Leaf had bought "Hill House" a small but prestigious estate in Streatham once the property of the Dukes of Bedford. Now a busy and densely populated suburb of south London, Streatham then had “more first class residences… than any other locality about London” and was “the resort of rich merchants and bankers.”
Work on a new house in the grounds of Hill House probably started in 1829 and was finished by 1835, and the original Hill House was demolished.
The celebrated architect John Buonarotti Papworth designed the new house ("Park Hill") for the unknown but immensely wealthy businessman, philanthropist, art collector and garden enthusiast William Leaf. Later the estate was bought by another, but much better known, immensely wealthy businessman, philanthropist, art collector and garden enthusiast Henry Tate.
Amazingly the estate has escaped the common fates of Victorian suburban villas, even grand ones: demolition to make way for street after street of cheaper housing. The escape has not been total but the core of the property still survives reasonably intact, which is even more amazing since the estate is only 6 miles from central London ( Gardens Trust)
First Image Leaf family with William Leaf on the left. Other images Park Hill- later owned by Sir Henry Tate
Our publication by Brian Bloice, Graham Gower and Daphne Marchant on Park Hill is being republished and will be available to purchase in June this year