Gilling Court

Gilling Court brochure, Belsize Park
Gilling Court, Belsize Park
Gilling Court, Belsize Park

We know Gilling Court

Gilling Court was built between 1932 and 1933 by Bell Properties Trust Limited on the site of Gilling Lodge for which the mansion block was named. Gilling Lodge was built in 1861 by George Crane, a speculator from Cheltenham, on land owned by Edward Bliss.

The name of Gilling might have come from the village of Gilling in North Yorkshire or, more likely, from John Gilling who lived in the 15th century. He was a parish clerk of St Sepulchre in the City of London and he left lands at West End, now West Hampstead, first to his kinsman Thomas Gilling for life, and then to charity.

The freehold owners of Gilling Court were originally the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The architects of Gilling Court were Toms & Partners of Park Street, Mayfair, specialists in mansion blocks.

Built just before Holmefield Court, the 104 flats of Gilling Court were planned as a four-storey building, and development continued into 1934 with a design for a ‘covered way’ between Gilling Court and Holmefield Court. Also in 1934 plans were laid for a swimming pool located between Gilling Court and Holmefield Court.

As a consequence of the building of Gilling Court, Haverstock Hill and Belsize Grove were widened. Press advertisements selling Gilling Court started in 1933, when sale notices appeared every week, and continued up to June 1939. Early advertisements show a picture of the mansion block and a ‘Bedroom convertible into sitting room’.

The first advertisements referred mainly to the flats rather than the amenity of the block as a whole. They first mentioned ‘luxury flats’ but subsequently advertisements were for ‘luxury flatlets (larger flats as required)’ ‘in London’s healthiest district’.

Gilling Court offered ‘a wide range of charming residences’ and the rents were ‘£80 to £140 per annum’. ‘Each flat includes its own entrance hall, with ample accommodation. It comes with its own bathroom replete with every modern device and its own kitchen with generous cupboard space and a gas or electric cooker. One-room flatlets have in addition a bedroom with built-in “Fold-away” beds (single or double) and fully fitted wardrobes’. It ‘provides a charming sitting room – instantly convertible into a luxury bedroom’. There was: ‘Central Heating. Constant Hot Water. Lift to all Floors’.

Gilling Court residents have been keen to write to The Times on a variety of subjects from the moment that Gilling Court was built.

In 1936 smuggling was alleged against two French women who were fined when they were charged with fraudulent attempts to evade duties on dresses and hats imported from Paris. One of the women lived in Gilling Court, and they were described as dressmakers and milliners. They were fined £150 – a lot of money at the time – with ‘two guineas’ in costs. The judge summed up by saying that it was the most ‘serious case of system smuggling for a long time’.

The Property Ombudsman