London, Travels

Pergola, Hampstead, West Heath – a Shadow of Edwardian Brilliance

When I think of the Edwardian era, I do not think of the thickening shadow of the Great War looming on the horizon. I do not think of the work of Albert Einstein or Max Planck, and the experiments in radioactivity. I do not think of women as second-class citizens, or the ongoing Boer War reducing humanity into a condition of caged animals.

Pergola comes from Latin word pergula, referring to a projecting eave. A pergola forms a shadowy passage way with pillars usually supporting cross-beams.

Pergola comes from Latin word pergula, referring to a projecting eave. A pergola forms a shadowy passageway with pillars usually supporting cross-beams.

When I think of the Edwardian era, I think of long, soft summer afternoons with a warm breeze sweeping over the lawns against which the ladies’ ivory petticoats swish as they sway towards the woods with a glass of champagne in one hand and a beau in another. I think of the early notes of jazz, uplifting fizzy drinks and the sparkling wits with nothing better to do with their time than speed on their recently acquired automobiles from one party to another. I think of Evelyn Waugh, the brightness of the youth, long cigarette holders, and the older generations sighing “preposterous” as they watch the young ones. I think of the childish yet amusing snobbery, and the society of the Titanic – just before it sunk.

Not much is left of the Edwardian era: It was a short, bright, somewhat innocent moment in time. A glimpse of make-belief paradise before the fall.

Not much is left of the Edwardian era: the books of the time are collecting dust on the book mongers’ shelves, the cars shining lonely in museums. Cigarettes are doomed by the health-grazed socialites,  jazz isn’t shocking anymore and the fizzy drinks come in two-liter plastic bottles. Only the long and lonely summer nights’ breeze rattles the dry leaves in these forgotten ruins of Edwardian era.

And they are all that remains; and in their corridors, the distant echoes of the sparkling, dizzying, mind-numbingly brilliant, exhilarating era.

The Pergola in Hampstead Hill was buit by Lord Leverhulme between 1905-1906 for his elaborate garden parties. The architect was Thomas Mawson.

The Pergola in Hampstead Hill was buit by Lord Leverhulme between 1905-1906 for his elaborate garden parties. The architect was Thomas Mawson.

Getting building material for the raised gardens would have been a costly and time consuming business: luckily the near-by Northen Line underground was expanding, and provided excess soil to the builders.

Getting building material for the raised gardens would have been a costly and time-consuming business: luckily the nearby Northen Line underground was expanding and provided excess spoil to the builders.

The Great War interrupted the extension plans, but Lord Leverhulme managed to expand the pergola in 1911 and again in 1925.

The Great War interrupted the extension plans, but Lord Leverhulme managed to expand the pergola in 1911 and again in 1925.

Lord Leverhulme died in 1925, and the estate was sold to Lord Inverforth. The pergola strarted its slow decline.

Lord Leverhulme died in 1925, and the estate was sold to Lord Inverforth. The pergola strarted its slow decline.

London County Council bought the gardens in 1960 and started restoring the pergola. The garden was opened to public in 1963.

London County Council bought the gardens in 1960 and started restoring the pergola. The garden was opened to the public in 1963.

Pergola is at its best during spring and summer time, but I believe that the decaying plants of autumn would add to its atmosphere.

Pergola is at its best during spring and summer time, but I believe that the decaying plants of autumn would add to its atmosphere.

The Pergola is said to be one of London's prettiest secret gems. I agree.

The Pergola is said to be one of London’s prettiest secret gems. I agree.

The pergola is listed Grade II. I wonder how many eyes at the Edwardian  garden parties looked at the starry night sky dreaming of a bright future.

The pergola is listed Grade II. I wonder how many eyes at the Edwardian garden parties looked at the starry night sky dreaming of a bright future.

The entrance, I hope you had a lovely visit!

The entrance, I hope you had a lovely visit!

 

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1 Comment

  • Reply TripEconomy June 8, 2016 at 11:37 AM

    Tämä juttu on todella kiinnostava ja sen avulla matkasta tulee onnistunut ja nautittava. Tosi hyvä artikkeli! Hienot kuvat!

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