were walking along the main street leading up to the Tube station.


We also spotted this interesting looking building just down the road from Belsize tube station. It’s the entrance to a deep air raid shelter from World War Two.