The Rookfield Garden Village of W. J. Collins

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William Jefferies Collins purchased 23 acres at the foot of Muswell Hill in 1899, when he began to build more traditional family sized houses. This area had been occupied by Rookfield, Avenue House and another house known as Lallah Rookh, near the foot of the Hill. The name is taken from a long poem by the Irish ballad writer and poet Thomas Moore who lived in the so called cottage in 1817. His small daughter is buried in Hornsey churchyard, near the tomb of a now forgotten Victorian poet called Samuel Rogers.

In 1912 Collins moved to Southampton – where he built some more famous suburbs – and the development of this Rookfield area was taken over by two of his sons, Herbert and William Brannan Collins. Both of these men were under the influence not only of the new architectural styles, but also of the garden city movement, which began with the formation of Letchworth Garden City from 1903 onwards.

The two Collins sons developed the land as the Rookfield Garden Estate, providing a lower density of housing, irregular grouping of houses and communal open spaces, whilst retaining grass verges, mature trees and leaving the roads unadopted and unmade up. Gates are also set across the entrances to the estate to continue this private feel.

There are large spacious houses - and one block of purpose built flats also retaining an “Arts and Crafts” feel and interior décor - meandering through private gated roads.

With its vernacular architecture, green communal spaces, tennis courts and low density of irregularly grouped houses, the influence of architect Edwin Lutyens and the “Arts and Crafts” movement are absolutely to the fore.

Built in the same era as Hampstead Garden Suburb, it is similar in appearance and today special planning regulations prevent unwanted destruction of properties by ill considered alterations.

It is a little known but desirable place to live for those who want a feel of the country, close to town.


 

Collins original architectural plans and drawings have been recently discovered. Further information to follow shortly.