The Grove | Highgate
This exceptional Grade II* listed house, built circa 1688 was the former home of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the novelist and playwright J B Priestley. It is one of Highgate’s best known buildings.
One of six restoration houses built in a commanding situation on the western brow of Highgate Hill, one of the highest points in London. Built of traditional brick and timber construction by William Blake with later additions circa 1930 by Paget and Seely, the house stretches to 6,728 sq ft. (625 sq.m.) over four floors. The superb interior, which has been sensitively restored and modernised, includes wonderful panelled rooms, a particularly fine staircase and the “Coleridge Room”. All of the principal rear rooms overlook the glorious west facing landscaped garden and command uninterrupted view over Hampstead Heath and beyond.
In December 1823 Dr James Gillman moved into the house with his friend and patient Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a central figure in the Romantic Movement and writer of the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and “Kubla Khan”. The poet resided there for 11 years, until his death in 1834. During his stay in the house it became a place of pilgrimage to the eminent literary men of the time including Wordsworth, Lamb, Leigh Hunt, Southey, Hazlitt and Edward Irving. In the 20th Century the house was occupied by the celebrated author, J.B. Priestley, whose best known works are the novel “The Good Companions” and the play “An Inspector Calls”.
Sadly at some point in its history the rear of the building has been encased in an impermeable cement render. This render prevented moisture from moving through the wall thus trapping it within the historic brickwork. The high water content allowed the bricks to degrade and therefore reduce their structural integrity. The wall had started to bow and crack and the bricks delaminate and crumble. The solution was to carefully remove the cement render and rescue as many of the historic bricks as possible. The wall was then rebuilt in the correct manner with lime mortar. The trapped moisture had also rotted a number of floor timbers which had to replaced. Working carefully with a conservation contractor and conservation officers, the rear of the historic property was rescued from the point of collapse.