Buildings of interest near London’s Canals – Nash Villas
The Nash Villas along the Regents Canal
John Nash built a lot of houses along the Regents Canal. Probably more than half of these have disapperaed. The largest estate of Nash built Houses was located at what were called the North Bank and the South Bank, sited between Lisson Grove and Park Road. Nash originally envisaged that 56 classical houses would be built alogside the Regents canal within Regents Park. In the event only eight were built. Of the original eight only Nuffield and Hanover Lodge stil stand. Further houses were built by Nash alongside the Regents canal’s extension to the Cumberland market area. These houses are sited to the east of Regents Park by Gloucester Gate bridge. These are known as Park Village East and Park Village West. They still exist but no longer have a canal running through. Some of the east side villas were demolished to make way for the widening of the railway lines out of Euston
The above picture taken in 1987 shows the old Regent’s Park hostel on the left plus major towpath works undertaken that year to renew and widen the canal towpath where neccessary. This was done in conjunction with the electricity board as it also invovled the upgrading of the cables and cooling systems that run underneath the towpath.
Terry Quinlan’s Villas
In 1987, the Crown Commissioners tendered for new villas to be built to enhance the park setting. They were to be built alongside the Regents Canal. This picture (above) from the archives pages shows the stretch of Regents Canal in the same year the new classical villas were announced. On the extreme right through the trees can be seen the ugly brick built hostel. On the opposite side are the gardens of Grove House. Its gardens are said to be the next largest in Central London after Buckingham Palace. Grove House was bought in 1993 for £25million and was the most expensive property in the country at the time!
The Quinlan designed Nash houses were built from 1987 onwards, the last being completed in 2008. The themes for their design were taken from John Nash, as well as Sir John Soane, and Strawberry Hill House. Quinlan decided upon a return to tradition for the design of the houses. This was clearly a winner for the houses complement their park setting overlooking the Regents Canal. The houses are built on land belonging to John Nash’s Hanover house. This land formely stood a sixties brick built hostel, reminiscent of council flats (as show in the view above.) A Nash flavoured theme was stipulated by the Crown Commissioners, and architects submitted their desings. Quinlan was the winner. Quinlan himself says that the houses are “an attempt to get in the shoes of Nash.”
1987 news item on the go-ahead for the new Terry Quinlan houses
Objections wee lodged against the propsals for the se new houses. One journal revealed that The City of Westminster demanded that they “stop this capricous over-development.” At the other end of the debate, the Sunday Times for 10 May 1987 quoted that the villas “would have made Nash smile with satisfaction.”
Drawings for the six new classical villas
Five of the Quinlan designed villas in a row – they are as (from right) Iconic then Veneto, Gothick, Corinthian, and Tuscan at the far end
Sale advert for the Gothick. It was bought for £6.7million in 1994. The map from Regents Park’s information boards shows the villas’ locations
Gardenia passing the Iconic Villa
This Hanover Lodge, its actually one designed and built by Nash himself, although it was extensively modernised 2002-2009
Previously Hanover Lodge could hardly be seen from the canal. Its modernisation has seen the construction of a large bay frontage which overlooks the canal. Much controversy surrounds the modernisation of Hanover Lodge. Not least is the rumpus that Terry Quinlan knocked down two historic grade II Regency gate houses that guarded the drive to the lodge. Quinlan was fined £25,000 for the breach of planning laws. However it is said that the gatehouses were in fact retained for future reinstatement. Westminster claims permission should have been sought for this. One interesting apsect regarding Hanover Lodge is that its the only villa out of the entire row to have used the canal to convey construction materials and to take away spoil. Its a lovely property but will set you back £50 million!
The main entrance from the Outer Circle to the Iconic Villa
The Corinthian and Tuscan Villas from the Outer Circle. These and the Regency share a common entrance driveway
John Nash’s Grove House overlooks the north side of the canal. This is the frontage from Prince Albert Road
Grove House was featured in the ITV series The Champions back in 1967 when it doubled as an embassy for the fictious Colombrian States! Grove House however belongs to the Sultanate of Oman. It has splendid gardens that are said to be the largest in London after Buckingham Palace’s, and the Regents Canal makes a splendid compliment to the setting