Dene Mansions

Dene Mansions brochure, West Hampstead
Dene Mansions, West Hampstead
Dene Mansions, West Hampstead

We know Dene Mansions

Dene Mansions was built in Dennington Park Road, the three blocks of flats replacing a house called Lauriston Lodge in 1904. It’s an imposing, impressive sight, characteristic of the architectural swagger and symmetry of the mansion block building style.

Historical records provide a fascinating peek into century old London life that seems somehow familiar today. Has the letting notice really changed that much?

Advertisements placed in The Times newspaper during 1905 record: ‘Flats, West Hampstead – Dene-Mansions, Dennington-Park, three minutes from North London, Metropolitan, and Midland Railways – up to date residential flats to be let, rent free to Christmas. Accommodation – two reception rooms, two bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom and usual domestic offices. Fitted throughout with electric light and bells and hot and cold supplies and latest sanitary arrangements. Halls and staircases carpeted. Decorated in good-class style to suit tenants. Rent £60 per annum.’

Rent-free to Christmas? Well, maybe letting notices have changed after all! One of the recurring features of the mansion block was the diverse and disparate nature of its residents. Dene Mansions was no different and you could never simply point to it and say a certain type of person lives here. If the flats were not quite the home of Everyman, they were certainly home to many and varied members of society. Residents of the early 20th century include one John Hendriks, a self-employed picture dealer; his brother, Walter, who was an advertising agent; the Rev. Wolf Stollof, who was the cantor at Hampstead Synagogue between 1899 and 1931; JL Pratt, a barrister; Thomas Beach, a teacher; and CE Best, a merchant and wholesale exporter.

If you dig deep enough, you’ll be guaranteed to turn up some tabloid fodder amongst the resident histories… remember, all life really was here. Take the court case reported in The Times between 29th August 1958 and 28th March 1959, with the headline trumpeting: ‘Dawson and three others held – Alleged conspiracy to defraud’.

The report says: ‘Police opposed bail when George Frederick Dawson… Charles Elman, aged 30, chartered accountant, of Dene Mansions, Kilburn… [and others]… appeared at Bow Street Court’. They were arrested on the grounds that ‘they conspired together and with others to cheat and defraud such persons as might be induced to part with monies in connection with transactions concerning the sale and purchase of orange juice concentrate and other articles by false pretences and by fraudulent conversion of monies, and by divers other false and fraudulent devices’. At least six people were defrauded out of £76,000 and the Dene Mansions resident, Charles Elman, got two years’ imprisonment. Presumably the ‘porridge’ went with the orange juice?

Today, Dene Mansions is situated right in the heart of West Hampstead Village, which offers a selection of local shops, bars, restaurants and excellent transport facilities.

The Property Ombudsman