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A photo of red brick Inverforth House perched in the midground, with its gardens in the foreground seen through hedge.

The Pergola and Hill Garden were once attached to the Edwardian style mansion, Inverforth House which sits behind it.

The Hoares and Fishers

A house has sat on the site of Inverforth House since around 1779. The original Georgian building called ‘Hill House’ was given in 1807 to Samuel Hoare the Younger by his father. The Hoares were a prominent family of Quakers and later Anglican bankers. They were friends with many leading politicians and literary figures of the day. It is reported that the poets Tennyson and Wordsworth met for the first time at Hill House. Samuel Hoare’s son, John Gurney Hoare, born in 1810 and brought up in the house, is credited as a prime mover in the battle to save Hampstead Heath from development in the 1850s and 60s.

The Hoare family sold Hill House in 1896 to George Fisher who was a fine art dealer and partner in the auctioneers firm Robinson & Fisher. Fisher rebuilt the house and lived there with his wife and five children. One of Fishers offspring, Ronald, who spent his childhood at Hill House, went on to become a noted statistician and biologist. An English Heritage blue plaque on the gatepost commemorates his association with the house.

Lord Leverhulme and the Hill

In 1904 Hill House was sold, along with its grounds to William H. Lever, later Lord Leverhulme, the industrialist, philanthropist and politician. One half of the Lever brothers, who were one of the first companies to manufacture soap from vegetable oils, Leverhulme made a great fortune through his business acumen and marketing practices.

Leverhulme drastically rebuilt and made further additions to the Edwardian mansion, including an additional wing on each side of the house and a ballroom and art gallery. A mix of Adam, Elizabethan, Jacobean and Regency styles were used in the remodeling and enlargement of the property and Leverhulme used a number of architects. The work included the addition of north and south wings to the garden front, by Grayson and Ould, in about 1905; a terrace along the garden front also by Grayson and Ould to which Thomas H Mawson added a verandah in about 1910.

Leverhulme acquired two neighbouring properties in 1911 and 1914 in order to expand his garden and had Mawson design and build the Pergola where, as a man fond of entertaining, he could host garden parties and enjoy the spectacular view over the Heath. The joint properties became known as ‘The Hill.’ A library wing was added to the entrance front of the house by William and Edgar Owen in 1913-14. James Lomax Simpson was responsible for a set of curving central steps down to central pool in the garden. Leslie Mansfield made further alterations to the terrace and then added the ballroom underneath it in 1923. Another blue plaque on the houses’ gatepost commemorates Leverhulme’s links with the house.

Lord Inverforth

Leverhulme lived at The Hill until his death in 1925, after which the 60-room mansion and grounds were bought by Lord Inverforth, a shipowner and politician. Inverforth, then Andrew Weir, had created and headed the firm of Andrew Weir and Co. shipowners of Glasgow. In the First World War he served as a minister in the coalition government and Minister of Munitions from 1919–1921. After the war he became involved with the telecommunications company Marconi.

Manor House Hospital

Inverforth died in 1955 and bequeathed the house, now known as Inverforth House, to Manor House Hospital, which sat opposite the main entrance to Golders Hill Park. The hospital specialised in injuries obtained through industrial accidents and was a recognized orthopedic centre.  

Inverforth House became the women’s section of the hospital and became known as Inverforth House Hospital. It had around 100 beds for patients and a nurse’s home with around 60 beds. Manor House Hospital was never part of the NHS and was funded by the trade unions. In 1998, it was placed into voluntary liquidation and dissolved in 2001.

Inverforth House today

The Grade II listed Inverforth House was sold and is now a gated block of homes consisting of two houses and seven apartments. The luxurious homes retain many of the original features including gold-leaf cornicing and in one of the properties, the four-bedroom "Adam Suite" is the Gilt Room, which was originally Lord Leverhulme's H-shaped drawing room. The entire 60ft-long space is designed in an Adam style with a gilt frieze and ornate plasterwork covering both the walls and ceiling.

Published:
01 October 2015
Last Modified:
07 November 2019

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