The Estates of West Hampstead


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Before the builders arrived en masse in the late nineteenth century, West Hampstead was a rural area of large houses, farms and estates, centred around West End Green.

Beckfords Estate, belonging to the family of the same name, consisted of 15 acres north of Mill Lane and west of Fortune Green Lane.

By the turn of the nineteenth century, the Greenhill family held Earlsfield. The estate was identifiable as two fields south of Mill Lane, forming a long strip of 7 acres, copyhold and heriotable.

Flitcroft was a 50 acre estate at Fortune Green and West End, named after its owner in the 18th century. At the core of Flitcroft was 28 acres of land left in a will. In 1756, it was bought by an agent for the architect Henry Flitcroft.

Richard Gibbs, a goldsmith, acquired Hillfield on the east side of West End Lane, north of Jacksfield, together with two houses in 1644. The Hillfield estate was held by another Londoner in 1685 and the house was ‘new fronted and much beautified and another house built’ after 1703 by Henry Binfield.

Jacksfield was one of the smaller but well-documented copyhold estates in the West Hampstead area. The house associated with Jacksfield by 1646 was probably Frognal Hall. In 1668 Pepys visited Sir Geoffrey Palmer ‘in the fields by his old route and house’.

By 1762, Thorplands was an 18 acre freehold estate with a house at West End. It was described as a tithe-free freehold owned by ‘Mr Draper’.

By the 1860s, Oaklands Hall, an elaborate Gothic mansion, was occupying a site in the south of the area and was occupied by Donald Nicoll MP. Nicoll owned portions of the Little Estate to the north and west, which together formed a 23 acre estate which he called West End Park.

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  1. Dear Historians.

    Thorplands was owned by John Thorp of St Martins in the Fields, Surveyor General to Queen Elizabeth I Thorpe held it at least from 1646 to 1653. John Thorpe (d. 1687). His home village was Kings Cliffe.Northamptonshire.
    I fail to find his will.

    He held other property at Buckland and Therfield, Herts and Kilburn, Middlesex, Kings Cliffe, Northants, Egham and Chertsey, Surrey. Sir John Sumerson Walpole Society Vo.l 40 1964-1966. Page 12.
    Thorp left his freehold lands at to trustees for his grandson, John Thorpe also of St. Martins. I have a copy his will which gives some interesting names of his friends.
    I have been given permission to use the work of the late Sir John Summerson by the Soane Museum and would be interested to know if you have more information on Thorplands, drawings and so on.
    Thank you

    Michael Lee. Peterborough PE8 6JD.

  2. Hi Michael,

    I have used the information supplied on the Thorplands article:

    http://www.theundergroundmap.com/article.html?id=1147

    I hope that’s OK.

    1. Dear Scott Hatton

      You state-
      ‘I have used the information supplied on the Thorplands article:’
      I do not under stand this comment.

      I was very interested in the Underground Map. John Thorp Surveyor General to Queen Elizabeth I. His family was living at St Martin’s in the Fields during the plague. He left his son John Thorp, Thorplands.
      My research into this subject is extensive. I am working on the idea that the area was used by Thorp and his friends who were solicitors at Grays Inn and the Temple. They may have built houses for those who wanted to escape from the problems at Westminster.

      Michael Lee.

      1. Michael: If you click on the link I supplied, I hope it will become clear!

    • Bob Page on December 22, 2019 at 2:39 pm
    • Reply

    Re: Thorplands

    Hello. I have been researching the Thorpe family and I am in touch with your correspondent Michael Lee, who has brought your website to my attention.

    There is a need for some clarification of the information you have here, There were in fact two men, father and son, and some of your information applies to the father and some to the son. The father, John Thorpe, Surveyor General to Queen Elizabeth I and my own 10xgreat grandfather, was born c. 1563 at King’s Cliffe, Northamptonshire, lived for most of his adult life in the parish of St. Martin’s in the Fields, and died in February 1654/5 in Covent Garden. He was buried at St. Paul’s, Covent Garden on 14 Feb 1654/5. He did not leave a will, or if he did it has not survived.

    The son went for most of his life by the name of John Greene alias Thorpe, which probably indicates illegitimacy and has thrown other researchers off his scent. He was almost certainly the eldest of the family, probably born to Rebecca Greene, first wife of John senior, before their marriage. He clearly inherited property that had been his father’s, so he must have been acknowledged as his own son by John senior. John Greene alias Thorpe died in 1687 and did leave a will (under the name John Thorpe) dated 19 June 1683. He was buried at St. Martin’s in the Fields on 20 November 1687. The will is held by the National Archives and can be downloaded from the Ancestry genealogical website.

    The will mentions significant property in various counties, including property he owned in Hampstead, which he leaves to his widowed daughter-in-law Elizabeth Thorpe, but it does not mention Thorplands by name. My researches have revealed information on other property owned by John Greene alias Thorpe in the Home Counties, but I am not sure whether any of them would come within the boundaries of your own study.

    Bob Page

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