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Dollis Hill

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A multi-ethnic residential district situated between Neasden and Cricklewood, at one time known as Dollar’s Hill. The name may be of sixteenth century origin, and connected with a family called Dalley. Surprisingly, the etymology of nearby Dollis Brook may not be the same, although the spellings have converged owing to their proximity. The 96-acre Gladstone Park, created in 1901, dominates the district. The park was once the grounds of Dollis Hill House, built in the early nineteenth century and frequently visited by Gladstone when Lord Aberdeen owned it. Mark Twain spent the summer here in 1900, writing that, “From the house you can see little but spacious stretches of hay-fields and green turf… Yet the massed, brick blocks of London are reachable in three minutes on a horse.” Most of Dollis Hill’s undulating meadows were obliterated by suburban house-building before and after the First World War and this was an early place of migration for Jewish Londoners moving out of the East End. The progressively designed concrete synagogue opened in 1938. It is now in use as a school. Today, the main religious minorities are Muslims and Hindus. Perhaps unexpectedly, Dollis Hill also has London’s highest percentage of Irish residents (whether measured by place of birth or declared ethnicity), many of whom have ‘graduated’ here from districts like Kilburn and Harlesden. Dollis Hill House was badly damaged by fire in 1996 and plans for its restoration are still under consideration. The neighbouring walled garden, however, is kept in tip-top condition with flower displays changed three times a year, while the stable block hosts art exhibitions.

Neville's Court
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The walled garden and stables of Gladstone Park

In 1934 the Post Office Engineering research station opened in Brook Road. Two War Cabinet meetings were held in the bomb-proofed basement of an outbuilding here and Winston Churchill briefly retained a flat at nearby Neville’s Court (see picture below left). The research station was the British base of the ‘innocent’ in Ian McEwan’s novel of that name. In the mid-1990s the property was sold to a developer who converted the main building into luxury flats and built a new housing estate on the rest of the site.


Postal districts: NW2 and NW10
Population: 12,102
Station: Jubilee Line (Zone 3)
Further reading: MC Barrès-Baker, Cricklewood and Dollis Hill, Grange Museum of Community History and Brent Archive, 2001

Subterranea Britannica: Dollis Hill

Brewer's London Phrase & Fable

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