The Farmhouse and Old Dairy
To the north of West Meadow, can be seen a small group of buildings, which was originally a cottage, dairy and brewhouse.
These were built in 1795 by George Saunders and are described by Sir John Summerson as "a pretty trio, with stuccoed walls and slate roofs with eaves of exaggerated projection, affecting the Swiss chalet style, whose picturesque virtues had just begun to be appreciated".
Lord and Lady Mansfield originated this trivial farming pursuit, which was fashionable in the circles of the gentry.
They kept a small herd of Warwickshire Longhorns, not so much for their milking ability but because they looked good!
By the late 1770s, the farm was the responsibility of Dido Belle, daughter of Mansfield's nephew and a black slave.
There is only one remaining building of the actual farmhouse, now privately owned, but one can still see the original outline of the octagonal brickwork in the ground.
The dairy postdates this period.
One can also see a ditch surrounding the dairy buildings.
This is known as an "Ha-Ha" and discouraged wandering sheep on the Kenwood pastureland from approaching the buildings!
Other "Ha-Ha"s can be seen at the bottom of Golder's Hill, (where the old estate divided from The Deer Park) and by the side of The Keeper's Hut (Ice House) on The Vale of Health.
(Click on a slide to show enlarged image)
"I was amazed when browsing on my laptop and thinking of when I was a child, I put in 'Dairy Cottage - Kenwood' and up popped your website and low and behold the Dairy Cottage.
You may wonder why I am interested, but it just so happens that as a child , I lived in this house.
My father was employed by the Parks Department and he, my Mother and myself lived in the Dairy Cottage for many years. My two schoolfriends and their families lived in the Farm Cottages and we spent many happy hours playing tennis on the large lawn in front of the Farm Cottages and running around the Heath.
My bedroom was the room up in the eaves of the main cottage and I would sit in the window and draw the various views. I was lucky enough to see the preserved dairy in the third part of the house and listen to the stories of how ice was taken from the ponds and put in the ice well that was outside our kitchen door to cool the dairy above and how 'alledgedly' there was a tunnel in this icewell that led to the Spaniards Inn that Dick Turpin used to use to escape the Bow Street Runners.
We were never sure as children whether we were being told a tale, but it didnt matter, we just loved the place and when my Father was promoted to another Park, I was broken hearted to leave Kenwood and my two schoolfriends, [we used to walk across the Heath to Parliament Hill when our school was then Parliament Hill High School for Girls.]
Many happy hours playing at Whitestone Pond with a boat and although this is many many years ago, I still love Highgate Village and occasionally visit with my cousin. I have taken my children to see the house and recently found a photo of them taken in front of the cottage.
I am now a widowed pensioner and a grandmother of four and hopefully will still be visiting the Heath in the future.
Thank you for reminding me of my childhood."
(Margaret Hughes, Feb 2012)
Janet Piggot tells the author:
My mother spent many happy times there staying with my great uncle, William (Squelch), in the dairy. He also was a key keeper/groundsman there and the two girls also worked in the café.
Think this must have been in the late twenties or thirties. My great aunt, Dorothy, also worked as a nanny in the 'great house' at Kenwood