Friday, 20 July 2012

South Hill Park Gardens

South Hill Park Gardens is a street in the Hampstead district of London. It is within the London Borough of Camden, and some of its houses overlook Hampstead Heath

South Hill Park was developed in 1878, when the street was laid out on land belonging to South End Farm owned by the dean and chapter of Westminster. The new Victorian houses were built with their better rooms facing the road rather than looking out over the wild Heath. The road forms a loop at its upper end, and originally the central area was a public garden. Later as the development gained in popularity, this garden was built upon and the new development was called South Hill Park Gardens, leading to the anomaly of a residential street with a different name on each side of the road. During the Second World War a V2 bomb destroyed several of the old Victorian houses. The hole left by the V2 on the west side of the road lay empty and forgotten for many years.

In the Autumn of 1933, Lowry went to live with Hugh Sykes Davies at South Hill Park Gardens . Sykes Davies had been approved by Arthur Lowry to act as a "guardian" so that Lowry could stay in London after his problems in Devon during the Summer of 1933. (Gordon Bowker Pursued By Furies Pg. 165). Sykes Davies was living with Betty May at the time - Sykes Davies told Gordon Bowker; "There was one other person present ...connected rather with me than with him. She had a tendency to drink rather a lot, too - one of Epstein's old models." (Gordon Bowker Malcolm Lowry Remembered Pg. 68). Lowry told Jan Gabrial that he Sykes Davies and Betty May had "enlisted him as caretaker, though who was to care for whom may well have been the matter under discussion in Leicester." (Jan Gabrial Inside The Volcano Pg. 34). Jan's reference is to Lowry's meeting with his father to sanction the "guardianship" of Sykes Davies. 

Jan Gabrial visited and briefly stayed at the flat in South Hill Park Gardens; "Later we had supper with Hugh Sykes Davies and Betty May.... We are invited back for dinner tomorrow together with an ex-lover of hers, Edgell Rickword...." (Jan Gabrial Inside The Volcano Pg. 33); Jan and Lowry stayed at South Hill Park Gardens in early November 1933 while Sykes Davis and Betty May where away; "I had a bath and we finished the third of four bottle, then having borrowed one of Betty's gowns, I crawled into bed beside Malc." (Pg.35);

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