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Chalcot Square, north side

Terraced houses on the north side of Chalcot Square, Primrose Hill, London. These listed Buildings date from 1855-60, although further along on the west side, some houses date to 1849, and there has been much development in the area since then. For example, six new houses were built there in 1881, and a further eight in 1882-83. In fact, building on the Chalcots (not to be confused with the strikingly modern tower blocks of The Chalcots social housing estate) continued until 1915.

Some of the architectural details mentioned in the government listing for the terrace shown above are: "Prostyle Doric porticoes supporting balustraded stucco balconies continuing across 1st floor windows" and the "continuous cornice with keystones above windows." There are "console brackets between and pediments over" the central windows on this floor. There have been alterations since they were first built, especially additions to the upper storeys, but these unifying features remain.

Left: Close-up of north-west side. Right: Part of a terrace on the west side of Chalcot Square.

The blue plaque just visible in the right-hand photograph above is at no. 3, and commemorates the residence of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes at a small flat on the third floor in 1960-66, around the time when their first child was born. Many other writers and artists have lived in this area of London. Chalcot Square with its pastel-painted houses still attracts people in various branches of the arts, broadcasting and so on.

Left: Part of Chalcot Crescent. Right: 16 Chalcot Gardens in a photograph of 1913 (click to catch of a glimpse of Arthur Rackham, standing on the very right of the balcony).

Chalcot Crescent (above left), which is quite separate from the Square and does not touch it at any point, is described by Camden Council as a "[s]erpentine shaped terrace" of twelve three-storey houses with basements, some with attic dormers as well. Note the "cast-iron balconies ... console-bracketed eaves" and "attached cast-iron railings with fleur-de-lys finials to areas" (Camden Council). A cast-iron window guard is also visible on the left-hand ground floor window.

Chalcots map

Map showing the Square and the Crescent.

Chalcot Square and Chalcot Crescent occupy land that once belonged to the original agrarian Chalcot estate — the name of which gave rise to "Chalk Farm." There is another "Chalcot" too, a bit further north, with another blue plaque of great interest: this is 16 Chalcot Gardens, shown above right, the detached, gabled house of 1881, extended in about 1889 by C. F. A. Voysey for the artist A. J. Whalley, and occupied from 1903-20 by the well-known illustrator, Arthur Rackham. This is quite different in style from the houses in the square or round the Crescent. It is in Queen Anne style, built of variously coloured stock brick with a tall chimney stack as well as a steep tiled gable.

16 Chalcot Gardens

One of eleven drawings in pen, ink and watercolour for "The House that Jack Built," Mother Goose, the Old Nursery Rhymes, Heinemann, 1913. Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Accession No. E.175-1969.

Not surprisingly, Rackham's home in Chalcot Gardens was once described by author Eleanor Farjeon as having a fairytale ambience. She saw it as "the kind of house that could very well have been built of gingerbread and candy" (qtd. in Hudson 70). Indeed, as shown above, Rackham used it as an illustration in his Mother Goose nursery rhymes.


16 Chalcot Gardens." Historic England. Web. 25 September 2022.

"Additions to 16 Chalcott Gardens." Voysey gotik-romanic. Web. 25 September 2022.

Baker, T. F. T., Diane K. Bolton and Patricia E. C. Croot. "Hampstead: Chalcots" In A History of the County of Middlesex: Vol. 9, Hampstead, Paddington, ed. C. R. Elrington. London: Victoria County History, 1989: 63-66. British History Online. Web. 25 September 2022.

Camden Council. "Listed Building Details." Web. 10 June 2008 (no longer available).

"The House that Jack Built." Victoria and Albert Museum. Web. 25 September 2022.

Hudson, Derek. Arthur Rackham: His Life and Work. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1960.

Last modified 25 September 2022.